Workforce requirements are of utmost importance in any industry, with automotive being no exception
The auto industry has been grappling with issues in recent times owing to the protracted slowdown as well as gaps in the availability of appropriately-trained talent. This necessitates the need for a regular supply of industry-ready workforce in the entry-level along with the ability to manage blue-collar employees according to the variations witnessed in the industry. Auto Tech Review met up with Sudeep Kumar Sen, Assistant Vice President, TeamLease Services, to get a perspective about the current talent acquisition situation of entry-level and blue-collar employees.
The focus of automotive companies is in acquiring trained candidates that are ideal for their business as well as in managing their existing workforce by reskilling them to address multiple business requirements. Sen also provides inputs on how the workforce market is bifurcated, when it comes to the automotive sector and how R&D talent requirements are of high importance.
The workforce for entry-level and blue-collar employees in the automotive industry covers numerous areas, right from operators in OEM plants, suppliers’ factories and ancillary industries to those working in services for transportation of people, goods and shared mobility as well as talent required for R&D and design centres that carry out advancements in future automotive and mobility technologies. One industry closely connected to automotive is infrastructure. For example, there is an increased rate of infrastructure development in the country, which in turn, calls for the requirement of more on-road and off-highway vehicles to carry out the work.
Another important area of the automotive industry that has grown significantly and is increasingly hiring specific talent is the pre-owned vehicles business. The exponential growth in the pre-owned vehicles market has also been attributed to the overall slowdown in the economy among other reasons. However, the levels of professionalism and business standards of this segment have also grown strongly and thus paved the way for a well-organised market. The resulting requirements from this sector are for employees, who have good knowledge about the working of an automobile, rather than just an employee with sales and marketing skillsets. Sen said the pre-owned vehicles market deals with used vehicles, and customers in this segment want to know the vehicle condition, in terms of wear and tear. Therefore, a person with technical knowledge of the vehicle is preferred over purely sales executives. These employees are considered evaluators and are high in demand.
ADDRESSING MARKET SLOWDOWN
Learning and skilling are the best remedies for laid-off staff, especially since such talent will be required again when the slowdown period passes, noted Sen. Lay-offs are becoming a regular feature across manufacturing plants owing to widely prevailing production cuts. However, production is less because of the continued slowdown in sales and dealers are grappling with high inventory, noted Sen. This factor is closely related to employee cost and productivity, wherein the cost of employee engagement being controlled without cutting on wages shall have a direct impact on the revenue of a company. This is due to the fact that the human capital cost includes costs of hiring, training, employee engagement and attrition management (rehire and retrain).
Sen observed that the technological investments in the lifecycle of human capital’ is a key solution towards skilling employees. This strategy involves hiring, productivity and also making the existing workforce learn more. Giving employees an opportunity to learn makes them free from being unemployable as well as assisting them in making a career progression on their own, Sen said. There is a need for role-specific interventions, in terms of productivity improvement and attrition management, since higher competence with higher motivation leads to higher productivity.
Increasing the competency levels of employees can be carried out by role-specific, modular, degree-linked, flexible and multilingual training. Further, even if for some specific business reason, productive and skilled labours are laid off, they will soon find an alternative opportunity in the same industry, with such learning and motivation. This is due to the fact that the persistence to perform better will be high in their interactions with potential employers.
Asserting that infrastructure development will help ease the slowdown witnessed in the market, he stressed the need for a co-axial approach, where one needs to keep in mind that the consumption rate has to go up, and this will subsequently increase work and create jobs. The government, corporate enterprises, and financial institutions need to work together towards building a resurgent India by developing Tier II and Tier III towns, and expanding the demography, he noted. In addition, providing higher rebates for creating infrastructure projects out of state capitals will create jobs in rural locations, for which people will need to travel from urban centres. The increased requirement of connectivity will also lead to demand in mobility, be it small locomotives or passenger vehicles.
The level of readily-available and skilled workforce is low in the country, with the identification for trainability becoming highly critical. The government needs to make it mandatory for technologically-sound companies to send out their employees to educational institutions to impart knowledge on real-world working in the industry, he pointed out. This should also be in addition to upgrading college laboratories to enhance students’ curriculum and raise education standards.
TEXT: Naveen Arul