"Offering Gig Assignments Internally Helps Upskill Workers"

Abhishek Misra, HR Head at Rockwell Automation India believes that to upskill the workforce within, organisations can design a ‘talent marketplace’ and offer 'gig' stretch assignments to employees internally to help enhance their skills


As industries increasingly embrace robotics, automation, and digital tools, the balance between traditional expertise and digital proficiency becomes crucial for maintaining competitiveness. Abhishek Misra, Head of Human Resources at Rockwell Automation India, shares insights into navigating this delicate balance, the influence of robotics on hiring, innovative approaches to upskilling, and advice for HR practitioners to stay abreast of the latest trends shaping the manufacturing workforce.

How has the landscape of hiring in the manufacturing industry evolved over the past few years? 

Hiring in manufacturing is seeing trends around more diverse hiring, which includes gender, generational, and ethnic diversity, and hiring people with special abilities. Also, apart from core skills, organisations are looking for digitally literate candidates. Organisations are hiring non-traditional candidates from different academic backgrounds and are using diverse platforms such as social media, employee referrals, and passive candidates.

How do you navigate the balance between traditional manufacturing skills and the need for digital literacy in the workforce? 

Traditional manufacturing skills are foundational, and digital skills complement the traditional skills. It is not a question of either or but about having both. For example, a maintenance engineer can get efficient if one understands Augmented Reality (AR) and can use these tools to troubleshoot and resolve issues quickly on the shop floor. A traditional engineer would have to rely on his experience alone to solve such challenges, which may be time-consuming.

In what ways are robotics and automation technologies influencing the hiring landscape, especially in roles that involve machine operation and maintenance? 

Robotics and automation combine the power of data, information, and automation to drive outcomes. For example, robots can replace humans in hazardous processes or industries like chemicals, mining, and tunnelling. It means that organisations can invest and hire talent in specialised functions such as sustainability, digitalisation, cybersecurity, etc.

What are some innovative approaches to training and upskilling the existing manufacturing workforce? 

The world is evolving extremely fast with the pace of technological changes, environmental changes, and geo-political changes happening around us. It is crucial for employees and organisations to constantly unlearn and relearn to remain relevant in this fast-changing world. Hence, training and upskilling should be an inherent part of all organisations, including manufacturing organisations. A few innovative approaches are around curating self-paced learning programmes on learning platforms accessible through multiple devices like mobile & laptop. Another way is to design a ‘talent marketplace’ and offer 'gig' stretch assignments to employees internally. It will be helpful in enhancing their skills. Mentorship is another impactful approach to learning.

In a competitive talent market, what advice do you have for HR practitioners to stay updated on the latest trends and technologies impacting the manufacturing workforce? 

HR practitioners must be aware of the fast-moving technological landscape and its impact on talent requirements, technology adoption, and skill-building within the company. They should ensure that the organisation has an adequate balance of gender and generational diversity across levels. HR practitioners, with business leaders, must evaluate organisational requirements and create enough domain expertise for the company in critical areas, such as sustainability, digital transformation, cyber security, etc. The other focus areas for HR are leadership development, leadership succession and creating an engaging and inspiring workplace.


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