In a post-Covid-19 world, it cannot be yesterday once more. As the beleaguered automotive industry comes to grips with the growing losses created by the countrywide lockdown and the need to restart operations in a new dynamic of social distancing, skilling is going to be one of the growth drivers in the immediate future and beyond.
Speaking at Autocar Professional's Labour Day Webinar, veteran automotive dealer and President, Automotive Skills Development Council (ASDC), begin his presentation with an interesting thought on why we cannot celebrate May 1 as Workers Day or Skilling Day, and not Labour Day, which is simply giving the much-deserved respect to the profession. He said that the sheer global impact that Covid-19 has had was unimaginable and looks straight out of a sci-fi movie.
Sanghi was part of the five-member panel group for the first webinar of May 2020 which also comprised Vijay Kalra, Head, Mahindra Institute of Quality and Ex-Chief of Manufacturing Operations- Automotive Division, Mahindra & Mahindra; Ramashankar Pandey, Managing Director, Hella India Lighting; Rohan Rathod, Managing Director, Delux Bearings; and Ashim Sharma, Partner & Group Head - Business Performance Improvement (Auto, Engineering & Logistics), Nomura Research Institute.
Talking about the requirements of the workforce in the new world, Sanghi said: “Existing skills will require a lot of redefinition; skilling would play a major role when you step into the new world. There will be new norms of behaviour and social distancing. One thing for sure that we need to do will redefine the way people work, we used to focus on specialisation, training one person on the last zee, now the same individual will need to be reskilled, because of the social distancing, and limit on the number of people working on a shopfloor.” He believes that each individual will now have to be multi-skilled and not just do his/her work, but also colleagues.
The industry veteran says that while face-to-face interactions will become fewer, a positive development will happen on to the ones at the bottom of the pyramid. Digitalisation will filter in there, which will require reskilling to use the tools of the trade. This probably wouldn’t have happened if Covid-19 hadn’t disrupted the norm.
Digital-first approach for auto dealerships
Social distancing will bring dynamic change to the dealership business, said Sanghi. No longer will customers feel comfortable walking into showrooms. Now, the reverse will happen and OEMs and dealers will have to reach out to customers even more. And going digital will help them do just that.
Sales channels, dealers and OEMs per se will have to increase the transparency level dramatically. That's because customers will now prefer to engage with them virtually which in turn means there has to be digitally. Sanghi said that experiences like test drives of new cars, which has been a very popular method of selling a passenger vehicle, will be a much-less-used tool for sales. Likewise, physical inspection of vehicles undergoing maintenance will take a backseat and the OEM/dealer will have to convey images to customers about the work being done, either in real-time or in some other manner.
Sanghi said that the pandemic has brought forth the concept of Work From Home to enable social distancing, which earlier would never have been thought would be possible for a vast majority of the jobs. “You will need to train them (workforce) on how to use digital tools, and train the entire ecosystem to monitor the efficiency. The need for top-notch cybersecurity is vital; one has to be absolutely sure that the data is secured and not misused. Data integrity needs to be 100 percent. Organisations will need to upskill existing staff to be digital and tech-savy. All the while, the focus has to be on the data which is supposed to be the oil of the economy, that is secured and owned by the owner, and not someone else,” said Sanghi.
Coming to the servicing part, Sanghi believes that technicians will need to be trained on ensuring safety measures like sanitising of vehicles and contactless delivery to ensure complete peace-of-mind as well as health safety of people involved.
Commenting on how ASDC is preparing for the new norm, he said that the organisation has already started working on developing new learning modules. He believes that “Online learning and training will become more important, manufacturing, sales, and aftersales. Around 90-95% of training will happen online.”
Nomura Research Institute's Ashim Sharma: 'Expect continual disruptions across the automotive supply chain.
Mahindra Institute of Quality's Vijay Kalra: 'We need to celebrate and value people skills more now.'
Hella India Lighting's Ramashankar Pandey: 'States must compete not on investment but on employment.'
Delux Bearings' Rohan Rathod: 'Adopt lean management tools to be future-ready.'