The role of technology in training for Indian manufacturing industry

The role of technology in training for Indian manufacturing industry

Category : eLearning , Microlearning

The Indian Manufacturing sector is estimated to have grown at a Compound Annual Growth rate (CAGR) 4.34 percent between FY12 and FY18. With the launch of the ‘Make in India’ initiative by the Government of India, the manufacturing sector is gradually emerging as one of the high growth sectors in the country.

Going by the plans for this segment, India is expected to become the fifth largest manufacturing country in the world by the end of 2020. As a part of this initiative, the Government also aims to increase the share of the manufacturing industry to the GDP to 25% by 2022 and create approximately 100 million jobs. The Labour Bureau’s Quarterly Report on Employment Scenario shows that this sector added an estimated 89,000 jobs in the second quarter of 2017-18. Given the changing landscape, India is on the road to becoming an attractive manufacturing destination and a hub for foreign investments.

The technology impact in manufacturing

It is great to see the upward trajectory that the manufacturing industry has taken. However, as the industry itself is caught amidst the winds of change. Large-scale automation and technology implementations are changing this sector completely. In order to increase efficiencies, eliminate waste, improve the productivity of processes and the employees, and increase cost efficiencies for profitability, this sector is heralding the age of Industry 4.0. Industry 4.0 employs the use of advanced technologies such as IoT, cloud, big data and analytics, robotics, AI, and Machine Learning amongst others to reach these desired outcomes. To meet the goals designed for the manufacturing sector, the industry thus has to not only focus on its technology investments but also focus heavily on its human investments.

Clearly, with so much change, training had to climb up the priority list for manufacturers address the skills gap and also change perceptions regarding the blue collar work so prevalent in this industry.

Labor shortage or skilled labor shortage – which way does the cookie crumble?

A skilled labor shortage is one of the greatest challenges that the Indian manufacturing sector has to scale. Tom Captain global aerospace and defense industry leader at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu says, “India doesn’t have a labor shortage – it has a skilled labor shortage.” In the Indian context, most of the blue collar workers in this segment have lower education levels. The lack of specialized courses in the Indian education system also means that companies have to train their own people. Additionally, the quality of engineering graduates is also often not considered A Grade. The onus of training, therefore, falls on the manufacturing companies themselves.

As Indian manufacturing witnesses a mismatch between the skills that they have versus the skills that they need, this industry has to leverage technology to aid learning. The present mode of training and learning and development initiatives has been that of the classroom style. With a large number of recruits joining the workforce every year, this style of training becomes hard to execute, is expensive, and has a heavy cost and resource impact. Manufacturers additionally have to manage the logistics when it comes to training employees in geographically distant locations. Training, which is an essential activity, suddenly becomes tedious and complicated.

It’s technology to the rescue

In the age where technology is eating the world, manufacturing has to look at technology in training as well.

  • Just as all the manufacturing processes are getting improved with technology, training too can improve a great deal. Leveraging technology in training by using technology elements such as video, gamification etc. that fit in beautifully in the eLearning model, manufacturing companies can give their training methodologies a much-needed facelift.
  • Technology-aided learning can be leveraged greatly to build virtual worlds where the employees can learn skills in a safe environment. AR and VR simulations, gamification etc. are great elements that can be used to help employees learn the cause of the effect of different operations and help in better knowledge retention without a safety compromise.
  • Technology also helps with personalization. When everything in our world is getting personalized why should training and development initiatives be any different? In the age of the mobile, online learning gives training teams access online content anywhere, anytime. Knowledge is also disseminated in bite-sized, easily consumable chunks that ensures better knowledge retention. Microlearning is serving as the most effective method to deliver trainings on subjects like standard operating procedures and even conceptual stuff.
  • Technology also makes sure that these training programs can be further customized to meet the learning styles of the user. Progress is monitored easily, feedback is proactive and hence knowledge gain is better.
  • Training departments also need to consider the mature age workers who are just about learning to adapt to the evolution of manufacturing. Many of these mature workers have low literacy levels. Training them on new processes using dreary text or long classroom sessions is often counterproductive. Leveraging eLearning, training departments can create courses that are task-related and visually attractive. By replacing text heavy training with this visual form of training, manufacturers enable better knowledge gain and absorption by reducing the cognitive load of this demographic. eLearning also helps the mature workers become more receptive to learning as they are more likely to ask questions in a virtual forum than in a classroom setting.
  • One of the most important aspects of training using technology is the kind of reach that manufacturers can get. Manufacturing employs a large workforce and often, a large number of these employees are in different locations and/or plants. It can be a logistical nightmare organizing training programs together for such a large and distributed workforce. Using eLearning and mLearning, manufacturers can easily navigate this logistical minefield and ensure that all the members of the workforce receive comprehensive and yet timely training.

The manufacturing industry has an extremely diverse workforce. You have blue collared workers and white-collar workers working in peaceful coexistence. However, with changing times, and with the new age of manufacturing, this industry needs to mitigate the challenge of skilled talent fast. Only then, this industry can live up to the demands of new innovations and advancements – and the kind of scaling that training needs to do can only be achieved leveraging technology.