Article: Candidates lack basic skills: A. Sudhakar


Candidates lack basic skills: A. Sudhakar

A. Sudhakar, Senior Executive Director - HR, Dabur India

Given the nature of our business, we hire in large numbers for sales and distribution where we hire close to 400 employees every year. The fundamental problem is that the numbers are far too many as compared to the availability of such people in the marketplace. And once you start meeting the people, the ratio of those who qualify is one to ten. While the number of applications is large, the screening and short-listing process often lands us with probably three candidates and then only one might be selected. Fundamentally, the employability of these people is a big question mark.

The problem is firstly due to the absence of clarity on the part of these candidates on what they want to do or what they seek from their job. Secondly, while we are not asking for more than basic ground level skills, most candidates fail to deliver even that. In our business, most of the processes and activities are system-based and we require our employees to understand fundamentals of the sales and distribution process. Therefore, the skills that we look for are basic mathematics and computer skills, but we are not able to find those easily. Most of the candidates fail to cross the first hurdle of our simple tests.

When looking for talent at the entry level, we hire a lot through references. Being a ‘sales and marketing’ driven organization, our own people are active in the market, which acts as a very big recruitment source for us. Especially for people at the entry level, we prefer to involve consultants as less as possible. Almost 40 percent of our recruitment is done through references. We also have an internal referral program called SEARCH where we pay employees for good references and about 10% of our recruitment takes place through this channel.

Since most of these people hired at the entry level do not come equipped with the required business skills, we do invest in making them productive on the job. We run a program, called FIRST (Field Staff Induction Reference and Sales Training), which is a two week program to orient employees towards the organization, its sales policies and procedures, sales IT infrastructure and skills that they must acquire to perform well in their roles. And lastly, we have prepared certain audio visual modules, which enable us to scale these training initiatives across the various locations where our field staff operates.

While our intake is about 400 annually, we face an attrition of approximately 20 percent. Therefore, we need to run the refresher programs on a regular basis, which is easily possible with the use of these audio visual training modules. Further, we also use this channel to train our external partners who distribute our products, but not necessarily employed by Dabur.

We also partner with ITIs for our manufacturing facilities. A bulk of these units are located in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh where we partner with the local ITIs there to provide people with the skills specific to our manufacturing needs. For example, in the last financial year 2011-12, we had hired 50 ITIs in Himachal Pradesh alone and we plan to hire another 50 ITIs in Uttarakhand in 2012-13. These candidates go through a structured apprentice program in ITI, and they join us as ITI trainees in manufacturing. However, for the field staff, we do not have any arrangement with any institution.

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Topics: Skilling, C-Suite, Talent Acquisition

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