Right from its formation, Kerala has been among the most progressive and developed states in India, topping the literacy charts and doing consistently well in terms of human development indices. In recent years, though, concerns over high unemployment have led authorities to explore options beyond indigenous industries, tourism, and agriculture as sources of employment. This includes infrastructure development, engineering, IT and the service sector. The key project that is attracting attention is the development of Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram as ‘smart cities’, a move aimed at attracting FDI inflow, establishing Kerala as an industrial and technology hub, and eventually generating steady employment avenues.
Over and above the high literacy rates, the state of Kerala boasts of a vast pool of readily available engineering talent, including 30,000 engineering graduates, 48,180 engineering diploma holders, and 86,191 ITI certificate holders. The millennials, who constitute this talent pool, belong to a generation that is extremely aware and comfortable with technology. Over the past decade, they have also been consistently exposed to disruptive technologies such as IoT, cloud, predictive analytics etc., all of which serve as the foundation for smart cities. Expertise in disruptive technologies will be the key for smart cities, and people with specialized skills and knowledge will be on high demand, not just during the formation of the smart cities, but also in the way the smart cities transform the overall industry landscape in Kerala.
Kerala remains an agriculture-intensive state, but to keep with the global trends, the focus needs to shift from subsistence farming to knowledge-intensive farming. This could call for an entirely new profession of agri-consultants and agricultural engineers, who, with access to information on technological advances in agricultural practices across the globe, can help put them into practice for the farmers.
Kerala is also involved in distribution of fish, meat and dairy products across the state as well as to other states and even for export. Dairy engineering turnkey as well as piecemeal automation of the dairy industry will provide avenues for employment of metallurgists for SS fabrication, electronics engineers for automation and, of course, IT professionals for smooth running of automated dairy plants.
Coir and handloom industry, the second largest employer in the state, is increasingly adopting power looms and automation, consequently improving efficiency, and the natural outcome of improved efficiency is upscaling and need for human resources.
For all these industries, the smart cities are applying evolution of smarter logistics and distribution that will make sure that perishable produce is not wasted on account of spoilage or lack of storage facilities. All of these can be enabled by automated supply chain management and procurement technology, and the implementation of these facilities will require a vast pool of engineering and technology talent.
Smart cities across the globe have one common characteristic: optimization of resources including energy, electricity, water etc. The infrastructure of any such establishment will involve setting up of power plants, water treatment and sewage treatment units, utilities etc., all of which require engineering expertise, over and above manual labor. In Kerala, qualified engineers are in abundance, so there is clearly no dearth of human capital.
 The Economic Review for 2016 tabled in the assembly by state Finance Minister Thomas Issac