Architecting the ecosystem for skilling
There are three profiles that we hire at M&M – one is workmen who work at the shop floor, second is engineers who would be involved in design and manufacturing work and third are those who work with suppliers and the sales team. To hire OEMs is not a big problem, but we are concerned with the quality of people coming out, because our hit ratio is very high and if I interview 20 people, I end up hiring one or two. Therefore, the quality of people passing out is a matter of concern. So, our education system, our curriculum and the way we train people for the industry really requires a lot of revamping. Knowing the scenario, we have proactively put a lot of things in place. For this we visit all engineering colleges to create a brand on campus called AQ (Auto Quotient), which promotes Mahindra as a brand where people who are auto passionate can really create a career for themselves. There is a war room that we run in the B schools, which is primarily to build our brand and provide opportunities to students to interact with the senior management and work on a topic, which is contemporary to business. Since we have proactively worked towards building the brand M&M in campuses, we as an organization do not face a lot of problems at the entry level. However, our partners, who are either suppliers or dealers, face a real problem as they are not able to attract the same quality talent as us.
Various studies have shown that by 2022, the automobile industry will require 25-35 million skilled people. Therefore, M&M has created a body called SIAM (Society for Indian Automotive Manufacturers), which has proactively created a body of HR professionals called the SIAM Human Capital Group that I chair, and we proactively work with the NSDC to form the Automotive Skills Development Council, which is a pioneer SSCs initiated by NSDC. We have a Chief Executive team for that and a governing council, which consists of representatives from employers, SIAM Human Capital Group and the government. The purpose of this body is to create training delivery centers in 35 companies, and partner to create training curriculum, which institutes can use to develop skilled people who are employable in the industry. So, this is a development center for the industry, developed with the help of the industry, and managed collaboratively by the industry, its stakeholders and the government.
This model aims to help in developing skills in around 25-30 million people over a period of 5 to 7 years. So, we have to create the ecosystem and the architecture. Today, the body is in the process of developing a curriculum for the various subjects required, creating the framework for skilling centers to operate, and creating a framework for certification. This program will create the ecosystem and architecture for skill development for the auto industry in India.
While this is due to be launched in the next 2 years, in the interim period, what M&M and others like Maruti Suzuki India, Toyota, Hyundai, etc. are doing is adopting and partnering with ITIs. We have adopted two large ITIs and we have contact centers in about 15-20 ITIs, where we train people on the latest developments in the auto industry through a structured intervention. We also engage with finishing schools, so that as an employer, we strive to build skills not only for our organization, but also for the intermediaries in the industry as a whole. We also support the government in their skilling initiatives.
When we hire people at the entry level, they go through a training period of 6 months before they are productive on the job. We have a rigorous selection process and then the selected people go through the RISE philosophy, which is an internal change management program at M&M. This philosophy focuses on getting people who challenge the present, think alternatively and drive positive change in the lives of stakeholders. We look for people who have these skills. We also have an on-boarding process, which helps them to get inducted on the Mahindra business philosophy and this is followed by the specific interventions that are required at the specific functional level. The rigorous and proactive intervention helps in on-boarding people quickly onto the M&M way and makes them productive.
With respect to India’s plan to work towards skilling 500 million by 2022, the government is quite proactive, but the complexity lies in how will the bureaucracy be aligned and how will they ensure scale of execution. The thought process is right, the approach is very proactive, but we have to wait and see how the execution will take place. One critical aspect is that there is a need for skill mobility. India is growing and if there is skill mobility, we should not be concerned, because there will enough employment opportunity as India is growing. The industry should not be concerned with the temporary dip in economy. If there is a downside, there will also be an upside. And if we do not prepare for the growth, then we will be faced with a skill gap in the future. Therefore, the skilling agenda requires a cautious optimism, so the efforts to bridge continue through projecting skills, training for skills and deploying skills.