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Upskilling in India: Bridging the Past, Harnessing the Future

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Rahul Mahadeshwar

India, a land of diverse cultures and rich heritage, has always thrived on its ability to adapt and innovate. As the world embraces the digital era and the rapid evolution of technology, upskilling has eamerged as a crucial endeavour to ensure that India’s workforce remains competitive on the global stage. Through a blend of historical insights and a focus on emerging technologies, we explore the journey of upskilling in India, shedding light on the significance of upskilling in the Automotive sector and its pivotal role in shaping the nation’s future workforce.
Throughout history, India has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The country’s ancient educational system, known as the Gurukul system, epitomized personalized learning and knowledge exchange. This historical foundation, rooted in fostering individual talents and skills, has left an indelible mark on the modern concept of upskilling.Fast forward to the colonial era, and India was introduced to industrialization, sparking the need for a skilled workforce in sectors such asmanufacturing. This period marked the beginning of formal vocational training institutes, shaping the future of upskilling. Today, with the advent of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and automation, upskilling remains imperative to maintain a competitive edge in the global market.
As the world hurtles towards a digital future, the emergence of “Industry 4.0” or the fourth Industrial Revolution characterized by the integration of digital technologies, automation, and data exchange in various industries, including manufacturing emerging technologies are at the forefront of driving growth and innovation in the automotive Industry. Smart Manufacturing and Automation, IoT and Connectivity, Data Analytics and Predictive Maintenance, Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Supply Chain Optimization, Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, Customer Experience and Personalization, Environmental Sustainability are reshaping industries and demanding a new skillset. Upskilling in these areas has become essential for the workforce to remain relevant and adaptable. The integration of Industry 4.0 technologies in the automobile industry is leading to increased efficiency, safety, and innovation, while also presenting new challenges related to cybersecurity, data privacy, and workforce skills.
The global automotive landscape is undergoing a profound shift, driven by emerging technologies, autonomous driving, connectivity, and advanced manufacturing processes. According to a report by McKinsey, by 2030, the penetration of EVs could range from 10% to 50% of new vehicle sales, depending on various factors. These technological advancements demand a workforce that possesses the knowledge and skills to navigate this evolving landscape. Upskilling and reskillingis critical to ensure that the workforce remains competitive, versatile, and capable of leveraging new opportunities that arise.
In the context of India, upskilling is not only a means to address the sector’s technical demands but also a catalyst for economic growth. The automobile sector contributes significantly to India’s GDP, employment, and export earnings. As reported by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM), the Indian automobile industry contributes around 7.1% to the country’s GDP and employs over 32 million people directly and indirectly. By investing in upskilling initiatives, the industry can create a pool of skilled professionals who can drive innovation, enhance productivity, and contribute to the country’s economic prosperity.
Schemes such as National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS), Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), Pradhan Mantri Yuva Udyamita Vikas Abhiyan (PM-YUVA) etc areinitiativeof the Government of India aimed at promoting apprenticeship training and skill development among the country’s youth to address the challenges of skill shortages and the need for industry-relevant skills. However, just the creation and promotions of schemes will not suffice to meet the ever growing demand for skilled workforce. A cross function of collaborations between the Government, Industry and the Automotive sector will be necessary to make these schemes beneficial and impactful. The Automotive Industry is a valuable support system for businesses both in the upstream and down stream value chain. Every unit(Vehicle) produced in the industry creates a forward and backward employment chain in various industries and associate industries.
Upstream Industries such as Steel, aluminium, fuel, software, electronics, plastic, rubber etc are directly employed in the manufacturing of vehicle and its components, direct sales and services. The manufacture of vehicles in turn gives rise to industries such as finance and Insurance, used car markets, Fuel supply, warehouse, Transportation and logistics etc.
It is estimated that by the year 2026 there will be 54 million jobs in Industry 4.0 automation and new technology vehicle industry and will be in direct and indirect jobs. With the movement of trends towards the involvement of technology and the towards new concepts such as electric vehicle, the number of unskilled jobs is slated to reduce drastically. Automation and Industry 4.0 require a new skillset which will need to become the vision of the skilling ecosystem. The future will see many current skills becoming obsolete which will either cause the endangering of jobs or the upskilling of current skills to new evolved job requirements.
As India’s workforce navigates the everevolving landscape of skills and knowledge, the importance of upskilling cannot be overstated. The nation’s historical roots in personalized learning and adaptation are now complemented by cuttingedge technologies that demand new skills. Industrydriven upskilling initiatives is the only way to shape the future of a nation’s workforce.\

(The writer is Associate Vice President Automotive Skills Development Council)

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