The automobile industry is one of the driving forces of Indian economy, contributing about 49% to the country’s manufacturing GDP and 7.5% to its overall GDP, generating almost 32 million employment. In 2018, the Indian automobile market had beaten Germany to become the fourth largest in the world. In the last decade production of two-wheelers, passenger and commercial vehicles in the country has more than doubled.

However, unfortunately Indian auto Industry is expected to top in skill gap too by 2022 (~35 million skilled workforce), next only to Infrastructure industry. Widening skill gap despite Skill-up India initiative is caused by difference in type of demand and the supply. On one side auto industry growth resulting from FDI in the areas of local manufacturing, sourcing & supply chain, engineering outsourcing generates majority of jobs in the bottom of product value chain i.e. either blue collar or basic engineering white collar jobs but on the other side outlook of youth towards employable skill is very traditional in India where technician trades are associated with low salaries, limited growth, lack of recognition compared to managerial roles. Thus, enrolment of students for vocational education and training has become extremely difficult despite several efforts by government.

Hope NEP 2020 (New education policy) will rescue us in future to improve the mindset towards vocational training and technician trades. In western world the philosophy of self-reliance in youth is well cultivated from early age and the principle of “Koi kaam chhota nahi hota” is engrained in minds thus adaptability and acceptability to technician trades is higher. Moreover, social security by government is always a backing for any fallback which is not the case in India.

Skill-Up programs are probably imparted in a disjointed manner such that aspirant is never able to discover himself in the big picture and visualise his own growth path to feel secure while the lack of awareness of government schemes is a given fact. Even majority of aspirants who enrol keep hopping jobs for the sake of paltry increase in salary. Not only technician jobs, stability of even dealer sales executives is no news, same as perennial driver shortage in the industry.

Hopefully with genuine efforts by Indian government through ASDC, NCVT, SSDM, minimum wage acts, labour laws etc, the technician trades would gain spark but acceleration to develop an expert brigade for automobile Industry should be looked in unison with level of skills across the C to C value chain from bottom to top. Current Skill-up programs focuses on bottom of the V-chain and off course it’s a good way to start too but in years to come there is a need for an ecosystem of start-ups to look at it differently to focus up the chain and more importantly connect the full cycle, thus Byju’s of world needs to arise in industry specific education sectors too, it will for sure make marvels of social entrepreneurships.

Indian automotive market is about to overtake Japan in 2025 but the know-how on the upstream knowledge of automobile engineering & manufacturing is really limited to the galleries of a few manufacturing houses and also with a restricted opportunity of knowledge growth there too due to limited Industry-academia partnership in design & research areas. The result is, we are dependent on directions, Instructions when it comes to technology and platform architecture decisions, be it on a parent organisation in case of captive centres or a global consultant in case of domestic OEMs. We are handicapped to the extent that even the automobile engineering syllabus in universities is age old with historic references and even the interaction with auto OEMs are not able to inculcate the sense of design and architectural insights of vehicle into it, but the focus is majorly on constructional, operational, conceptual design aspects of vehicle aggregates albeit an extra focus on engine systems.

‘Industry specific value-up Edutech start-ups’ what I call would not only help a comprehensive approach for skill-Up mission but also help automotive engineers better armed to face first jobs challenges. These start-ups could commoditise nuances of automobile engineering to bridge the gap between product professionals and students/Auto-enthusiasts.

India’s “demographic dividend” – the deluge of millions of youths will come in mainstream job markets in the next decade – is in danger of polarisation to white collar dream faced with blue collar reality, it will hamper India’s potential GDP. The problem is simple: Indians are obsessed with textbook education and white-collar dreams, here is a high time we blur the line between blue collar-white collar and recognise people not by collar but by their hand & brains. While we do this, we create opportunity for wholesome development of youth giving them visibility of big picture and opportunity to learn and migrate/graduate between technical & managerial domains. This is high time Industry, start-ups and academia come together for the social entrepreneurial venture to breakdown the elitisms of knowledge created by scholarly and commoditize it.

Disclaimer – This article is written in full personal capacity and free of charge. This has no conflict of interest with the organisation I work or the current role I perform in the organisation or the information I have access in the organisation. This write-up expresses personal views purely based on information easily and widely available in public domain. Rights to reproduce is protected with self.

Pravesh Soni

Guest Writer, Thought Leader and Non-Profit ‘Student Start-Up’ Mentor.

Autonebula is a connected transportation vehicle accelerator and investment fund that nurtures startups in this realm by mentoring them across business, technology & marketing – Check out Softlanding with Autonebula

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