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SKILL DEVELOPMENT Industry 4.0 is going to redefine the job market

Apr 10, 2020

…mentions Nikunj Sanghi, President & Chairman – Automotive Skill Development Council (ASDC), Past President and EC Member, FADA and Founder, J S Fourwheel Motors, in this interview with Anvita Pillai. ASDC, an organisation helping the present and the upcoming industry workforce to cope with transformations, constant skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling, is helping the industry continually develop and upgrade the automotive skills for higher value additions. In this conversation, he details on how companies can work on upskilling their blue collar workers, shift from ICE engines to EVs, effect of the Budget 2020, the topics of discussion at the IAMS 2020 (where they are the Skill Development Partner) and more. Excerpts…

Blue-collared workers have been feeling a little under threat since the advent of Industry 4.0/digitalisation. How do you think the companies can ensure a smooth upgradation of these workers into the phase of technology?

The technological upgradation is bound to bring in greater efficiency and productivity. The impact on the job market is rightly expected and so is the fear of the workers. However, despite the population explosion in India more than ever, people are now a part of the workforce. This parallel increment in the workforce and workforce requirement, hence, balances out the current situation. Therefore, the current blue-collar workers need not feel threatened because the efforts of the government, along with ASDC, are making sure that the industry stays in harmony. Industry 4.0 is going to redefine the job market and lead to the rise of new-collar jobs. ASDC has a strong program for the training and development of various workers and existing employees of the companies to make them future-ready. Companies can train their employees into broader skill-sets and can gradually adopt new organisational models and familiarise the workforce with a novel interaction with new technologies.

You have been very vocal about your opinion on the low employment conversion numbers of people who have been certified by the ASDC. What do you think is the core reason for this? How do you plan on counteracting this problem?

The automotive industry is changing swiftly, and the change is largely a positive one, with the rapidly developing and improving technological infrastructures at bay. In addition, the industry is facing many major disruptions, owing to the obligation of adhering to some urgent regulatory deadlines and is also meddled by the global pandemic. These challenges have severely deteriorated the industry's ability to create enough job opportunities. ASDC was initially rooted to the government schemes and certifying candidates as per the framework but due to these wide-ranging disruptions, these candidates fell short when it came to delivering results as per the industry standards. We realised what was needed and quickly roped in the leading automobile manufacturers, such as Maruti, Tata and Hero MotoCorp, for more relevant, insightful learning. We also got on board TCS iON as an independent assessment agency, which has evaluated over 3000 assessments. These efforts have brought us closer to the industry requirements.

With electric vehicles slowly entering the manufacturing industry, how do you think companies can upgrade their personnel? Is ASDC offering any training/courses for the same?

Just as the global automotive market is undergoing rapid transformation, the Indian automotive sector is also experiencing the addition of better technologies. For that matter, in the Indian automobile industry, the shift from the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) to electric vehicles is being viewed as a market disruptor. This shift is projected to have a large impact on the nature of the job throughout the entire automotive value chain. The industry would need some time for evaluating the extent of change and modifying their functions accordingly. Our analysis suggests that employees will have to be highly skilled to move ahead in synergy with the change. To make this happen, the automotive companies should focus on creating collaborative learning ecosystems & develop informative workforce retraining programs across various levels. ASDC is working in this direction and moving forward. In 2019, we had initiated some engagements with global institutions for curating content programs on electric vehicles. We expect advancements in the same.

There is still a gap between new technologies and skilled workers who can operate the same. How can the Indian auto industry work on reducing this gap?

The Indian auto industry is undergoing a transition in terms of new technologies and skills. This coupled with everchanging consumer preferences and neo-mobility solutions, like carpooling, is significantly impacting the human resource requirements. There is no doubt that there is still a long way to go and the current workforce lacks the crucial requisites, and the companies & the industry at large can do much to ease the situation. The industry needs a robust, integrated framework to meet the imminent skill demand, backed by training and upgrading the existing workforce with practical, hands-on experience, for greater efficiency and better results. Enterprises should consider working in proximity with the government in order to ensure the success of its efforts and reap out the greater benefit from the Skill India mission.

Keeping in mind the slowdown since the last financial year in the Indian automotive industry, do you think this year’s Budget would help the industry step out of the slowdown mode? How do you think organisations can effectively make the best out of this situation?

The budget, at large, is expected to have a positive impact on the sector. However, for the automobile industry, keeping in mind a holistic view, because of the unprecedented crisis, the budget can only have a diluted effect. We are keenly awaiting the formation of the Economic Taskforce as announced by our honourable Prime Minister and hoping for adequate economic support from the same. For organisations, one of the best things to do at the moment is to contribute towards the goal of creating a future-ready, skilled pool of manpower.

Since you are the skill development partner at the International Automotive Manufacturing Summit (IAMS 2020), can you detail on what topic of interest would you be covering at the summit?

Partnering with the IAMS 2020, ASDC is excitedly looking forward to how the association unfolds. The summit is scheduled to take place in June this year. Owing to this, it would not be justified to predict the scale to which the summit would evolve right now. Personally, however, keeping in mind the industry trends, some of the subjects that interest me include EV, BS VI, skill development and upgradation in the times of sustainability & Industry 4.0.

You are a veteran in this industry and there are possibly very few others who know it as well as you do. How well do you think the automotive industry will fare in this financial year? What are some plans of ASDC to ensure they are strong contributors to the industry growth?

Albeit having a fast growth rate, the Indian automotive sector lacks a skilled workforce to keep up with the requisites of this pace. It would be premature to ascertain the roadmap for the industry for the financial year from now because we don’t know how the situation would pan out. However, there is a surety of one thing and it is that the most pertinent aspect of sustaining the high growth of the sector is to create a future-ready workforce, while addressing the scale and quality paradigms. And this is where ASDC is making a difference by training and equipping the workforce with the necessary techniques for meeting the increasing skill demand. Consequently, hiring in the automotive industry needs recalibration as the workforce will continue to play a critical role and be a key differentiator.

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  • Nikunj Sanghi

    President & Chairman – Automotive Skill Development Council (ASDC)

    Past President and EC Member, FADA

    Founder, J S Fourwheel Motors

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