Captain TS Ramanujam, CEO, Logistics Sector Skill Council, speaks on his mission to train and prepare youth for transnational job roles in the logistics industry.
Tell us a little about the Logistics Sector Skill Council.
The Logistics Sector Skill Council is unique in its own way. Logistics is an activity that pervades all industry, either in the form of pure-play logistics (ports, infrastructure, freight forwarding, air cargo, transportation) or in-plant logistics. For instance, in any auto plant, 60-70 per cent of the labour is contracted and primarily involved in logistics functions. So, logistics is required for both pure-play and for in-plant functions. Now, the LSC has a governing council created with captains of industry from the multiple sub-sectors that logistics covers. We cover nine sub-sectors covered thus far (ports/ terminals, ICD, CFS, air cargo (land-side operations), courier and the most happening sub-sector right now, e-commerce where the maximum employment today occurs.
What are the requirements in logistics and how many people are getting trained?
With the Goods and Services Tax (GST) likely to come in, you will find consolidation of warehouses where there will be much more requirement for people in warehouses. The Ministry of Skill Development has a target of training 10 million people in the next three years. That translates into roughly about 30 lakh per year. Of this, I think the logistics sector would be training about two or two and a half lakh people every year.
Is that adequate for the industry´s needs? How many trained people do you require?
Well, about 90 per cent of the logistics sector falls into the unorganised category. Unlike in organised sectors where you can estimate your manpower requirements pretty exactly, this is difficult to do in logistics. I can only say that there is a huge shortage today, for instance, for Heavy Motor Vehicle (HMV) drivers because with the entry of Ola and Uber, there was a huge shift among HMV drivers towards owning and driving their own vehicles instead of travelling for days on the road. Overall, it is difficult to say exactly how much manpower is required, but my guess is it will be huge.
In emerging areas like e-commerce, the requirement will be totally based on how much e-commerce can penetrate into the market. What I´d like to highlight, though, is that logistics is one sector where there is a phenomenal amount of entrepreneurial activity. I see this across functions such as packaging, transportation, last-mile delivery and other areas of activity in logistics.
What is your plan for training programmes, certification and making people industry-ready?
There are three sides to this. One is the training for maritime logistics. Second, the processes we will make to set this rolling and the third is to know how the training will be imparted. To take the last part first, the mandate of the LSC is to create the qualification pack and the occupational standards.
This is arrived at after carrying out a functional analysis and occupational mapping of the sub-sector and based on which we get to know the demand on the job. Once we know this, we evaluate what is the knowledge, skills and attitude needed to perform those kinds of job roles. So, we know exactly where the demand lies for the industry specific sub-sector and what would be the knowledge, skills and attitude required based on which the curriculum and content can be developed. This is how the training will be done.
We have now started doing this for the maritime sector for the entry-level job roles. Second, we are now trying to get the private sector on board, which is going to be the employer of these candidates, and we have found the companies to be extremely keen. This is because in the logistics sector, there has been no formal training whatsoever till date. This is the first structured attempt that is being made to have trained manpower from the entry level upward and possibly a progressive career path.
The Ministry of Skill Development and the Ministry of Shipping have directed to utilise the training capacity of the public sector enterprises, whether in terms of capital or the assets they have. With private industry participation (both knowledge and skills and possibly equipment), we could arrive at a training curriculum with a certificate given by the Logistics Sector Skill Council, whereby the industry would have manpower trained for the job and employable from the first day after completion of training.
Who will provide the training?
One needs to have domain experience for this. One of the strengths in the maritime sector is the various associations and between them, they have the required knowledge domains. In fact, they have been doing it in some form or the other already. This was certified by a local university or educational institution. However, we need to revamp all this with a view to a job-role oriented training which LSC is undertaking. Towards this, we will have the associations with us and for instance, in the south, CII has a very good network with the local industry where the supply chain is created for exim cargo. Therefore, we can bring them on board, and with all these associations, we could have a kind of an empowered body which would run these institutes. The idea is to create multi-skill development centres which would also train the trainers in certain specific centres of excellence. This will make the whole exercise sustainable in the long term with the government and the various industry associations all working towards a common goal. LSC would provide the certification in order to have ready and trained candidates for the maritime logistics sector.