Economy

Auto sector puts in place building blocks for skills

Murali Gopalan Mumbai | Updated on November 15, 2017 Published on June 15, 2012

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Nearly eight years ago, the human resource (HR) chiefs of several automobile companies in India decided to team up for a cause. The list included the likes of Mahindra & Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, Tata Motors, Ashok Leyland and Toyota Kirloskar Motor.

“The idea was to kick off a process of building skills within the auto industry. We had to collaborate even while being competitors in the market,” Mr Prince M. Augustin, Executive Vice-President (Group Human Capital & Leadership Development), M&M, told Business Line.

It was also at this time that the auto industry was witnessing a sudden expansion which caught most companies by surprise. “HR's top priority then was to go for rapid skills development while scaling up simultaneously,” Mr Augustin said. Companies were expanding R&D operations, and getting the right people was the biggest challenge.

Skill development

What started as a joint HR effort by a handful of auto majors, has since grown into a larger human capital group within the SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) fold.

A workforce development vertical was put in place to adopt 100 industrial training institutes and operate along with the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC).

This, in turn, spawned the Automotive Skills Development Council whose key promoters are the Centre, NSDC, SIAM, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association and Federation of Automobile Dealers. ASDC's eventual goal is to create an ecosystem for skill development.

According to Mr Augustin, there are long-term goals in place and the curriculum is specifically being created for service technicians, drivers etc. Experiments are already underway in Bangalore and Delhi.

“We need to increase the size of the pond instead of poaching from each other. Skill development centres will be set up across the country where people will be trained,” he said. They will then be allowed to upgrade their skills and move from dealerships to automobile companies. The ASDC will create the value chain to help them grow and the human capital group within SIAM will act as a catalyst.

Brand strategy

From M&M's point of view, an interesting initiative was Auto Passion which was part of an employer branding strategy. It was an umbrella idea to create attractiveness for the auto industry and for people who love automobiles.

“By the end of the day, creativity in this industry goes back to over 100 years and people with engineering-centric marketing ideas can revel in this business,” Mr Augustin said.

M&M took this idea across 400 engineering colleges and, today, Auto Passion has emerged among the top brands across campuses.

The automobile industry is also the preferred space for engineering graduates.

“Auto Passion built the brand for the industry and positioned M&M as a company which allows people with the passion to grow,” Mr Augustin said.

> gmurali@thehindu.co.in

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Published on June 15, 2012
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