Logistics calls for upskilling workforce

The coronavirus outbreak has shown the need for contactless delivery and hence the demand for a skilled workforce in warehousing and logistics space is growing more than ever before. Sanjay Tiwari, Co-Founder, 21CC Education explains how 21CC platform is addressing the need for upskilling and reskilling workforce in the logistics and warehousing industry.

Kalpana Lohumi

What is your comment on the growing need of a skilled workforce in the logistics and warehousing industry?

As Indian logistics and warehousing grows in response to a robust industrial demand, the sector has evolved from mere transportation to include more complex and multi-layered tasks. It is becoming apparent across modes how the dearth of an efficient workforce with cross-functional skills is holding the industry back. As things stand, India aspires to become a global manufacturing hub. Alongside India is the fastest growing e-commerce market, projected to grow at 1200 per cent by 2026 according to IBEF. This evolving business landscape is pushing demand in the sector and making it imperative for the logistics service providers to simultaneously grow in quality and capabilities.

How the coronavirus pandemic created the need for a skilled workforce in the warehousing and logistics space?

The lockdown triggered events that catapulted the logistics sector from the sidelines to the center stage. As physical retail suffered, e-commerce saw increased adoption as more consumers moved online and more companies moved to omni-channel distribution to maintain business continuity.

The sector came through despite an acute shortage of manpower owing to the return of immigrant workers to their hometowns. Challenges notwithstanding, the logistics companies kept the supply chain going, delivering essentials and practically keeping the economy running.

For the warehousing industry too, the rise in e-commerce is revealing a similar effect of fuelling demand. This is because more retailers are feeling the need for warehousing spaces closer to their customers to ensure prompt deliveries.

A few short weeks revealed how unacknowledged and without much fanfare, logistics and warehousing had been functioning as the very backbone of modern-day retail. It comes as no surprise then that the logistics sector also emerged as the top employment-generating sectors in India in the aftermath of the pandemic, according to the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

With the Indian e-commerce market expected to grow to US$ 200 billion by 2026 from US$ 38.5 billion in 2017, logistics needs to brace for the surging demand curve. There is an urgent need for mass hiring in the sector and to ensure those hired are capable and efficient, the industry must invest in skilling, reskilling and upskilling measures.

What is your take on giving the due importance to the logistics and warehousing industry by putting it in a syllabus and creating awareness among the youth?

India does offer transport & logistics courses at degree, postgrad and diploma levels. However, these are mostly available in private institutes. The blue-collar workers coming from small cities or villages don’t get any exposure or knowledge through their education system on the workings of this sector. Interestingly, these are the people who go on to form a major chunk of the workforce in logistics.

As the sector rapidly matures, companies continue to face a shortage of trained logistics and supply chain management professionals at all levels. Considering India’s logistics industry is undergoing a revolution of sorts, institutes, ed-tech startups and government initiatives must offer flexible and effective skill development avenues to prepare a future-ready workforce with not just degrees but real-world skills. The need for educational reform is evident from the findings of a study that revealed that of the close to 55 million people with at least a graduate degree in the labour market, 9 million were estimated to be unemployed.  Clearly, the education system needs an overhaul.

How are you bridging the massive skill deficit and enabling businesses to accelerate their profitability with a future-ready workforce?

Our app-based training modules use tech-enabled experiential techniques to deliver industry-relevant content effectively. Putting the control for learning in the hands of the user through actionable and measurable insights as they progress, the high-engagement methods of gamification and audio-visual content also guarantee higher retention than traditional training methods.  We offer tailor-made, expert-led and flexible solutions to fit the unique needs of the organisations we work with to provide a holistic approach to the skill development needs of any
L&D manager:

  • Making available continual learning
  • Developing scalable training solutions
  • On-demand cost-effective learning platforms
  • Quality and effective curriculums

Our solutions help businesses build a motivated future-ready workforce driving productivity and efficiency while reducing losses incurred owing to accidents and errors.

Please elaborate on a platform that addresses the need of upskilling and reskilling workforce in the logistics and warehousing industry.

The (re)-skilling challenge ahead of us is massive and it is therefore imperative to create a platform that can bring together scalable resources. The jobs for the industry have been described in detail by the NSDC through its sector skill councils and their qualification packs, each detailing up to ten required skills for that job. Companies in this sector have multiple locations at which they are looking for people, hundreds and sometimes thousands spread across tens of job roles.

The best and perhaps only way to meet the demand of hundreds of employers for thousands of employees across tens of locations and covering hundreds of specific skills is by creating a platform, and that is what 21CC Education has done. The jobs and qualification packs and required skills link to 21CC’s extensive digital library of e-learning modules, allowing us to tell an employer when a prospective employee has acquired a specific skill.