It is an evident fact that India is facing huge skill gaps due to low employability. There is an enormous gap between the skills required in the industry and those provided by the education system. With the rapid proliferation of technology and as India’s industries grow; this gap needs to be bridged for us to remain competitive in the world market.
Skills and knowledge are one of the key drivers of economic growth and social development for any country. As India positions itself to achieve strong economic growth, availability of a highly-skilled workforce that can help organizations, across sectors, maintain their competitive capabilities will be key. This is particularly essential in technology-intensive sectors such as Aerospace & Defence (A&D), which is a lead adopter of technology in the design and manufacture of products and provision of services.
Over the last few years, India’s A&D sector has been growing steadily -USD 10 billion in 2016 and is predicted to grow at an estimated CAGR of over 5% from 2017 to 2024, owing to multiple steps taken by the government as well as the industry. As the sector progresses with an exciting outlook ahead, it will need a steady pipeline of highly-skilled talent to support this growth. Bridging the skill gap will help increase the future competitiveness of the A&D sector and help India achieve its vision for long-term growth
The Skill Gap
Globally, there is a fundamental shift happening in the evolving A&D sector, resulting in new needs for relevant and practical skills that were previously non-existent. The sector is moving fast to develop and deploy advanced manufacturing technologies such as additive
manufacturing and robotics. It is increasingly leveraging big data and analytics to perform predictive and prescriptive maintenance and create new value-added services for the customers. Going forward, a highly-skilled workforce that can work with the advanced technologies to enable companies to carry out critical research and development (R&D) and bring out innovative products and after market services to the market will be the need of the hour.
Firstly, a background in mechanical/ electrical/electronic engineering or mechatronics is only the beginning. To enhance practical problem solving, the focus should be on widening the limited domain knowledge as well as enhancing the so! skills. Engineering talent also needs to be trained on the global skills that will make them receptive to international standards of safety and quality. Secondly, as the job functions are becoming more specialized, earning certifications is a viable solution for educated workers to hone their existing knowledge. At present, only selected Indian universities offer courses tailor-made for the A&D sector.
Bridging the Skill Gap: It is imperative for the workforce to bridge the skill gap and remain employable by continually developing new skills to keep up with emerging technologies and opportunities. Here are a few combinations of short and long-term strategies that A&D companies can do to build employability:
- A defined career path: A clear understanding of the career path is crucial for attracting talent in developing a career in the A&D sector. Companies can start working with high schools to attract young talent and also look at recruiting women who often constitute a large untapped demographic. Additionally, a clear career progression road map helps retain an experienced technical specialist in the industry.
- Evolving technology: Technology such as additive manufacturing, advanced robotics and automation, big data and analytics are merging continuously. The training must keep pace with these advancements.
- In-house training: Considering the precision of skills required in the A&D sector, having rigorous training across the entire value chain to ensure that employees are quickly absorbing the new technologies, commercial advancements as well as regulatory changes, is important. Globally, Rolls-Royce invests millions of pounds every year in learning and development to raise the standards of competitive performance; develop business management and leadership skills; promote innovation; help people realise their potential; and contribute to increased customer satisfaction.
“While India’s talent availability – more than 3,500 engineering colleges producing about 1.5 million engineering graduates annually – is unmatched by any other country around the world, an issue that arises is the lack of employability, companies have to invest significantly to make fresh talent “employable” with the right kind of skills and training.”
- Government: The government can play an active role by building a framework to recognise industry members who actively develop and implement technical career progression through continuous learning programmes is crucial. This will encourage industry players to invest in training and time to develop talent
- Re-imagining the education system: We need a strong affiliation between the industry and the academia for developing job-relevant curriculum and for providing gainful apprentice opportunities. Such an affiliation will ensure that the students have the right amount of exposure and training for the most relevant skills and abilities required in a job-scenario.
Not only for sector’s competitiveness, but also for a country to be globally competitive, a highly-skilled workforce is considered to be the most important capability.