However, the bigger issue threatening the industry is lack of adequate skill sets, said Tapan Nandi, Regional Chairman, Council of Leather Exports in India. According to Nandi, raw material shortage can be managed, but the manpower shortage is a serious problem.
“The pay is such that after a few months most young people quit this industry. Skill development is also something they are deprived of", Nandi explained.
“The West Bengal government have started schools to train people, but somehow this has not picked up. We are trying our best to revive it again", he added.
Incidentally, China is also facing similar problems. According to estimates, labour costs in the Chinese leather industry have increased from $0.39 per hour in 2003 to more than $1 per hour in recent years. This opens up an opportunity for India, but inadequate investment in capacity and infrastructure issues such as power and labour cost are holding back the Indian leather industry.