By Sumit Kumar
The auto sector is one of the key contributors to the Indian economy. The Indian auto sector’s contribution to the country’s overall GDP is 7.1 per cent and 49 per cent to the manufacturing GDP. The sector has an annual turnover of Rs 7.5 lakh crores and export of Rs 3.5 lakh crores. It is also one of the largest employing sectors in the country. The auto sector is gearing up for a fresh hiring spree that will prepare a future workforce for the industry.
The automotive sector is witnessing long-awaited groundbreaking digital innovations, thanks to the technologies driving Industry 4.0, demand for clean energy, shift in consumer demands & changing social trends. This has created a demand for the workforce that understands telematics, sensors, actuators, complex algorithms, machine learning, AI, IoT, Blockchain, digitization, data analytics, vehicle connectivity, autonomous drive train design, etc., but the issue is on the supply side of it.
The Indian automobile industry which employs over 19 million people across all verticals contributes to around 7.1 per cent of India’s GDP has the potential to absorb youth in big numbers. India produces a sizable number of fresh graduates every year but less than half of those are employable (45.9 per cent) as per India Skills Report (ISR) released in 2021, and this is a huge concern for all industries, and the Indian automotive industry is not an exception to the rule.
The biggest challenge of the automotive sector currently is the skill gap, which is entailed by problems like mobilization of candidates for skills training, lack of properly trained trainers, old curriculum followed by most universities, fewer apprenticeship opportunities to create a steady talent pool, lack of job-ready skills among the freshers, and industry’s reluctance to revise wages for the up-skilled workforce.
One of the best ways to create an employable workforce that can meet the technological and skill requirements of the automotive, component manufacturing, & ancillary industries is by creating a curriculum that links theoretical education, practical learning, skilling, and on-job-training together in the form of a degree-embedded program that is specifically curated for the automotive industry.
Specifically designed degree-embedded apprenticeship programs are the way forward to solve the skill and employability gap for the automotive sector by creating a productive and scalable talent supply chain, a system which is being successfully practised in countries like Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany and the United States, and is being increasingly welcomed by corporates in India as well.
Degree-embedded Apprenticeships involve hiring undergraduates, graduates, ITI or diploma pass outs and making them undergo (6-36 months) of on-the-job training along with classroom learning, which not only helps youth build a successful career, get a degree, job experience, but also earn while they learn & support their families. It’s a win for employers as well since they are able to create job-ready talent as per their industry needs, save on recruitment & rehiring costs (due to low attrition rate), and also contribute towards solving India’s unemployment problem.
NETAP, National Employability through Apprenticeship Program is India’s fastest growing blended apprenticeship training program which aims to help organizations develop a qualified, robust and sustainable workforce and a productive human supply chain. If we analyze the Apprenticeship Outlook Report published by NETAP over the last 3 years, there is a clear increase in the intent to hire apprentices among the Indian automobile sector.
The key profiles for hiring are Apprentice Automobile Engineer, Mechanic, Automobile technician, & Automobile engineer. Automobile and ancillaries featured among the topmost sectors where 42 per cent of the employers were willing to hire apprentices in H2 (July-Dec) 2019. The Pandemic outbreak dampened the hiring intent to 36 per cent during H2 2020 from a staggering 70 per cent in H1 (Jan-June 2020), but, it again started showing a positive outlook in 2021 as India was better prepared for the second wave with 51 per cent hiring intent during Jan-June 2021, which increased to 58 per cent for July-Dec 2021.
Apprenticeships can play a significant role in mitigating the skill gap and improving India’s employability ratio, but there is a need to change the current apprenticeship ecosystem in India. There is a need to make vocational training aspirational to mobilize candidates for skills training and apprenticeships. Degree embedded apprenticeship programs facilitate earning while learning making it aspirational for the youth.
All parties (government, universities, employers) must come together to make youth aware of the job opportunities they might land into after completing their training/apprenticeship/degree-linked apprenticeship. There is a need to change people’s perception and outlook towards apprenticeships and training by showing them the career trajectory from skill enhancement to entrepreneurship.
The standard curriculums are not frequently updated to keep up with the technology trends of the evolving auto industry, therefore there is a need to create customized curriculums and train people in these areas to create a skilled & job-ready workforce. In order to create a competent workforce, there is also an urgent need for training trainers in these emerging technologies. Additionally, there is a need to encourage and motivate employers to come forward and consider apprenticeships or degree embedded training programs as an alternative to hiring and employee retention strategy that pays long-term dividends.
It entails Government, UGC, Sector skill councils, universities, & employers to come together and take appropriate skilling and reskilling measures to upgrade the skill sets of the youth and align it with the new disruptive forces across different industries so that today’s manpower doesn’t fall prey to job polarization.
(Sumit Kumar is Vice President NETAP at TeamLease Skill University.)
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Autofintechs.com. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)