LED lighting is emerging as one of the brightest career options in the Indian economy. But, unfortunately, there is not enough talent available to meet the growth

Diksha P Gupta


(Image courtesy: www.cali-light.com)

The global economic slowdown in the year 2008-09 was a major blow to the engineering community. That was the time when many thought of switching to alternative career options that flourish despite economic downturn. Well, there is nothing that can guarantee a safe future but LED lighting is one field that is destined to grow in all circumstances, which is why the experts like to call it a future-proof career option.

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LED is where the growth is
Vijay Kumar Gupta, managing director, Kwality Photonics, says, “LED enjoys the reputation of being a growing segment worldwide even if the economies are facing a global slow-down. One section that is consistently growing is LED-led technology. It will continue to retain its fast paced growth all across the world and India is no exception. We are growing at a rate of 25-30 per cent. I think if we can have government purchasing on proper track, we should see almost double the sales within the next two years.”

LED lighting will take time to become commonplace in India but the fast-paced growth in the segment is tempting many international players to venture in the market. A glimpse of it can be seen in the electronics and LED expos being organised in the country. Companies like Wipro and Philips are banking big on the Indian market and hence they have chosen to invest in this sector.

Shailesh K. Tokekar, group manager-marketing, Wipro Lighting, says, “We have a large manufacturing facility in India, based out of Aurangabad. It is a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility with all the latest equipment. We also have a state-of-the-art experience centre there and a testing and certification laboratory. Wipro has invested heavily into R&D. Around 30 per cent of the workforce at Wipro’s LED division works on innovating new technology. This is the dedicated staff that I am talking about. It is difficult to give a number but I think it is sizeable. Given the fact that LED is one of the most growing segments in lighting, we are looking for constant expansion opportunities.”

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Needless to say, LED lighting is emerging as one of the brightest career options particularly in the Indian economy. But is there enough talent available to meet the growth? Unfortunately, the answer is ‘no’!

Dearth of talent
In LED lighting sector, the demand for talent is much more than the supply. Gupta paints the real picture of demand and supply of talent: “A large number of players are willing to enter the sector. Since it is too early to say, probably the sector may show a little bit of sluggishness. But once the sales take off, I think the amount of innovation required to keep pace with the rest of the world is quite large. And then there will a huge demand for the engineers as well as people holding diplomas from ITIs. This sector is already getting very lucrative because of the power supply constraints. Large-scale manufacturing of LED is already happening in east and west. India is also getting on the bus now. ”

Sumit Joshi, senior director-marketing, Philips Lighting, shares, “LED lighting is one of the emerging technologies but colleges in India have not upgraded themselves to meet this demand.”

Dheeraj Kapoor, director, Sahasra Sambhav Skill Development, adds, “Unfortunately, the colleges are not taking the LED lighting education seriously. The power electronics topic is handled in part in B.Tech courses, where they give preliminary education about LEDs. Students are not aware of the advanced LEDs, especially SMD devices, available in the market. They are not aware of the technology used in the SMD devices that are primarily driving the LED market right now. Power electronics is taught at a very basic level in the Indian colleges. So the current technologies that involve higher efficiencies are not covered in the actual curriculum. Thirdly, luminaries are not even touched upon.”

Here’s a solution…
The curriculum in colleges is designed as per the AICTE norms. In AICTE norms, LED as an industry segment is not very clearly defined, because it is a very recent development. Unfortunately, the curriculum taught in Indian colleges is outdated. It is not up-to-date with what is happening in the industry.

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Like in other fields of engineering, finishing schools play a prominent role for engineers willing to enter LED lighting field too. Sahasra Sambhav Skill Development is one such institution in Noida. Talking about the three-month course that the institution offers, Kapoor says, “What we offer is an add-on certification course. Typically, B.Tech graduates in electronics and communication or electrical and electronics streams can enrol for this three-month programme. We cover multiple aspects of LED lighting.”

“Earlier, lighting was confined to electrical domain, but now because of the advent of LED lighting, electronics has overshadowed the electrical part. LED lighting majorly involves the luminaries part. One part of it is how the lighting works and the second part is the integration of power electronics including what should be the drivers of LEDs and then the right selection of LEDs. We cover all these three aspects in the training. We also give candidates industrial exposure on how the LED lighting is being developed and manufactured in industries. We teach everything of LEDs, be it the drivers, the selection of components, etc,” he adds.

Such courses can be of help to diploma holders as well. An add-on course like this typically costs around Rs 25,000.

You can be an entrepreneur too
Career in LED lighting is not just about having an engineering job in a reputed company. LED lighting gives you the avenues of being an entrepreneur too. In fact, this trend is picking up fast in India.

Gupta says, “The established base of the LED industry is quite small. Most of the engineers can get into R&D of their own products and become entrepreneurs in their own rights. I think the field is very open and this is the most opportune time for engineers to make career in LED lighting. So if they want to become entrepreneurs in LED segment, they have to follow innovations happening across the globe. This can be easily done with the help of the Internet.”

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Yet another sector where LED engineers can find place is electronics manufacturing services (EMS). Currently, a lot of EMS companies are trying to offer solutions for LED lighting but are constrained by lack of driver solutions. One unique thing about LED drivers is that there is no fixed voltage or current. There are umpteen number of voltage and current combinations demanded by the market today, providing enough scope for engineers in this line. Apart from EMS companies, existing UPS and power supply companies like charger manufacturers are the action grounds for LED engineers. These companies are increasingly making efforts to expand their portfolio on LED drivers front.

There is money as well
LED lighting is one of the handsomely paid streams of engineering simply because there is no saturation in the industry. A fresher can get an annual package of around Rs 250,000 to begin with. Of course, the amount varies from company to company.

The author is an assistant editor at EFY