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India’s Manufacturing Industry must integrate behavioral and functional skills to thrive

As the Indian economy starts its journey to achieving fiscal health, the manufacturing sector that contributes to more than 14.5% of the country’s GDP, needs to take a closer look to integrate cognitive, social, behavioral and functional skills to accelerate growth and cater to the changing dynamics of the consumer and market, experts have said.

The sector, which is expected to create 100 million new jobs by next year and reach a value of $1 trillion by 2025, is seeing an increase in demand for social, behavioural and cognitive skills such as crisis management, resilience, interpersonal communication, quick decision making, and critical thinking.

Experts believe that these skills are necessary to generate maximum efficiency from machines being deployed with emerging technologies.   

“There is a much greater need today for the human-machine collaboration, even though automation has happened,” Dr. Pramath Sinha, Founder & Chairman, Harappa, said, while speaking at a session of The Economic Times-Harappa Transformation Series.

 

The congregation, which was the third installment of the larger four-part webinar series spanning across sectors and verticals, is an attempt to highlight the current challenges and opportunities around social, cognitive, and behavioral skilling, by the two organisations.

Dr Sinha explained that industrial advancements such as 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and robotics are causing massive changes on manufacturing shop floors, and this means that the people in the manufacturing system must deal with manufacturing in a fundamentally different way. “There’s a whole new set of skills that are required,” he added.  

Explaining further, he said that while technical skills will change as new technology constantly gets introduced, the fact is that employees need the ability to learn new skills, constantly rescale and upskill.

“The employee should have the ability to change and upgrade themselves with a new operating model. And to do that you need to go back to something very foundational, which we like to call Thrive Skills. And I fundamentally believe that you need to combine both the technical skills and these Thrive Skills to build a complete professional for the future of the manufacturing industry.” 

Seconding him, Manish Sinha, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resource Officer – Mahindra & Mahindra Auto Business, said that these talents are not only vital for a certain level of employees but are necessary for all generations.  

Counting resilience as one of the most important skills required by the manufacturing industry, he added, “We all need to develop the skill of dealing with constant ambiguity and not getting fatigued by that ambiguity. The ability to demonstrate, strategic thinking, and going micro is also important.” 

Talking about the benefits of reskilling and upskilling, Gautam Kumar, Chief Human Resources Officer, SKF India, said that these activities can help businesses outperform the competition.

“All sectors are trying to adopt skill-based talent model and there is a race to reskill talent. This would be both the biggest opportunity for us and a challenge for the next decade. Companies that can upskill their employees with speed and scale will outplace the competition,” he explained.

Focusing on how to make employees more exposed to think out of the box, Raj Narayan, Executive Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Titan Company Limited stated that it is critical to ensure that they see other organizations. “We do a lot of collaborations with other organizations in our industry and outside. The learning is not limited to only your industry. It comes largely from other industries,” he said.

Talking on how the functional training merged with behavioural training can help the employees in their roles, Shashank Rai, National Head HR, Asian Paints PPG, said “A lot of time functional elements and behavioural elements are talked about separately in terms of skilling. That is where the gap lies. These two can’t be looked at differently in an individual’s journey, as they factor each other. So, we try to merge the behavioural part in functional training. This means if one is being trained on technology, that person will also be trained on data analysis, decision-making, and other aspects of their behaviour that they are supposed to be displayed on their roles.” 

Sudipto Mandal, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Star Cement Ltd., emphasized adaptability as a key skill for their company during the current VUCA environment. Because their plants are in remote areas, being adaptable helps them deal with the new circulars issued by the government daily.

In shedding light on the changes brought about by the pandemic, Abhinav Shrivastava, Head of Human Resources, CEAT Specialty Tyres Limited, stated, “Emergencies create the need for temporary solutions, long term disruptions create solutions that eventually become part of the regular practice.” 

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