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Building World-Class Talent for Accelerating India’s Growth through GatiShakti

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By: M.K Tiwari

The PM GatiShakti Programme is an ambitious yet timely intervention that is aimed at synchronizing decision making and execution across 16 different ministries in India, to deliver a world-class multi-modal connectivity infrastructure to the nation. While the GatiShakti scheme aims at building world-class modern infrastructure and process streamlining, this would need to be complemented by accelerated skilling in the logistics sector to improve planning effectiveness, achieve high execution speeds and labour productivity levels. Opportunities for skill building have been explored in the last few years and initiatives have been taken up in this direction. For example, The Logistics Skill Council, set up under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship that aims to skill logistics personnel, has identified 11 sub sectors that could benefit from capability programmes ranging from warehousing, transportation and courier services to air cargo handling, e-commerce, EXIM, cold chain logistics, rail logistics, etc.

There are four key areas for skill building in the logistics sector that can complement the vision of the PM GatiShakti Programme.

Firstly, domain knowledge of the industry is critical to understand the needs of the logistics and supply chain activities that it entails. The GatiShakti programme aims at covering the connectivity needs for textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters and agri-zones. Each industry has differing needs when it comes to the requirements for logistics, warehousing, transportation, and supply chain management. For example, containerized cargo is more common in textile exports while bulk cargo is common for steel products and heavy machinery exports. Accordingly, the mode of transport to be chosen would vary and hence, require different procedures and costs. Thus, from a skill set perspective, the logistics personnel would deal with different process designs, technologies, and stakeholders as per sector. The business and process knowledge that comes with the understanding of the trade and movement of goods is also critical for employees that work within or across sectors.

Secondly, there is a strong need for developing digital literacy and increasing technology-adoptionamong logistics personnel across the sub-sectors given that the nation is fast moving onto a platform economy. Track & trace capabilities have become ubiquitous customer requirements in various tiers of the supply chain. There is also a need to regularly read data in various available information systems and then take tactical decisions related to planning and execution by interpreting details of inventory, location, aging/ environmental conditions, order/billing status, etc. Frequently, as is the case in last-mile deliveries and cab services, the use of such data can also be used to train personnel and incentivize desired service outcomes. Further, with the growth of new age technologies such as Control Towers and Block chains, decision-making may become more automated. Faster adoption of tech-driven tools can thus, help onboard potential employees and partners onto the businesses.

Thirdly, data-driven analytics and decision making is necessary for technical and management professionals in the supply chain and logistics sectors. Logistics decisions such as location of facilities, sales planning, manpower planning and routing of vehicles are dynamic planning problems that require the need to crunch vast amounts of data and apply suitable optimization techniques in combination with forecasting and scenario planning that would be driven by AI/ML approaches. The knowledge of business processes coupled with data science is a strong asset that needs to be built in an accelerated manner and can help develop scientifically sound excellence in planning capabilities.

Finally, for streamlined and seamless cargo movement, information-sharing, and strong partnerships are vital to supply chains. The famous ‘Bullwhip effect’ that is resultant of incorrect communication and coordination in supply chains is further testament to the failures caused by system-generated variabilities in an otherwise stable market. In a recent commissioned study of various cargo routes in India, the National Council for Advanced Economic Research has found that integrated service providers such as 3PLs and 4PLs are more competent than stand-alone players at providing cost-efficient cargo movement. Thus, logistics and supply chain personnel need to be trained on effective communication that contains accurate, clear, and timely information for stakeholders within the supply chain and strong negotiation and stakeholder management skills to build effective partnerships across the value chain. This is imperative, considering that the GatiShakti programme also looks at developing a Unified Logistics Infrastructure Portal (ULIP) that connects the various ministries and stakeholders on a common platform for data sharing and information dissemination to reduce decision making in silos.

The logistics sector is known for issues related to low standardization in labour capabilities because of absence in formal training and poor social welfare. While training can create fungible skillsets, there would still be a need to address issues related to social welfare through various means. Hence, it is highly important to ensure that skilling within the sector does not create inequitable job opportunities and result in counter-productive results such as high unemployability. For this reason, it is increasingly necessary that industry, academia, and the government collaboratively devise means to create capability building programmes and initiatives that aim at large-scale skill development at accelerated speeds. For technological and managerial positions, higher educational institutions would need to scale their output of well-qualified candidates with post-graduate and doctoral degrees in business analytics, IT, technology, operations, supply chain and logistics management. It is also important to increase the exposure of students in such institutions to real-life problems through live research projects.  These can be supplemented with mass certificate programmes on modules related to business processes.

The PM GatiShakti Programme is a game-changer and will transform the nation into a world economic superpower. To hasten this transformation, the government, educational institutions, social enterprises, and the industry must collaboratively devise a strong capability building programme to onboard young India onto the new logistics landscape.

The author is Director, National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE) Mumbai

Courtesy Press Information Bureau

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