Report says that 66% plumbers are unskilled. Can on-demand home services startups change the trend?

By Press Trust of India|10th Sep 2015
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Pointing to a yawning gap between skills training and the final output in the plumbing industry, a report said that up to 66 per cent of plumbers are not fit enough to handle real world challenges. A total of 55-66 per cent are unable to handle real world plumbing situations where they need to observe, identify and solve a problem by application of plumbing knowledge combined with analytical reasoning, according to the Skills Plumbers 2015 report by assessment firm Aspiring Minds.


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However, about 80 per cent of the candidates have knowledge of basic plumbing principles such as usage of tools and pipe fittings. The report was based on a comprehensive and standardised assessment of 3,000 plumbers across India who took plumbing training for 4-8 weeks in 2014. The report put the spotlight on the need for a more hands-on training curriculum, which will not only help vocational workers gain a better socio-economic status but help build a stronger nation that has well-planned cities, villages and houses.

"Skills will define opportunity in the 21st century, and there is a global trend to identify, train, assess and deploy skills to boost productivity and growth. With soaring demand for the plumbing profession from Make in India to Swachh Bharat, plumbing skills will help create opportunity for millions of youth", Aspiring Minds co-founder and CEO Himanshu Aggarwal said.

The report added that since plumbing is largely a skilled trade which involves repair, installation and maintenance of drainage, water supply and heating systems, plumbers "must be familiar with water and building regulations, country specific codes of practice and health and safety issues". However, 40 per cent plumbers are not trained to handle emergency health and safety situations arising out of their jobs, it said.

The report stressed that plumbers need to possess essential people skills to grow their customer base and communicate with the team they work in. It also found that 33 per cent plumbers did not adapt to a new environment or match customer expectations. "Hence, it becomes a need to be addressed carefully through training sessions," it said.

With water being an extremely important and scarce resource, there are several startups like Handyman and Honestcollars working in the field. While Handyman maintains more than 2000 units in 5 cities and offers integrated solutions to suit their clients’ needs; Honestcollars bridges the gap between household workers and houses who need them with. Local technicians and service centres, listing portals such as JustDial, Sulekha, YellowPages, Near.in; and service providers such as Jack on Block, Hammer and Mop are in the same segment indirectly. While aggregators likeUrbanClap, TimeSaverz, Taskbob, Mr. Right and Zepper are in the same segment directly. On the global front Amazon, Thumbtack, Handy, TaskRabbit, and Alfred are in the same segment too. The question is, can these startups create a win-win situation for both business and the environment by enabling these plumbers and other such handymen?

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