Upskilling the Logistics Sector

March 5, 2021 Nidhi Sharma

Current Scenario in the Logistics Sector

Logistics is one such sector that has flourished in the past years. According to a report by Welspun One Logistics Parks, this industry will grow at 35% in 2021 because of the transition of market activities from retail to online and large inventory levels by e-commerce players.1It employs over 22 million people2, and the number is expected to rise as consumers’ preferences change due to increased percolation of e-commerce, and advancement in digital technologies.

The prominence of technology has never been felt more strongly than today in the Logistics sector. Smart technologies are being employed to manage the efficiency, responsiveness, and timeliness of on-ground operations. This shift towards automation and digitization has not only increased the business but also the demand for more skilled employees.

Some giants of the sector like Mahindra Logistics, Amazon, and Flipkart are already upskilling their blue-collar and grey-collar workforce as per the present needs, while some are still struggling to cope with the initial phase of training due to the unprecedented surge in digitization.

Upskilling vs Reskilling

Reskilling and upskilling are the two strategies that can be used to combat the skill shortage.
Reskilling refers to when the employees are retrained so that the company can put their talent to use elsewhere, like in a different job profile. However, in upskilling, the employees are trained to meet the changing demands of the same job role. Let us understand this more with an example - A driver can be reskilled to be a consignment tracking personnel, while the same person can be upskilled to drive an automated vehicle. Table 1- 2 provides some examples of reskilling and upskilling in the Logistics sector.

Current Job Role

Upskilling Idea

Delivery Boys

Scanning, sorting of items to ensure
contactless and OTP-based deliveries

Packers and Pickers

Managing digital Printing operations

Supervisors, Analysts, and Managers

Operating the digital supply chain and big data
(for evaluating customers’ profiles)

Table 1: Examples of Upskilling in Logistic Sector

Current Job Role

Reskilling Idea

Packers and Sorters

Planning and Expediting clerks
or Quality Control Analysts.

Assembly Line workers

Packers, Labourers
or Digital Printing operators

Table 2: Examples of Reskilling in Logistic Sector

Out of the two, upskilling is often the preferred strategy, especially due to its high-value returns with a comparatively lower investment. The scope of this blog is limited to the strategy of upskilling employees.

Challenges in Upskilling

Workforce development is not an easy task. If you are a Logistics company and planning to upskill your employees, watch out for these 3 most common challenges.

  1. Employers’ Resistance – There is a deep-seated fear that providing accredited training will see the employee leave the firm. Employers need to understand that those days are gone when ‘if staff are trained, they will leave’ was applicable. In contrast, training increases the employees’ loyalty, and the employer will have a great hold on their employees’ knowledge and also have their trust.3
  2. Employees’ Resistance – Most of the workforce that is above 30-40 years resists change in the system and finds training futile. Not just employers, but employees have mental blocks too.
  3. High Investments – Training needs a huge investment. In India, only 13-14% is spent on non-salary expenses like training.4 Emerging firms in the Logistics field struggle to collect funds for the upskilling of their employees.

Essentials of Designing an Effective Upskilling Program

Upskilling of the workforce requires a significant investment in terms of both money and time. In this labour-intensive industry, one must be highly proactive in evaluating all factors related to labour and their growth. One small mistake can lead to an expensive loss.

5 points to consider if you are thinking to upskill your existing workforce in the Logistics sector:

  1. Identify the prospects as per the requirement – Selecting the right candidate for training is important as it can prevent unnecessary expenses. Identification of the prospects for the modified job role can be attained either by screening the existing employees or educating them about the benefits of training towards achieving their goals and maintaining employment.
  2. Use the right curriculum – The training provided to the employees can only be fruitful if you use a high-quality and effective curriculum. The curriculum must train the employees on specific job skills, planning and organisation, customer handling, problem-solving, communication, compliance awareness, analytical or reporting skills and so on, whichever be relevant. It is recommended to watch out for the updated curriculum and skill requirements outlined by the National/International Skill Development authorities.
  3. Provide training in the learners’ language – Every individual has a different style of learning and thus training should be provided in the learner’s language. Trainers with vernacular proficiency should be employed for regional trainings.
  4. Provide actionable and measurable insights after training – Conducting specific assessments after the training is necessary as it can help the employees understand where they stand, or how much knowledge they have gained from the training. The insights on growth and development experienced by trainees build morale and encourage employees to work with higher efficiency.
  5. Use engaging content – A crucial thing that should be considered while conducting upskilling is the selection of the training programme. Interesting and engaging content promotes easy and fast learning. The trainer’s qualifications and the quality of training content should also be considered.

Up Next in the Logistics Sector

The logistics sector is going to be one of the most attractive employment sectors in the coming years. It possesses the capability to employ a person of almost every qualification. This sector is heading towards greater sophistication and its jobs are evolving to become more technical. Improving skill sets in this sector will attract more millennials and the Generation Z workforce. A balanced push to upskill the workforce is what is required the most today.

Do you want to learn more about Workforce Development? Visit our website!


References

  1. Welspun One Logistics Park, 2020. India Warehousing Market Report 2020. Knightfrank, p.12.
  2. Vashishtha, P., 2020. Role of logistics industry to revive the economy post covid-19. Available at: https://www.manufacturingtodayindia.com/people/8613-role-of-logistics-industry-to-revive-the-economy-post-covid-19
  3. Faint, R., 2011. Staff Training and Logistics. Available at: https://supplychainlogistics.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/148/
  4. Jhawar, A., Garg, S. and Khera, S., 2014. Analysis of the skilled work force effect on the logistics performance index—case study from India. Logistics Research, 7(1).

About the Author

Nidhi Sharma

Nidhi Sharma has done her masters in Microbiology from Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak and has been working as Associate – Assessment Design and Analytics at Aon’s Assessment Solutions. She has expertise in designing cognitive and vocational assessments and providing hiring solutions to various clients including corporates, universities, and sector skill councils.

More Content by Nidhi Sharma
Previous Flipbook
Client Spotlight - Talent Innovators: Screwfix's Martin Fahy
Client Spotlight - Talent Innovators: Screwfix's Martin Fahy

Spotlight, Assessment Solutions regular Q&A with clients and colleagues, highlights leading viewpoints on t...

NEXT FEATURE
Signposting Future Skills at Siemens
Signposting Future Skills at Siemens

Within five years, 30% of current workforce skills will be obsolete.