Lixil Group Corp., Japan’s leading manufacturer of household products, has launched a training program for plumbers in India to help fill a shortage of such workers while improving professional standards.

Dubbed “Project Nadee,” the program aims to produce 50,000 commercially licensed plumbers in the next five years, said Bijoy Mohan, CEO of Lixil Asia Pacific, at a launch event in New Delhi last week. Lixil Asia Pacific is a group division based in Singapore.

The program employs mobile learning and in-person training. It is designed to improve plumbers’ earning power by giving them certified skills. Plumbers in the South Asian country do not usually receive formal technical training and generally make poor wages.

Mohan said the Japanese group will help expand business opportunities for certified plumbers to boost their earning potential, by hiring them for its own operations and dealerships while also referring them to developers and e-commerce platforms looking for professionals for their home services.

The Indian Institute of Plumbing, established as a training arm of the Indian Plumbing Association, says on its website that the quality of plumbing work has long been an issue in India.

“Plumbers are often unqualified or have graduated from being casual laborers with no education or training,” it says.

As part of efforts to expand overseas, Lixil inaugurated a sanitary equipment plant last week in Bhimadole, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh — the company’s first such manufacturing plant in India.

It said early this year it planned to invest $65 million for the acquisition of local company Sentini Sanitarywares Pvt., along with the plant, which has been converted into a state-of-the-art facility to bolster Lixil’s production of ceramics.

Lixil plans to achieve full-scale ceramic production within two years and then eventually double the plant’s output from the current capacity of 1 million units a year.

The Tokyo-based firm is planning to scale up its distribution network in India, from around 250 stores to 1,000 by the end of the business year ending in March 2019 and then ramp up to 10,000 in next five years, Mohan said.

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