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Green HR & Global Talent: Shaping The Future Of Automotive Workforce

"As emerging technologies like fusion AI, edge computing, generative AI, ChatGPT & Video ChatGPT are reshaping industries and talent landscape globally, the corporate-academia interface becomes crucial in preparing the workforce for the challenges ahead," says Varinder Kumar Verma, Head- HR Strategy & Transformation, Maruti Suzuki India

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In the dynamic landscape of the global automotive industry, the quest for a skilled workforce and sustainable practices has become paramount. As the demand for cutting-edge skills accelerates, companies are redefining their strategies to bridge the skill gap and align with the imperatives of a sustainable future. Varinder Kumar Verma, Head- HR Strategy & Transformation, Maruti Suzuki India, delves into industry-centric initiatives, emphasising the collaborative efforts between corporations, academia and government to nurture talent and promote sustainable practices.

Corporate-Academia Interface

Industry leaders worldwide are recognising the need for a symbiotic relationship between corporations and educational institutions. Collaborations, such as those between Maruti Suzuki and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in India, exemplify the global trend. These partnerships ensure that educational programmes align with industry demands, fostering a pipeline of skilled professionals. 

"As emerging technologies like fusion AI, edge computing, generative AI, ChatGPT & Video ChatGPT are reshaping industries and talent landscape globally, the corporate-academia interface becomes crucial in preparing the workforce for the challenges ahead,” highlights Verma. 

Futuristic Skills Development

The automotive industry's future lies in the hands of professionals equipped with skills aligned with emerging technologies. Companies, following a "build versus buy" strategy, are actively identifying and nurturing these skills. Maruti Suzuki's initiatives, including the Maruti Suzuki Training Academy and collaborations with government institutions and prestigious engineering and management schools, showcase a commitment to developing a workforce ready for the demands of tomorrow. These programmes serve as a blueprint for global corporations seeking to stay ahead in the race for talent.

“Notably, our attention extends to cultivating expertise in testing and other unique critical skills that are currently scarce. Addressing the contemporary challenge, we recognise that certain skills are becoming obsolete rapidly, while emerging ones require swift development,” adds Verma.

Human Touch in Skill Development

In an era where technology dominates, preserving the human touch in skill development remains critical. HR divisions globally are focusing not only on technical skills but also on behavioral and leadership skills. A mix of traditional classroom learning, on-the-job training, and immersive learning experiences, incorporating augmented and virtual reality (AR & VR), are becoming standard practices. This approach ensures that professionals are not only technically proficient but also possess the interpersonal skills necessary for collaborative and innovative work environments.

“We are facilitating the employees’ learning journey by providing support and creating various avenues for skill acquisition. This involves a multifaceted approach, integrating on-the-job training, experiential learning and immersive techniques through gamification and augmented reality interventions. The incorporation of AR and VR technologies is complemented by the establishment of dexterity schools, enhancing the overall learning experience.”

Maintaining a human touch at the core of the HR practices, Maruti Suzuki prioritises the 3C's: Communication, Compassion, and Collaboration. This emphasis on humanising resources underscores the commitment of the organisation to a sanitized and an empathetic workplace.

Workplace Trends and Transformations

The evolving nature of work has prompted organisations to redefine their workplace structures. With a nuanced understanding of tasks, organisations can categorize roles based on their physical or digital nature, allowing for flexible work models. The post-COVID era has witnessed a surge in hybrid work environments, with tasks categorized as physical, hybrid or entirely remote. This shift serves as a model for the global automotive industry as it adapts to the changing dynamics of work.

“We are strategically aligning tasks and roles with business needs. Identifying physically intensive jobs like car assembly or machine work, we acknowledge their necessity. Additionally, we've categorized roles as partially remote, allowing for tasks like design to be done from home and implemented on-site. While full remote work is limited due to cultural considerations, there's a gradual shift towards embracing this approach,” shares Verma. 

Green HR and Sustainability

As global industries align with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) norms, sustainability has become a cornerstone of corporate strategies. Companies are establishing dedicated divisions for ESG and sustainability, echoing their commitment to being carbon and technology-neutral. 

The paramount consideration in this technological evolution is the careful evaluation of advancements to ensure that human roles are not compromised. This approach maintains sensitivity, prioritising the human element and fostering socially responsible enterprises for enduring sustainability.

Automotive industry-wide endeavors are concentrated on three pivotal dimensions: achieving economies of scale, optimising operational efficiency and harnessing the potential of enabling technologies. Technology, functioning as a universal enabler, plays a critical role in augmenting human capabilities and fortifying foundations for a sustainable future. 

“We have made significant strides in prioritising environmental sustainability. Over the past few years, our HR division has been dedicated to Green HR initiatives. A key achievement has been the swift implementation of ‘NEEV’ (Nurturing Employee Experience and Value) platform, enhancing the overall employee experience within a remarkably short timeframe – what we fondly term as the ‘four months wonders”, adds Verma. 

The core of Maruti Suzuki's digital transformation foundation, represented by NEEV, centers on the three S's: Skill, Scale, and Scalability. This framework aims to achieve the three E's - Efficiency, Economy, and Effectiveness. In tandem, the corporate initiatives are guided by the GPS principles: Growth, Profit, and Sustainability. 

Green Human Resources (HR) practices are emerging as a global focal point, reflecting a collective commitment to environmental responsibility and operational efficiency. These initiatives transcend individual organisations, signifying a broader industry-wide dedication to incorporating sustainable practices into the very fabric of HR strategies.

Retention Strategies and Internal Mobility

Employee retention strategies are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with a focus on creating inclusive cultures and aligning individual aspirations with organisational goals. Companies are adopting role-based organisational models, evaluating skills, identifying gaps and providing development opportunities. Transparent communication of career paths fosters internal mobility, ensuring that employees feel valued and engaged. “Maruti Suzuki's remarkably low white collar attrition rate of 2.9% serves as a testament to the success of such strategies in retaining talent.”

The automotive industry is at the forefront of a global paradigm shift in workforce development and sustainability. Companies worldwide can draw inspiration from initiatives undertaken by industry leaders understanding that collaboration, futuristic skills development, human-centric approaches and sustainability are integral to steering the industry toward excellence.



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