Leather technology in recent times is fast emerging as a lucrative career option. Until a few years ago, those who happened to be in the industry were there through experience rather than through any formal training. But now, in India, scores of institutes are offering certificate as well as diploma courses in designing as well as production, adding a much needed professionalism to this industry.
The Indian leather industry is growing by leaps and bounds. One must be wondering why is India exporting so much of leather to western countries. Apparently because leatherwear still enjoys a great demand abroad and nowadays even the domestic market is developing and consuming the offerings of this industry. To many, it would also be a surprise to know that the Indian Leather industry is the fourth largest export earner in the country. One can only imagine what shape this industry takes on further maturing.
Nature of Work
The demand of the leather goods is on the rise and is expected to grow further. With more and more multinationals coming to India, this industry is poised to become a hi-tech industry. Leatherwear constitutes a variety of products ranging from footwear and accessories like belts, bags, purses and caps to toys, upholstery, baggage, musical instruments, garment tags, gift items etc. The largest sub-section of this industry is still footwear, despite growing competition from the materials like synthetics and fabric.
At present, most of the people in this industry are not trained but now with this industry advancing and developing both technologically and professionally, it calls for qualified professionals to cater to the needs and requirements of the people. Thinking of this industry as a career option, one can either take up designing or may get into the technical side that is production, depending upon the interest and aptitude. Both the options are rewarding. As far as designing is concerned, worldover, designers have started using leather as an important part of their designer wear and accessories, which has made leather amongst the top apparel material. The other option being production is also not a bad proposition. On attaining requisite qualifications in the field of production, one can start working with leather manufactuing companies and tanneries. On gaining experience setting up self owned production unit can also be given a thought. The initiative can be advantageous as it is a low cost-intensive small scale unit, requiring relatively small investment, cheap labour, raw material and minimal power supply.
Leather industry as such, does not ask for very special attributes but just like any other industry, to be a high achiever, commitment, dedication and hardwork are the key, the same goes true for this industry. If one happens to be in the production line. The work can be quite tiring, specially while working in the tanneries and production houses, often involving a lot of physical hardwork and strain.
Designing sucessfully, on the other hand is more of a combination of mental ability and artistic finesse. Creativity with uniqueness can do wonders for designers. So being creative and orignal is of utmost importance. They should combine well their mental ability to constantly think and come up with new ideas, with dexterity so as to give shape to their ideas.
Whether designing or production of leather garments, footwear or accessories, professional qualification is important to up-date with the latest international standards and competition. The various institutes offering courses in leather garment designing and technology are as follows.
- Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), Adyar, Chennai 600020.
- College of Leather Technology, Salt lake City, Calcuttta 700091.
- Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI), Noida 201301.
- Centeral Footwear Training Institute (CFTI), Agra.
- National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi 110016.
- AVI School of Fashion and Shoe Technology, S.C.O., 493-94, 2nd Floor, Sector 35-C, Chandigarh.
- Shoe Design Centre, 5477/72, Kikarwala Chowk, Karol Bagh, New Delhi 110005
- Central Footwear Training Institute (CFTI), 65/1, GST Road, Guindy, Chennai 600032.
- Indian Institute of Leather Products (IILP),102, Mangalapuram, SIDCO Industrial Estate, Ambattur, Chennai.
- Prototype Development and Training Centre (PDTC), National Small Industries Development Organisation, Guindy Industrial Estate, Ekkaduthangal, PO, Chennai 600097.
- VTA Institutes of Leather and Leather Products, 21, Kailashgiri Road, Udaendram, Vaniyambadi 635734.
- Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology, Muzaffarpur 842003.
- Anna University, Sardar Patel Road, Guindy, Chennai 600025.
- Bharath Institute of Science and Technology, 173, Agharam Road, Selaiyur PO, Chennai 600073.
- Priyadarshini Engineering College, Anna Salai, Konamedu, Vaniyambadi, 635751, Vellore Distt.
- Harcourt Butter Technological Institute, Kanpur 208002.
- Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Regional Engineering College, P.O., REC Jalandhar 144011.
Colleges, Institutions and Universities
The leather industry is set to boom with bright career opportunities in both technical and designing areas. The Indian corporates alongwith foreign multinationals in this industry have made it possible to look forward to exciting employment options. Earlier Indian exports included only raw materials, but now leather goods are fast catching up with increasing acceptance in the international markets. This has enhanced opportunities for designers.
Designers are found to be working with footwear companies as technical designers and stylist designers. While Technical designers train themselves in pattern making, cutting, designing, Stylist designers are responsible for updating the product in fashion and style. Designers are also employed by leather garment production houses and boutiques. Established designers also hire young designers to work under them.
On gaining sufficient experience, one can also set up his own unit for production and marketing of leather based products. As far as career growth and progression is concerned it is purely performance based and there is no limit to what one can achieve.
As most of the jobs are in the private sector, pay is generally high. With Multinationals setting up their bases in India, this industry is no longer confined to small scale and financial returns can be quite satisfactory. Fresh recruits can expect a starting pay package between Rs. 5000 - 10000 p.m., depending upon their qualifications and the size of the organisation. For freelancers and those self-employed in their own units returns are not fixed. It varies from one another based on individual performance.