The leather industry occupies prominence in the Indian economy because of its massive potential for employment, growth and exports. The leather and footwear industry directly employs approximately 4.5 million people, with more than 30% being women.
Established in 1948, CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute has interwoven its research efforts to meet the training needs of industry since the time industry was operating in the cottage sector. Realizing the significance of this synergy, the University of Madras handed over the Department of Leather Technology to be housed at CSIR-CLRI. CSIR-CLRI employs Science and Technology to develop society through a strong connection of the academy, research and industry, hosting the trinity model. The Institute's education, training and skill development initiatives nurture human resources, which transforms as change agents and enables percolation of the cutting-edge technologies developed at CSIR-CLRI into the industry. Latest in the list includes technologies like the Waterless chrome tanning process, Electro-oxidation based zero wastewater discharge, smart leathers, compost for agricultural applications, product for dry tanning, high-value collagenous products and activated carbon from trimming and fleshing wastes, preservation-cum-unhairing process and biogas for energy conservation. The transfer of such technologies to the leather and leather product industries (existing and startups) have contributed directly to an increase in the existing employee base and new job creation.
CSIR-CLRI has also developed technologies for culling out wealth from waste, including combining banana fibres and leather scrap and exotic leather products from chicken feet skins (poultry waste). These interventions have been disseminated via training programmes to startup based as well as the artisanal workforce.
CSIR-CLRI has always led the nation in skill development programmes at the primary level. Around 9390 artisans have been trained pan India since 2006 in association with sponsoring organizations like National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation and Gujarat Rural Industries Marketing Corporation Limited, and 3703 artisans trained by Central Footwear Training Institute have been assessed for skill training. More than 80% of primary level candidates are placed every year in wage/ self-employment, with around 5% of candidates taking up entrepreneurship (individual/ Self-Help Groups). Under the Leather Technology Mission, CSIR-CLRI has revived the traditional Kolhapuri chappal in the Athani leather cluster of Karnataka through technological intervention and training support, benefitting around 250 artisanal families.
CSIR-CLRI is the programme implementation unit (tannery sector) under the Indian Footwear Leather and Accessories Development Programme, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (formerly DIPP), Government of India and has contributed to the creation of jobs for 9272 skilled workforce from 2017 to 2021. During the 11th and 12th five-year plans, CSIR-CLRI functioned as the National Monitoring Unit to monitor the human resource activities sponsored by the DIPP, monitoring around 5.5 Lakh candidates pan India.
Probing into high-end skilling requirements, more than 3400 Indians have undergone professional training from CSIR-CLRI in the form of Diploma, PG Diploma and industry-oriented executive courses (standardized and tailor-made). 30% of these candidates are entrepreneurs generating employment and balance are occupying prominent positions in the industry. CSIR-CLRI organizes various academic programmes - B. Tech. (Leather Technology), M. Tech. (Leather Technology/ Footwear Science and Engineering) and M.S. by research in collaboration with Anna University. Having stepped into the Platinum Jubilee Year, more than 2000 candidates have completed their B to date.Tech/M.Tech programmes through this academic partnership. Today, the industry's absorption of CSIR-CLRI trained technologists is close to 100% of the supply. CSIR-CLRI also strides on the acclaim of generating more than 450 Doctoral candidates to date in leather and allied sectors in association with Anna University, Madras University and Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research. Today, 50% of the Indian Leather Industry is being manned and managed by CSIR-CLRI alumni. They command a 1 in 3 ratios of the global supply of tertiary level workforce in the leather industry.
Capacitating national and international training institutions in leather and leather products have always been on the agenda of CSIR-CLRI. More than 450 citizens from 65 countries (including 14 countries of Africa) have been trained at CSIR-CLRI, carving an internationally viable research cum skill ecosystem. The Leather Industry Development Institute (LIDI) in Ethiopia on a twinning mode is a classic example. It has led to the growth transformation of the leather sector in Ethiopia.
CSIR-CLRI has successfully registered 8 of its PG Diploma, Diploma and executive courses under the National Qualifications Register. It is the first Laboratory among CSIR to obtain such accreditation and issue accredited skill certificates for its Skill Development Programmes under the National Skill Development Agency. CSIR-CLRI is also an assessor and endorsing body for the Leather Sector Skill Council (LSSC).
Thus, CSIR-CLRI would continue its journey keeping in mind its motto of "doing better today than yesterday forever", building lives from the bottom.