We have tie-ups with ITIs where we impart industry- specific training to students
Advance planning helps in dealing with skill shortages. At times, geographic locations can contribute to skill shortages and that too has to be taken into account while formulating a strategy, says SK Dutt, President & Head - Group HR & CHRO, ABG Group. ABG is the largest shipbuilding company in India with an order book of approximately USD 3 billion. The company has now entered the cement market with cement plant capacity of over 6 mtpa. Excerpts from the interview.
Is the industry facing skill shortage? How is it dealing with such a situation?
There is a skill shortage in the industry if you look at it as a whole; more in some vocations and less in others. To cope with this, the corporate sector relies on advance manpower planning in terms of ensuring supply of talent, year after year. We do this by looking at our skill demand and supply projection and trends and compare that with our budgeted/forecasted requirement based on growth plans. After which, based on our past experience, we take further action. We look at availability of people internally and factor in those who can be absorbed laterally. We have a skills inventory of our organisation, which helps us know our status in terms of specific skills and vocations at any given time point and plan accordingly both for our training and development needs, hiring plans etc. Advance planning helps in dealing with a skill shortage. At times, geographic locations can contribute to skill shortages and that too has to be taken into account while formulating a strategy.
What are you doing to resolve the issue at root level?
The industry is facing a skill shortage on two fronts. One is in the number of people required and the other is in the quality of manpower available or employability. The industry is not happy with the quality of people that the colleges and institutes in general are churning out today. To tackle this, we have a basic training sector at our facility. We have tie-ups with ITIs where we attempt at impart industry- specific training to students; we also give them advanced training at our factory. The training is specific to the industry and is related to the work that they will be doing, based on our experience and knowledge of areas. The training is focused on improving and sharpening skills and proficiency on bench marked levels. The skill gap is seen at different levels. One is in what they should know and the other is how well they should know it. Both these issues need to be addressed.
Is productivity of Chinese workers is better than ours?
I have the experience of working with Chinese, Japanese and Indian workers, and there are few things that we can learn from them. But we must first realise that India has the combined advantage of cost as welll as technical knowledge/engineering skills over these countries and is today a global power to reckon with, in manufacturing. I think that productivity is a much a function of individual attitude, motivation and the environment around the person than only that of skill and technology. In certain Japanese companies, I have seen that the productivity was high despite having fewer/standard productivity norms to comply with. The lesson here is that if the organisational culture is good, it shows in the productivity, too.
In several Chinese companies,(and now in many Indian companies too) every minute of industrial productivity is accounted for. Even the time the worker spends to walk to the cafe during the tea-break is taken into account. The culture of productivity is imbibed in right from the factory design stage.In Japan, and now also in China, productivity inputs and feedback is taken from workers just as much as from officers at higher management levels. The philosophy here is that the man who operates the machines on a daily basis knows better about issues related to productivity. This is another thing that we can learn from them.
Are you happy with current industry-academia collaborations?
Industry- academia interaction is taking place and has improved with time, but yes, I feel that there is still a lot of distance to be covered.I am positive that things are improving and will continue to improve.