Bridging Skills Gap

The vehicle sales figures for the month of June 2015 are not something to rave about. The auto market remains subdued. The economic activity, in general and the industrial production, in particular, are yet to gain traction. While there is a little pick-up in economic activity, the recovery is not broad-based. 

However, the current macroeconomic indicators are somewhat encouraging. Widespread monsoon rains across the country have given a sigh of relief from the lurking fear of the second consecutive rain-deficit year.

Inflation hovering in the 5-6% band is, by and large, within the comfort zone, fuelling hope of a further rate cut by the RBI, when the monetary policy comes up for review on August 4. What is more heartening is that the crude oil prices, after a spike in the recent past, are on downward spiral.

The current scenario notwithstanding, the experts unanimously agree that the long-term prospects of the Indian auto sector are bright. We need to gear for the huge opportunity ahead and address the skill gaps that exist today. The situation is likely to worsen if the corrective measures are not taken immediately. 

I had an opportunity to attend the Skill India launch by the Government on the 15th of July, along with Mr Sunil Chaturvedi, CEO, Automotive Skills Development Council (ASDC). It is very heartening to note that the Hon’ble Prime Minister is leading the initiative from the front. The young population in the country is being viewed as an asset and an opportunity to make India the skill capital of the world.

What is in it for us in the auto retail fraternity? I am sure, each of you will agree that one of the key challenges, we, in auto retail in India, face today is the availability of skilled manpower. This is one element that has an immense bearing on delightful customer service experience and, in turn, on the bottomline of the dealerships. While the Government has taken the lead in skilling people, we in auto retail, should do our bit to help the government in achieving the goal of a skilled India. 

As most of you are aware, FADA, along with SIAM and ACMA, is a founder member of ASDC, formed under the aegis of NSDC. This body has developed the whole framework for defining the skills required in auto sector and the systems to assess. Across the country, ASDC’s accredited training partners have churned out hundreds of  skilled manpower ready to be absorbed by the automobile dealer fraternity. A few of our dealer friends have started their own training centres with affiliation to ASDC. While it addresses the need for skilled manpower, it is also a strong social initiative, which benefits one and all. Henceforth, we shall dedicate a section in this journal to keep the fraternity informed about every aspect of skilling in automotive retail.

Adverting to activities since my last column, FADA Council met in Kolkata on 4th July 2015. The meeting was very meaningful inasmuch as it helped in reviewing the market scenario and identifying major issues facing automobile dealers in various parts of India. The meeting also provided an opportunity for me and other members to meet some of our fellow dealers in Kolkata and eastern region. I would like to thank Mr Vinayak Nayar, Chairman and other members of Motor Industries Association (MIA) for hosting the Council Meeting and making excellent arrangements in connection therewith.

I participated at the program - Digital Garage, organised by CarDekho in collaboration with Google. A few of our council members and other young & tech savvy dealer friends also joined me in the program, which strengthened our belief that digitalisation is going to play a very major role in auto retail. FADA should, therefore, be at the forefront in ensuring that the perspective of the dealer community is built on this aspect. A group of FADA council members is working on the same. 

We are looking forward to our next major event, viz. FADA’s 51st Annual Session and Annual General Meeting, which is proposed to be held in my hometown - Vijayawada on a date during 18-20 September 2015. You will be hearing about the exact date, time and venue very soon. I am expecting a large number of my fellow dealers to participate.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

K V S Prakash Rao

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