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Building A Skilled Manufacturing Economy For India

In an emerging economy, manufacturing is one of the critical drivers for its growth. Recent initiatives like ‘Make in India’ by the Government of India, has set ambitious targets of increasing the country’s manufacturing output by leaps and bounds

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Photo Credit : Reuters,

In an emerging economy, manufacturing is one of the critical drivers for its growth. Recent initiatives like ‘Make in India’ by the Government of India, has set ambitious targets of increasing the country’s manufacturing output by leaps and bounds. In fact, Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley, recently announced that India now holds the 6th rank globally, in manufacturing, thus affirming and reassuring the Government’s commitment towards the set goal.

A question of skill:

While India celebrates its upward trend in the manufacturing domain, questions around skilled labour and human resources continue to plague most minds. As per an India Skills Report 2017 by CII, India has a population of 1.2 billion people, out of which more than half are already an eligible workforce.However, manufacturers are grappling with a gap in supply and demand of manpower due to lack of requisite technical and soft skills. The ground reality is that 30 lakh graduates join the Indian job market every year but only about 5 lakhs of those are considered ‘employable’. In this era of digital transformation, the company workforce has to embrace technology with more vigour and while this presents incredible opportunities, it makes the skill-gap even more glaring.

Immediate challenges:

If India aims to be the next global manufacturing hub, there are various challenges that need to be addressed with an immediate sense of urgency. These include:

Finding the right talent for the right role: Talent available maybe ready in terms of knowledge, but when it comes to an industry-ready workforce, many continue to be on the back foot.

Limited focus on vocational training and fated education system: There exists a wide gap between the engineering curricula and the actual requirements of the industry. In turn, companies end up investing large sums of money, time and effort on training and unlearning/re-training new talent.

Manufacturing isn’t seen as a primary career choice: While the winds of change can be felt in pockets, India continues to be the land of traditional degrees, making manufacturing an unlikely career choice.

The action-plan: 

As mature economies grapple with challenges such as rapidly aging populations and baby-booming retirements, emerging economies like India are all set for the next phase of manufacturing growth. A seamless partnership between the industry and Government of India will enable the next wave of manufacturing growth:

Reforms at grassroots level: There is a need to introduce traditional and vocational education together at an early schooling age, under the existing National Skills Policy, along with other initiatives such as ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’. Companies need to join forces with various educational institutes to impart technical education by bringing industry practices into the learning system and improving the skills of both instructors and students.

Industry-academia partnership: Government policies and actions cannot alone drive growth of manufacturing industry. Thus, we propose a greater and constructive participation through industry-academia collaboration to ensure industry-ready workforce.

Renewed employee-value proposition: The manufacturing industry shares a common talent pool with some of the better paying or career advancing industries such as IT services, technology, banking, etc. Thus, making it even more crucial for manufacturing companies to adopt new age hiring techniques and retention measures to cater to the new age millennial workforce.

Focus on creating a digital eco-system: Some experts and industry pundits forecast concerns on the future of HR, with the rise in digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation and robotics. With digitization, HR can focus on huge value adds at the strategic level as I believe that the business models will undergo rapid changes and hence the need for new skills and change management.


Tags assigned to this article:
manufacturing economy Skilling manufacturing industry

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