As the leather industry requires skilled and semi-skilled manpower, the Footwear Design & Development Institute (FDDI) and Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar Housing and Development Corporation (TAHDCO) have come together to launch a footwear manufacturing technology programme for SC/ST students.

Inaugurating the special batch funded by TAHDCO, FDDI managing director Rajeev Lakhara said there was a huge gap between demand and supply of skilled workforce in the leather sector.

“FDDI is starting a full-fledged institute on its SIPCOT Irungattukottai campus to cater for the needs of the industry in the south,” he said.

Another institute is coming up in Kolkata. Nearly 5,000 technocrats, designers and managers would pass out of FDDI by the year 2012-13 but even that will not be sufficient to meet the growing demands of the leather industry, Mr. Lakhara said.

He attributed the growing demand in the industry to the shifting of manufacturing bases from Europe to China and India.

TAHDCO managing director Chandrakant B. Kamble said the corporation was funding Rs.30,000 per candidate for the short-term training course in the best training institute in the country after which the SC/ST women would be able to get a job with a salary of Rs.5,000 per month.

The financial assistance was an extension of the State government's resolve to uplift the ‘Arundhatiyar' community. “TAHDCO will sponsor more SC/ST women for the programme,'' he announced.

FDDI Secretary Shasi Bhushan Shukla said the leather industry needed footwear operators and supervisors and the women receiving training would be absorbed in the industry immediately. FDDI's Chennai campus would start programmes from August this year with student strength of 1,000, he said.

FDDI executive director Deepak Kumar asked the selected candidates to make full use of the opportunity to find the best employment possible.