As the automotive industry the world over deals with the massive disruption caused by the pandemic, vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers in India will also have to urgently work towards bridging the workforce skills gap in many segments.
On the occasion of World Youth Skills Day, Nikunj Sanghi, President of the Automotive Skill Development Council (ASDC), spoke about the skilling challenges faced by the automotive industry and the way forward.
“In today's world of smart manufacturing, AI-connected technologies and even custom operations, the entire automotive supply chain – from OEMs to suppliers to dealers – will need to upgrade its skills to align it with new disruptive forces. The automotive industry is now witnessing the emergence of new business models, smart technologies, and a future of collaborative work and education. There is also a polarisation of jobs with a decline in mid-level, repetitive, and regulated jobs and an increase in demand for creative, design-oriented, high-level skills.
The disruption of digital and automation is leading to a scenario in which employers in the automotive industry will face the challenge of finding employable youth within the next five years or so. The most important imbalances in the labour market, such as unemployment and underemployment, are increasingly linked to the growing mismatch between demand and supply of workers with specific abilities. Therefore, there is an immediate necessity to skill as well as upskill the labour force.
An industry report by ASDC-EY – ‘Human Resource and Skills Requirements in the Automotive Sector (2026)’ – estimates that by 2026, 45.08 million people will be employed in the Indian automotive sector. Of these, around 15 million jobs are expected to be generated by natural growth factors while 20 million will emerge year-on-year employment replacement. To meet future demand, while also being ready for the future, today's automotive workforce must be re-skilled or upgraded. As legacy roles fade, new skills need to be in the areas of IoT, AI, mechatronics, robotics, 3D printing, machine learning, analytics, automotive design, virtual collaboration and computational thinking, to name a few.
Since automotive and digital sales have emerged as global undercurrents, India must bring into line its skilling levels to global standards so as not to miss the bus of the industrial revolution. For this, it must start nurturing talent at a young age, beginning with schools and colleges. Moreover, industry skilling courses should be given the same weightage as academic ones. Skilling courses can be customised keeping Industry 4.0 in mind in the areas of manufacturing and maintenance as well as for the stable evolution towards EVs.
If the above initiatives are assumed on a war footing to bridge the digital skills gaps, sooner or later, India will arise as an automotive manufacturing hub supported by adequate skilled talent across all segments.”
Nikunj Sanghi: ‘ASDC’s ethos is not only skills – it is about developing good-quality manpower.’