India’s Logistics industry has the potential to grow exponentially. To meet the demands of the industry, the workforce needs to be equipped with the latest technologies, knowledge, and skills. We spoke to Captain Yogesh Kundra, President, Avaan – Gati Academy, to understand the growing needs of the Logistics sector in India and the necessary reforms in capacity building. This widened our knowledge of the industry’s perspective on skilling, along with the aspects that are critical to training. Here we go with the conversation!
Q: Could you tell us about Gati’s journey in training the workforce in the Logistics sector?
A: Mr. Mahendra Kumar Agarwal, founder and Managing Director of Gati, pioneered the concept of Express Cargo distribution in 1989. Gati has retained its leadership position under his leadership since inception. Now, Mr. Agarwal has initiated new business opportunities with focus on innovation, disruption in logistics and supply chain space under the brand Avaan. Skill development and job-oriented training will be a strategic component of the initiative.
Training has always been a critical part of Gati. We always take people from the grassroots level and villages. We mobilize and get students from all parts of the country. Along with training, we also provide infrastructure facilities to the trainees in the form of Gati Nivas, which includes accommodation and food.
In the initial years, we did not even have computers in Gati. So, the only way we achieved standardization is through training. We had central HR Teams, which used to create and develop training modules, design entry-level programs, management training programs, and leadership level Training programs. We grew as a company very strongly only through our training programs.
We have a training department at Gati, which looks into internal training. Avaan- Gati Academy mobilizes students for entry-level job roles and imparts training to the students at Gati Training Centres in Hyderabad, Pune, and Delhi. At these Training Centres, most of our trainees come from institutes run by NSDC PIAs (Training Partners). We bring them to our academy; give them orientation plans, process training and place them at Gati hubs for on-the-job training before absorbing them on regular assignments.
Q: Is there a huge skill gap between what the Logistics industry wants and what the academia provides?
A: Yes, there is a huge gap. Today, we have more than 1000 training institutes in the country. But the placements of candidates skilled in the institutes are only 30-35%. This shows that the training provided in these institutes does not match our industry requirements. The industry is not finding them suitable and there is a skill gap between supply and demand.
To avoid such mismatches and to bridge the skill gap, we, at Avaan – Gati Academy, connect with the industry, find out what kind of courses do they need and at what level. This helps us in designing the courses according to those parameters. We are also planning to establish a Multi-Skill Development Center in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Pondicherry that could address many of these issues.
Q: How do you create awareness about Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in the Logistics sector and what are your plans for accelerating its implementation?
- Avaan – Gati Academy is pursuing training of Road Pilots (Drivers), Handlers, Pickers, Documentation Assistants under the RPL program with the support and guidance given by Logistics Sector Skill Council (LSC).
- We are also in discussion with LSC to start ‘Skill Gap Analysis’ and council drivers to bridge the skill gaps through mobile driver training vans installed with state-of-the-art simulator. LSC will provide the support of the simulator and Avaan – Gati Academy will mount the simulator on a closed container body, which will move to truck terminals and other places to undertake skill gap analysis and council drivers under the RPL program.
- After implementing the pilot project, we will expand the driver mobile training vans to cover all major fleet centers in the country.
Related interview: How Logistics Skill Council (LSC) is creating industry-ready workforce through skill development in various sub-sectors – Read more: https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/logistics-skill-council/
Q: What are some of the innovative initiatives that are aimed at keeping pace with the growing Logistics industry?
- While many logistics companies are focusing on developing electric charging infrastructure and technology products, Gati Academy plans to focus on skilling fresh candidates to be Customer Delivery Experts by operating E-vehicle and deliver end-to-end pick up to the delivery process.
- We have established the Driver Training Institute at Swarna Bharat Trust- Hyderabad to conduct an E-Vehicle driver training program under the PMKY program of NSDC under the guidance of LSC.
- We are also establishing the International Driver Training Institute at Ananthapur under the joint initiative with the Government of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
- Gati Academy also plans to train over 10,000 drivers under RPL and PMKY programs with the support of LSC and NSDC.
Q: Where would Avaan-Gati Academy like to see itself in the future?
A: We aim to be a pan-India training partner of NSDC and connect with the rural people to reach out to BPL families and give them training in different jobs and facilitate placement through our network.
As the logistics industry is growing in India, we have a bigger vision for drivers. As we all know, there are different types of driving licenses; 2- wheeler, 4-wheeler, commercial vehicle and heavy vehicle. After one year of receiving a commercial vehicle license, the drivers will be able to get a heavy vehicle license. But throughout this process, there is no proper training and standardised certification.
The government wants to establish driving training institutes in various parts of the country. In these training centers, the students will have to go through online tests and assessments. Only if he/she qualifies those tests, RTO will be able to issue the certificate.
Similarly, we also established training institutes for drivers to build a chain of drivers and training institutes. This will help us in training and getting new drivers the driving license, to be able to convert Light Motor Vehicle (LMV) licence to the Heavy Motor Vehicle Licence (HMV). Even in HMV licenses, there are many types. But there is no specific training for different types and no separate licenses to access a driver’s aptitude. So far there is no structure in place to see how a driver grows and learns. This is where we want to build infrastructure, a data bank, which consists of information on available drivers and their capabilities.
Related article: Indian Logistics Industry: Technology Trends and Skills – Read more: https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/indian-logistics-industry-technology-trends-and-skills/
The most important issue in the logistics industry is facing is the shortage of drivers. The industry says, for every 1000 vehicles, there are only 600 drivers. Which means there is a 40% shortage of drivers. One reason for this is, one wants to be a driver because of many socioeconomic factors. The social issue with the profession concerns the family life, structured salaries and a source of security.
Many students who come for training, want a job close to their homes. So, we must make efforts to connect these boys to get the exposure of the right skill set, be able to connect them through digital media to employers so that they can reach out to these students.
Q: Other than training, do you see issues that need to be looked into?
A: A major concern is to transform the profession of driving and make it aspirational! In the case of flights, pilots keep changing. Even in trains, the loco pilots change after a few hours and the trains continue to run. But for trucks, this does not happen. They are not allowed to change for various reasons. Therefore, we are trying to build pit stops for truck drivers, where they can get down and freshen up.
We should build a system in the Logistics sector where, a driver can drive half the distance, take a break, and bring back the truck brought by another driver till the pit stop. The opposite driver will carry the other truck back to his place of origin. This will enable drivers to get back to their homes within 24 hours. This will help in addressing various social problems to some extent. This is the vision of Gati, to make the driving jobs aspirational.
Q: How has technology influenced the Logistics industry?
Technology affecting the jobs is a myth. In fact, it has increased the efficiency and effectiveness. Right from ordering online, storing the product, giving feedback to the product, and other convenience factors have helped in creating more services.
The key function of first and last-mile pickup/delivery has to be done physically. Application of different types of delivery vehicles such as bikers, 3 – 4 wheels small capacity E-vehicle has only increased employment opportunities. Logistics and e-commerce companies find it difficult to get skilled human resources. Therefore, technology has enabled more disruptions, changed business models and has created more opportunities and jobs for people. The employment of skilled workforce opportunities is growing and has a lot of scope for the industry to improve.
Q: How is India’s Logistics sector positioned in the coming years in terms of meeting the demand for skilled professionals?
A: We should look at the integration of education with the industry. The industry needs better qualified MBA graduates and Engineers. Competitiveness of countries and their positioning depends majorly on Logistics. India, some what lacks this, purely because of the lack of skilled and competent manpower. So, the more skilled we are, the more process-oriented we become, the more technology we use, the closer we get to becoming competitive.