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The Challenge of Manpower

In recent years, the major challenge faced by the growing Indian Spa and Wellness industry has been that of sourcing skilled manpower. It is crucial for the industry to source good spa therapists (manpower) that meet the required quality standards (training) set by a government body, spa association or institute. Spa Mantra discusses the issue with asks some industry experts who to present their views and solutions that can help pave the way forward.

Dr. Manish Patwardhan, President ISWA (Indian Spa & Wellness Association)

Founder, CEO, Spa Consultants &Urban Nirvana

Why is manpower the biggest challenge in the spa and wellness industry?

The staff employed at spas mainly comes from extremely low socio-economic background and hence not well educated. In fact we may see that most of the staff in the industry has an average education up-to IV or V grade.  Labour employed in this industry has to be highly skilled in various aspects like spa therapies, hospitality, English (Language), manners and etiquette, grooming, hygiene and sanitation, among others.


Even today, this industry is not being viewed as a formal sector and working as a masseuse is still considered as taboo by many. Lack of standards and proper education at a cost effective price is also another stumbling block in the creation of manpower for this industry.  A Basic Curriculum must be created, that can be then introduced as education curriculum for the spa industry in India. It is important that critical and sensitive issues like entry level requirements, course structure, its duration, recognition to prior learning; affordable fee structures, etc. need to be addressed with extreme caution.

The spa and wellness industry can come together and work on creating an Industry status for this business. Keeping this in mind, the ISWA (the Indian Spa and Wellness Association) has been formed. Other Associations or Forums need to collaborate to reform the industry and give it a respectable status. and help spa training become a  part of the professional education stream. This will hopefully help parents to confidently send their children to purse a spa course.

Reeta Juneja, CEO, Vedic Mantra Spas- unit of Baidyanath Group; MD of ReetaJuneja Inc.& ED of Reeta Juneja Spa Consulting

Currently, what is the source of trained spa therapists?

Today, many spas, especially the smaller ones have on-the-job or in-house training which is not up to the required standards. Very often this training does not allow the trainee to benefit from a professionally managed curriculum and quality education under the supervision of experts rather than colleagues at work.

This problem needs a long term solution and the government is trying to address this with the setting of a national academy. I also think they need to encourage professional spa educators – even funding them whenever possible.

In the interim, it is vital to relax foreign hiring to ensure that growth of the spa industry is not prematurely impacted. This is not a matter of Thai or Balinese therapists being better suited or more professional at their work than Indian therapists, especially given India’s long standing tradition and culture of hospitality. In the face of a shortage of experienced Indian therapists, those are the only markets where the cost of hiring is still at an acceptable level for certain luxury spas in India.

Reeta Juneja Inc is also in talks with certain parties for a collaborative investment into an International Spa Academy with a focus on therapeutic treatments for medium to long term solutions for the industry.

Paulomi Dhawan, MD, Landmarc Leisure

How can the industry standardize the supply of manpower?

Given the promise that the wellness sector holds in generating employment, it is essential for the industry bodies and government to help stimulate the development of the industry. Institutes must be equipped with certifications in order to focus on quality and showcase viability. Interest and dedication to make a career in this field is of utmost importance since courses require a lot of physical and skillful work.

According to industry estimates, the existing 2300 spas in the country have created direct and indirect employment for about 400,000 people and require 20,000 more trained professionals.

 The Wellness Industry opens doors to people from all walks of society. With graded educational certifications and an industry-driven approach which is standardized and consistent, we are confident that the Wellness Sector will thrive in the years to come…Read the full version of the article on (Issue 3 page 72)

Compiled | Ayesha Augustine


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