Demand For Modular Kitchens & The Need For The Specialised Workforce

Gayathri Vasudevan, CEO, LabourNet Services IndiaAn alumnus of University of Delhi, Gayathri has over 22 years of experience in both national and international organizations. She has been extensively involved in policy issues and community mobilizations relating to livelihoods.

Traditionally, carpenters made kitchens, which massively relied on the individual's carpentry skills & craftsmanship. Carpentry is a skilled trade that requires carpenters to work with mechanical tools & wood, and needs artisanship. Due to the technological advancements that took place in the past 20 years, they have graduated from hand tools to power tools.

Home is where the heart is, and a kitchen is what makes a house, a home. In older homes, kitchens were tiny and crammed. It was a space used almost solely for cooking that could be closed-off to conceal the mess, and the family & friends would assemble and eat in the dining & living rooms. Kitchens were utilitarian, and that was about it. The traditional expertise of the carpenters catered just right for the then functional requirements of the kitchens.

Today, kitchens are much more than just cooking areas. They have with times evolved into spaces that foster interaction between the families & their guests. There-fore, more sophisticated and sleek kitchens which are aesthetically appealing and are conducive for sociability have acquired a greater need and demand. As opposed to the traditional jam-packed kitchen setups, modernised modular kitchens have earned popularity for their space optimisation, ability to meet the fast-paced lifestyles and the flexibility to customize - according to one's needs & style with a whole new horizon of features.

This upgrade in the whole concept of how the kitchens are perceived today requires a distinctly different set of skills in the carpentry sector. The carpentry trade has transformed into manufacturing and fitting which involves workers like joiners, fitters and CNC operators. This requires high-skilled human resource who can handle computer-programmed machinery that performs a variety of functions like drilling, cutting, or shaping materials. The catch here is to train the workforce in the specific disciplines according to the market demand.

The fundamentals of designing the kitchens have altered phenomenally
to match the shifting architectural environment. Modular kitchens have caught on a rage and have revolutionised the idea of kitchens not just concerning design aesthetics & functionality, but also the dynamics that people maintain with their kitchens. The composite style of designing cabinets, shelves, racks, drawers to hold accessories, cookware, and crockery ease-out the process of cooking and make it more fun & enjoyable experience. They offer the wholesomeness and enhance the therapeutic experience that cooking innately has. The shift has not been only one of aesthetics, but one which has transformed an industry and the skills that people require in this changed environment. Skilling, re-skilling and life-long learning are the cornerstone for workers who want to make beautiful kitchens.

There is humungous market potential and demand in India, as there is growth in the per capita income of people and their disposable in-comes, and the organised players are offering services at affordable rates. These factors are providing a boost to the modular kitchens demand in the country. The emergence of nuclear families, an increasing number of housing projects, and growth in organised retail are few of the other market growth drivers. With this growing demand for these highly sophisticated, smart, space efficient and sleek modular kitchens, and the availability of a plethora of options, there is an increasing need for specialised labour that can cater to the advanced and more intelligent techniques of installations and brand servicing thereon, that the job requires. And to bridge the gap between this classic demand & supply situation, there is a dire need for an enormous labour force that is exceptionally well-versed at the trade. Now the question arises as to how do we connect the ends.

As it seems that the demand in the modular kitchen sub-sector is only going to grow in the future, there is enough and more need to pace-up and build a skilled workforce

The modular kitchen business is a fragmented market with an estimated size of about Rs.2500 crore. The growth of modular kitchen sub-sector has created many job opportunities for the youth in companies manufacturing the materials, fitting and accessories required for modular kitchens. Also, companies producing the modules, installing and servicing them in retail outlets and as entrepreneurs carrying-out the installations on behalf of large companies. Furniture & fittings sector skill council in India has also come-out with national competency standards to train the prospective employees who would like to opt for jobs in this sub-sector.

To cater to the needs of the industry, there is a need to impart the right skills in association with various brands and the workforce. The work-force need training in the standardisation of techniques and the artistry with specific nuances that go into the trade to achieve the finesse that the job requires. For that to happen, various initiatives with the brands in the business, builders & construction companies in the housing sector that understand the requirement, and the skilling enterprises that can fix the gap with appropriate training methodologies for the potential employees and nourishment to the prospective entrepreneurs, need to collaborate in order to level-up.

As it seems that the demand in the modular kitchen sub-sector is only going to grow in the future, there is enough and more need to pace-up and build a skilled workforce that is diversified, specialised and nuanced to serve the necessities of the trade with precision and perfection. This most certainly is an area with huge potential to increase the employability of the nation, sprout-up many prospective entrepreneurs and of course make our kitchens look more re-fined, stylish & smart, and add fonder memories of friends & family to the collection.