Any organization's expansion is entirely dependent on its workforce. Each employee has a wider role in day-to-day operations, regardless of whether the organization is a small business or a multinational enterprise. Of course, challenges exist, providing sufficient time for employees to learn and evolve, and also making proper infrastructure available on a large-scale basis. Yet, training and development of blue-collar associates is the only way for companies to embrace the future while equipping their workforce with the necessary knowledge that they need to succeed.
New skills are required for production and shop-floor linked associates in the manufacturing space. Automated production will necessitate a smarter workforce that can repair, operate, and maintain new-age technological tools. Associates require up-scaling for adapting to newer technologies as well as multiskilling. Hence, with evolving working standards, best practices, and quality protocols, blue-collar associates will need to be trained on the same, providing them with further avenues for growth as well. It is also helpful in building a more inclusive workforce. Welspun India is already leading this spectrum with a robust plan at all levels, which involves proper training, development, and empowerment of its associates at manufacturing facilities. There are two inclusive and innovation-driven initiatives at the company’s facilities.
It is a Development Program, launched by Welspun India to build the productivity of blue-collar associates. This was launched to decrease operational costs and make associates a part of the transformational journey.
It is an organization-wide Innovation program rolled out by Welspun India Limited in June 2021 to nurture and promote an entrepreneurial work culture. It has received more than 524 ideas which have potential benefits of nearly 13.2 Crs.
There are a large number of blue-collar associates in the textile industry, considering that it is a manufacturing-driven and labor-intensive space. Yet, in a fast-changing industrial spectrum, how important is training and development for blue-collar associates in the textile industry in India? The answer, according to experts, is that it is not just important, but indispensable.
As per the industry evolution naturally, the market creates a demand for additional training and education for blue-collar associates. The kinds of abilities that workers need to acquire are quickly changing, and it appears to be getting harder for the employees to stay up. Technology has enabled a faster switch towards automation and lower dependence on manual operations at manufacturing sites industry-wide. This necessitates skill development and training to enable the shift from regular blue-collar associates to highly skilled and knowledgeable associates.
The country has an estimated 300 million associates in this category and while there are skilling programs implemented at various levels, there is still a shortage of suitably structured training programs for the blue-collar workforce, giving them insights and knowledge on industry-specific goals, responsibilities, and evolving job demands. Demand is also estimated to rise for highly skilled associates in the future, especially with the advent of robotics, automation, and other technological tools. Associates will have to carry out more advanced tasks while staying in sync with evolved and more stringent processes which fuse neatly with automation and technology.
In Welspun India, the training and development paradigm has changed swiftly over the last few years. Today, blue-collar work is not only about doing repetitive or laborious physical jobs. New-age duties now require basic digital or technological literacy with a view towards ensuring better task management, higher efficiency, and creating more intelligent workflows for manufacturing operations. Quality of jobs, building smart factories for the future, mundane jobs to higher level jobs, up-scaling & multi-skilling are some of the aspects of how training concerns of blue-collar associates are met.
At the same time, manufacturing entities will focus more on EHS (Environment, Health, Safety) standards and the ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) protocols as well. This will make it mandatory for blue-collar associates to acquire knowledge and skill sets in a bid to stay within the evolving spectrum of these best practices and protocols. EHS skills will gain more importance at manufacturing facilities while ESG standards will be met only through adherence to several innovative technological and production-linked processes along with other standards in terms of sourcing, raw materials, production methods, finishing, resource utilization, and more aspects.
Complying with ESG and EHS will naturally require a skilled and intelligent workforce with the necessary training and development (and certification in many cases). At the same time, it can also be said that up-skilling will enhance employee morale and open new avenues for these associates along with helping them build new skills, gain more knowledge and enhance their employability and productivity alike. They will also learn to use problem-solving techniques and harness analytical thinking in the workplace.