“For India, employment generation and skill development are the top priorities” reiterated India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi while launching the National Skill Development Mission. Needless to say, this move will be a positive step towards skill development. Today, a large section of India’s labor force carries out tasks with outdated or no skills. Unless the workforce upgrades its skill-sets, there is a risk of getting rendered obsolete in the new-age economy.
Demographic Dividend has in fact become the national agenda; the government now aims to set up new ITIs and skill development centers boosting it as a business opportunity as well. If we look at statistics, the current supply of skilled manpower in India is approximately 3.4 million. There will be a demand of about 500 million skilled workers by 2022. As evident, a wide gap of skilled workers needs to be filled to tackle global and competitive challenges; else reaping the demographic dividend will surely become a challenge.
However, there’s a better side of the story as well. India has a huge population which with all the given challenges, brings forth dual benefits for the nation – one, availability of human resource and two, the same person is also a consumer for any new/ existing product/ service in the market. Therefore, if leveraged properly, India’s increasing population can really unfold the potential of the country’s demographic dividend.
What's stopping us?
To begin with, demographic dividend can contribute to a country’s economic growth only if opportunities that match the economy requirements and new workforce aspirations are generated. In the Indian context, the state of skilled manpower is no secret and largely attributed to the Indian education system. Because of lack of necessary competency building facilities, potential workers are either unemployed or under-employed while industries are being forced to employ untrained and inexperienced young workforce. Sectors such as automobile, construction, retail, healthcare, banking, electronics hardware, media, tourism and IT are few of the sectors that are in immediate need of skilled workers.
How can we leverage this unskilled but available manpower?
Presently the focus of training the unskilled workforce is either vocational or technical. If we focus on widening this scope to sales skilling, we will end up generating a lot of employable workforce. There are various industries (established and upcoming) where generic skills are required to be able to execute a function successfully – and one of the function is the sales function which works horizontally across all industries.After all, it is the sales function of an organization that is responsible for generating revenues for the company – with specific skill sets and domain expertise that can be learnt and imbibed over the existing generic sales skills.
Why sales competency?
Creating sales catalysts and domain experts is possible through on-the-job or skill upgradation training. The following attributes of the unskilled population makes sales a prospective career opportunity and benefits the hiring company as well:
- Localisation not being a challenge, considering the availability of resource pool that is proficient across multiple languages
- Technical or higher educational qualification not being a mandate in 70% of the sales profiles
- Abundance of no-experience resource, who are more adaptable to be trained on sales methodologies
- And of course, the vastness of the product/ service range that is to be sold – cutting across all industries
Once the competency is built, the available resource pool can be divided into categories such as communicators, relationship managers, revenue generators etc. With a focused 3-fold objective of imparting simplified messaging, ensuring consistency of messaging and tracking impact, skilling the manpower is a must-do in order to have an equipped sales force. Through various methodologies including class room training (to educate and drive), on the job training (to learn as they implement), remote training and e-learning (to redirect and refresh), there are no limits on how each of these can be used to have an empowered sales force.
Finally, If due importance is given to building the competency and this resource pool is made available to be part of the sales force of various organizations, we would be able to generate moderately higher contribution to India’s GDP through these sales professionals of tomorrow.
It is a big task undoubtedly, but if we want to capitalize on our demographic dividend and turn our population advantage into an opportunity, it is something that we cannot do without. The demographic dividend may transform India into the world's talent pool if timely effort is made to bridge a widely prevalent skill-gap.