Ministry of Skill Development to train 1 lakh Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) service technicians under PMKVY


New Delhi : Continuing the bid to create a skilled ecosystem through inter-Ministry partnerships, the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) today signed a MoU with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for the skill upgradation and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) certification of Refrigeration and Air-conditioning (RAC) technicians for the benefit of the environment and better employment opportunities.

Besides giving a boost to the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of Skill India, the collaboration between the two ministries marks an important step towards the country’s commitment to a better and cleaner environment by addressing the issue of ozone layer protection and reduction in indirect Green House Gas (GHG) emissions from refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two Ministries was signed today at a ceremony held in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in the august presence of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas and Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, and Dr. Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) have agreed to jointly undertake upskilling and certification of 100,000 RAC service technicians on good servicing practices and knowledge of alternative refrigerants to ozone-depleting chemicals. The project will be funded under the Skill India Mission – Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).

Applauding the initiative between the two ministries, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, said, “MSDE has made an investment of about 40 crore in skill training of one lakh RAC service technicians under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, with the help of Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. This is great example of Ministries working together to make the New India of our dreams. It is imperative that Ministries work closely in conjunction with the respective Sector Skill Councils to identify the new age job roles which are market relevant today, map their demand and co-create curriculum and pedagogy to ensure a robust skill training ecosystem and its outcome in terms of the productive workforce that India will have. I urge the industry to make equal contribution towards training of such technicians so that we further strengthen our industries and our youth. The focus on skill development should be as much as we have on research and production today.”

Addressing the audience at the event, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “India is being globally lauded for its green initiatives and commitment to the environment and climate change. Under the able guidance of Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, we are now being seen as trail blazers in all clean and green energy. Skill India is great endeavour by the government that also acts as a catalyst for bringing about this change by skilling, up-skilling and re-skilling technicians to bring down the emission of harmful GHG. I feel privileged and honoured to be a part of launch of the unique project and we ensure its efficient implementation and monitoring.”

India has been witnessing high growth in the air-conditioning (AC) market. The demand for air conditioners in India is expected to grow by 8.2 million per year by 2020 and 20 million per year by 2030. Refrigerants used in ACs are either Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) or have extremely high global warming potential. Refrigerants leak out of ACs during normal operation and due to poor servicing practices, causing adverse impacts to the environment. As a result, over 50% of refrigerant consumption is in the RAC servicing sector.

It is estimated that presently out of the total employment base of 6 lakh, there are around 2 lakh refrigeration and air-conditioning (RAC) service technicians in the country, who are in the informal sector.

Furthermore, since India is party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the country is in the process of phasing out ODS and in the future, even non-ODS gases with high global warming potential will be phased down. The alternative refrigerants have issues like flammability and toxicity concerns. As a result, skill training for technicians is of paramount importance not only for improving employment opportunities, but also in educating them about safety requirement, energy efficiency and refrigerant leak minimisation. If all RAC technicians are well-trained, the refrigerant consumption as well as energy consumption is expected to be reduced to a great extent.

The project will also include train-the-trainer programmes, updating of National Occupational Standards, and certification. The project will be implemented by the Electronic Sector Skill Council of India (ESSCI) and the Ozone Cell, MoEFCC. The project will be supported by industry and service sector associations for creating awareness and mobilisation of candidates. The project is expected to be completed within sixteen months.

The skilling and certification of technicians under PMKVY will have twin benefits of significant environmental benefits and a positive influence on the livelihoods of technicians.

Awareness generation and continued information sharing and knowledge up-gradation is a key for skilled service technician workforce. For this a mobile application developed by Electronic Sector Skill Council of India and Ozone Cell was launched for the trainees under the project for continuous information exchange with the service technicians. The mobile app will host training material and instruction videos for the service technicians. In addition, instructional videos have also been developed for the service technicians on various aspects of good servicing practices which have been prepared in four regional languages and Hindi to have a wider accessibility. These have been jointly developed by the Ozone Cell and Energy Efficiency Services Ltd in collaboration with UN Environment. These were also launched during the function.

Representing the sector, Shri Ajai Chowdhary, Chairman Electronic Sector Skill Council of India (ESSCI), “Today’s partnership ushers in a new era for ESSCI with the council in the air conditioning and Refrigeration sector to not only address the skill challenges of the technicians but also contribute to protect the environment from harmful effects of ozone depletion and sensitize the technicians in ozone friendly refrigerant. At the same time, we will continue to contribute and focus on creating an impressive opportunity for self-employment through innovative models like Micro-Enterprise, Village entrepreneurs and hub and spoke models through aggregation of skilled resources.”

The event was well attended by the representatives of Multilateral and bilateral agencies including UN Environment, UNDP, GIZ, representatives of various Government Departments, Industry and Industry associations and large number of RAC service technicians.