Logistics as a sector in India has seen very rapid growth in the past years on the back of infrastructural investments by the Government and the rapid growth of e-commerce. The rise in demand for e-commerce coupled with India’s stance to become a global manufacturing hub has made the supply chain industry and warehousing a landscape in which fast-paced developments are taking place.
The Economic Survey predicts that India’s logistics industry is set to grow from $160 billion to $215 billion in the next two years. The sector is seeing increased government focus, reforms and funding.
Additionally, there is a high adoption of digital technologies and automation of the sector. The coming year will see significant intervention to reduce the cost of logistics which by value accounts for 13% of India’s GDP. When compared with other nations, this is much higher with the US at 9% and Japan at 11%.
In order to drive down costs and build efficiencies in the face of surging demand, 2021 will have to see an increase of skill development across the logistics sector.
Yawning Skill Gap
Logistics is the most competitive business across the globe. In India, it provides employment to 22 million people as reported by the Economic Survey. A large part of this workforce is semi-skilled or with minimal education. Industry players so far have not invested resources sufficiently in skill development initiatives and neither has the government’s focus been adequate.
Experts predict that an efficient workforce could assist in a 10% decrease in indirect costs and help consolidate a fragmented industry.
While growth may be high, it is also a very lean and cost efficient sector. Mistakes are very expensive, having to deliver a parcel twice for which you only get paid once can make the difference between profit and loss.
Trends for 2021
The warehousing market in India is expected to grow from about $12.2 billion currently to $19.5 billion by 2025. E-retailers such as Amazon have stretched their logistics space adding about 200 million sq ft warehousing space pan India recently.
The need for capacity addition has moved the industry’s focus from the eight major metros to make smaller cities into sunrise hubs for the logistics and warehousing sector. Most of these upcoming warehouse clusters are aligned along the developing freight and industrial corridors within the country.
The evident and urgent need for greater efficiency and sophistication in this space will see the industry set up skill augmentation centers. Specialization in the handling and storing for all segments of general, specialty and refrigerated goods will require skill enhancement. The skilling and re-skilling focus needs to include knowledge of
- Equipment handling
- Monitoring automatic stockpiling
- Proper storage
- Cargo safety
- Warehouse Management System (WMS)
- IoT, wearable technologies, drones, robotics, sensors, cloud technology etc
People in metros have access to innovative skill building tools and tech- delivered content, which is not the case for the smaller towns and cities of the country. Even if technology is harnessed to surmount that challenge, language becomes the next barrier to cross. As you go deeper into the heartlands many users don’t speak English which is why more and more edtech companies are delivering their content in native languages. This trend shall see an uptick in the year to come.
A Google KPMG report recently stated that 70% Indians find local language digital content more reliable, 88% were more likely to respond to a digital advertisement in their local language and a whopping 90% of all video consumption happens in local languages.
Skill building platforms will have to leverage technology to reach these users and refine vernacular content, thereby democratizing skill development. We will see more video-based vernacular content in the coming year.
More edtech firms will also lean into the voice search technology. As per the Mobile Marketing Ecosystem Report 2020, Google Assistant says Hindi is already the second-most-used language for voice commands globally.
Tier 2 and 3 markets of India are teeming with potential with rising disposable incomes, 4G and smartphone penetration. As content gets more personalized and customized for these markets, we will see greater adoption of skill building initiatives in the year to come.
Quantifiable Outcomes Will Carry Premium
The problem with most training content is low retention. Organizations that invest time, money, and effort to train their teams want to see them capable of solving real-world challenges and drive efficiency within every day operations. However learning transfer can be complicated. The other challenge is building training content that is on point with the needs of the industry and the specific requirements of the organization.
More edtech solutions will come forward that offer content that is customizable, measurable as well as aligned with the needs of the industry.
Interesting and engaging content delivered through audio/visuals, gamification and simulators has proven to have better outcomes even with semi-educated individuals. The love for gaming, point scoring and competition offers motivation through gratification while the convenience of having content available on-demand increases adherence in users. Trainees also respond better to complex concepts broken into simplified content that drives comprehension.
More team managers will also come forward to participate in building sharp-focused training content for their people. We will also see the developing trend where industries with sizeable requirements for blue and grey collar workers will hire from skilling domains that can skill-match through automated AI technology.
As the supply chain industry continues its strides towards greater maturity and sophistication, the nature of jobs will continue to transform, become more tech-led and require building a culture of significant and continuous up-skilling. We should strive to make 2021 the year of skill development and empowerment to cater to rising demand and build a future ready workforce.