Skilling has become a dynamic space over the last two years, with the industry gaining momentum as the pandemic interrupted life as we knew it. All the pondering about the efficacy of online learning, eLearning and mLearning were set aside, first gradually and then irreversibly, validating the role, reach and retention abilities of these methods. Such was the shift that hybrid learning models are set to replace the traditional offline, in-person and classroom training methods forever.
Organisations that rely heavily on the blue collar workforce find it difficult to find skilled employees capable of keeping up with the ever-evolving new-age workplace. The demand for skilled manpower is seeing a steady rise especially in telecom, logistics, apparels and retail. At last count, as per the listings on the Atma Nirbhar Expert Worker Employer Mapping (ASEEM) portal, there are as many as 1.3 million blue-collar jobs to fill in India, but is India’s blue-collar workforce ready?
How to make India’s workforce ready
Currently only 49.2 per cent of India’s labour force is digitally skilled. In the meantime, the skill gap continues to get compounded by tech disruption. The World Economic Forum (WEF) in a recent report said the rise of machines and automation would eliminate 85 million jobs by 2025. Of the 97 million new jobs it expects to be created, WEF stressed the need for “reskilling” and “upskilling” measures from employers and governments alike to bridge the resultant skill gap.
Developing effective training solutions for the blue-collar workforce requires taking into consideration the behaviours, stressors and motivators that are unique to this category of workers. Blue-collar workers respond differently to praise and competition than their white-collar colleagues. Globally the blue collar workforce is largely low-income, with limited education and skills. They tend to compare themselves more to professions that they consider to be of lower and higher status than their own.
Tech-based solutions by startups that use gamification are coming to the rescue, intelligently addressing the unique challenges of this segment. Gamification—which introduces game design elements into the context of non-game scenarios—has the quality to change behaviour and create habits in a non-competitive environment. It has the ability to:
- Give feedback and measure progress in real-time
- Teach in an engaging and entertaining manner
- Keep the players’ unique motivators in mind
- Enable the experience of a gameful state
- Break down complex concepts into bite-sized content
- Make learning fun and immersive. virtual-reality setting
- Why gamification works for blue-collar skilling
We naturally love setting goals and playing games, striving to beat our own ‘personal bests’. Leader boards and multi-player games also satisfy the need for us to be socially connected, making us feel like part of a community. The adaptive AI and virtual reality simulators trigger emotions that further drive engagement. As these mobile-first games become increasingly sophisticated and immersive, they help users to escape from reality anytime, anywhere. Imaginative startups are using these qualities of gamification for skill development, making dense and complicated concepts fun. Especially in India, which is a vast and diverse nation, mLearning solutions are customisable and scalable to meet the specific needs of the audience being addressed.
The many reasons why gamification is the new buzz word are:
- Drives retention: Gamification involves active learning which drives retention. Scenario-based tests and leader boards stimulate competition and an excitement towards learning. Gaming elements and virtual reality simulators put these employees in a fail-safe zone to understand consequences in a real-world scenario. Employees can explore decision-making and risk-taking with confidence and without the fear of making mistakes.
- Incentivization Strategy: A survey by TalentLMS revealed that 87% employees feel gamification makes them more productive, 84% feel it makes them more engaged while 82% reported feeling happier at work. Gamification is widely being used by organizations to incentivize the workforce and drive business productivity and efficiency. Especially where tasks are repetitive and labor intensive in nature, gamifying tasks and rewarding the completion of milestones keeps efficiency from slipping.
- Is available on demand: Despite the promise of better retention, not all information can be committed to memory. And with a job that involves remaining on their feet all day long, the front line workers cannot spend hours searching for documented information on the right processes and workflows to follow when a challenging situation arises. Screen-based, mLearning training content makes it possible for these employees to access the answers, and move between a range of possible scenarios quickly to find solutions.
- Addresses monotony: Businesses rely on these workers to fulfil some steady and recurring tasks. The monotonous fulfilment of such repetitive tasks can slacken at times and eventually lose motivation.
This process is known to be quite repetitive and labour intensive. It is easy to lack motivation for skill development when a new process or technology is injected into the workplace. Gamification is a great way to drive engagement and ensure productivity. Employers can use gamified content to encourage participation and reward the completion of milestones.
A shortage of skilled blue collar workers stands in the way of fast growth, which is a priority for every business. Businesses that invest in gamified training solutions, will find that they have an edge over others. The ability to successfully skill, upskill and reskill will keep them productive, profitable and ahead of the curve.