The Crying Need To Create A Talent Pool For Infrastructure

To emerge as a key economic player, infrastructure development in India is the key. The current government’s emphasis on building smart cities and advancing infrastructure underlines the impending need. However, shortage of skilled manpower is posing a hindrance to timely delivery of several projects. Here, industry veteran Prof. D.T.V. Raghu Rama Swamy talks about the need of higher education in the field of infrastructure.

Prof. D.T.V. Raghu Rama Swamy is Director, School of Infrastructure at RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University. The institute offers specialized MBA degree in Infrastructure Management. Prof. D.T.V. Raghu Rama Swamy was previously CEO – Infrastructure Development Corporation (Karnataka) Limited and has almost twenty years of experience in infrastructure advisory, development, financing, transaction advisory and management consulting practices.

1. What is infrastructure management?

It’s simple. When we speak of infrastructure in India, it includes

  1. Energy (electricity generation, transmission, distribution, oil & gas)
  2. Communication (telecom)
  3. Transportation (roads and highways, airports, railways, et al)
  4. Urban & Rural Infrastructure (water & sanitation, solid waste management, other civic amenities)
  5. Mining, Exploration and Refining, and
  6. Social & Commercial Infrastructure (education, hospitals, hospitality, SEZ, tourism etc)

Infrastructure management is an ongoing process that starts with conceptualization, design & planning, financing, construction/rehabilitation, operations and maintenance over a long period. Infrastructure builds the backbone of an economy. All sectors including agriculture, textiles, industries, et al are dependent on it.

2. What is the current scenario of infrastructure development in India?

As we notice in our daily lives, the quality of infrastructure services delivery is low, be it irregular water supply or pot hole filled roads. Various initiatives are being taken to improve the same. The sector is transforming with a diverse set of innovative and sustainable schemes/projects, the scale of which ranges from micro projects at villages to mega projects spanning across nations. Investments in infrastructure in India have been increasing (as a percentage of GDP) over the period, and this has been a vital component of national and state budgets. It is estimated that as much as 1 trillion USD in infrastructure investment is required over the next five years.

3. Why do you think there is a desperate need to create a talent pool?

By 2022, the Indian infrastructure sector is likely to have a shortage of around 3 million project professionals including project managers, civil engineers, planners, surveyors, safety

professionals, etc.(according to the PMI – KPMG report). In order to meet this burgeoning demand, there is a crying need for suitably qualified and skilled professionals. This pool of trained professionals is needed across various job levels in the infrastructure value chain. But currently only a few universities/colleges offer dedicated courses in infrastructure management to meet this requirement.

4. What kind of trained professionals are we looking at? Don’t all professionals get trained on the job?

We require trained professionals that are job ready from day one. To make the dream of providing better civic services to all, create 100 smart cities and ‘Make in India’ a success, the industry needs skilled talent for specific roles. An unskilled professional not only slows down the entire process but also pose a threat to the investment made. Also training them is not just about providing skill set but also about re-skilling, upskilling the talent. If the employers tie-up with education providers to train and educate the required talent, then a lot of money and time can be saved. This linkage will help the industry to overcome skill shortage and improve productivity and in turn help the institutes in developing relevant curriculum and provide for internships/site visits.

5. Are there institutes that train specifically for the infrastructure industry?

The urgency of need has brought industry specialists in the domain of education like the Adani Institute of Infrastructure Management, TERI University, University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, and Symbiosis Centre for Management & Human Resource Development. The programs offered in the country are quite diverse with no particular preferred format, ranging from diploma or certificate programs to MBA degrees. The content is also non-uniform with institutions picking their areas of comfort.

Here we want to set a benchmark for infrastructure management education. RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University (built environment comprises of real estate, construction and infrastructure), is an industry led academic institution that provides a holistic 2 year MBA degree in Infrastructure Management. The premise of the course is to equip graduates with the necessary techno-managerial skills that are required by the industry and aid in a successful career in infrastructure space. The teaching methodology would be a balanced mix of theory and case studies. Adequate emphasis is being given to general management courses, core infra courses, and sector specific employability courses during the two years. Case studies, lectures, participative exercises provide experiential learning to the students in all facets of the infrastructure life cycle. The course content and pedagogy is developed in close collaboration with industry experts that is suited to meet their requirements.

6. Can you tell us in detail about RICS School of Built Environment (SBE)?

RICS is well known name in the field of built environment globally. RICS is the world’s leading self-regulatory professional body for qualifications and standards in land, property, construction and associated environment issues. RICS is also a global accrediting body for over 600 built environment courses of reputed academic institutions across the world.

As an answer to the impending need of professional education in this field in India, RICS in association with Amity University has set up an institute for learning, training and research – RICS SBE. It is supported by the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India and is backed by top leading companies across sectors. RICS SBE has three schools – School of Real Estate, School of Construction and School of Infrastructure.

The School of Infrastructure provides post graduate management degree to graduates who choose infrastructure as a career. You will be surprised by the number of students doing so of late. Seeing the huge opportunity that lies in this field many are leaving behind traditional career options in favor of this sector. Today’s generation is smarter than us and weighs the pros and cons of their choice well in advance.

7. So what kind of students opt for an MBA in Infrastructure Management?

The sector is multidisciplinary and can accommodate a wide range of undergraduate specializations. Students with engineering, architecture, planning, finance, management and economics can opt for this program. To be specific 50-60% is expected to come with engineering background while the rest is a mix of economics, architecture and finance. We encourage girl students to opt for this program, considering the opportunities in banks and consulting in this field where there is a huge demand of female trained professionals.

8. This means people can work in banks after MBA in Infra? Not many may be aware of this.

Yes. Trained infrastructure management professionals can choose to work either with project developers like Larsen & Toubro, Afcons, GVK, GMR or with consulting firms like iDeCK, KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, Feedback Ventures, Crisil,  etc. They can also work with financial institutions such as IDFC, SBI, SBI Caps, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank, private equity providers, rating agencies such as Fitch group etc. in appraisals and sanctioning finances for infrastructure projects. It is a different pathway altogether, with much closer relevance to the sector than a typical finance post graduate is exposed to. When there are huge array of risks involved for a project of longer duration say 99 years, a person with techno-managerial knowledge of infrastructure can do better justice.

9. What is the scope of career advancement in infrastructure?

If one is looking for a career with rapid progression, this is the place! Rising to top management levels at a young age is highly likely in this sector if one is hard working and dedicated. Also, many MNCs are working in public private partnership (PPP) formats, looking at international finance options and share knowledge across geographies, so chances of advancing towards a global career are high.