The great divide: Blue-collar employee skills versus the industry requirements

The journey for the average rural population to migrate to big cosmopolitan cities and find their feet there has a lot more than what meets the eye. Though the broader perspective is to get better jobs and a better future, the transition is anything but easy. Since the workforce is mostly unorganised, they have a lot of challenges even before they can set foot on their journey. Several studies in the past have revealed various loopholes and skill gaps in the blue collar industry. Here’s an expectation vs reality check on some of them.

Skills vs relevance

To begin with, most of them do not have a specific industry or job in mind when they come to the cities. They don’t know what jobs are in demand, or what are the industry norms, or even what skills are in demand. This also means that they aren’t categorically trained to handle a particular job role, unlike the white-collar counterparts even though they are equally crucial for the industries to function. Once they have shifted base to big cities, they have to start all over from the scratch. They don’t know what skills are relevant in the market and lead them to better jobs.

Training vs placement

Not all of the workforce is completely raw in terms of training. The government is focussing towards training this workforce. Even though the National Skill Development Council’s (NSDC) is working towards training more and more people, the data points towards the skill-employment mismatch in the industry. The good part is that around 40 lakh people have been placed in a span of over two years, but the number of people trained is still higher by over 30%. So there are a lot of skilled people who have a scope of getting staffed across various industries.

Demand vs opportunities

In a country with a massive rural population like ours, demand for jobs is high and which is why people in abundant numbers keep migrating to big cities in search of blue-collar jobs. However, across various sectors, companies still constantly struggle to fill vacancies in the semi-formal workforce, ranging from drivers and housekeeping staff to security and delivery staff. A recent report suggested that attrition in delivery staff rose to 34% in 2017 from 29% two years earlier. The migratory population struggles to find relevant opportunities after being trained. The NSDC’s data also indicates that we have a labour pool trained with skills that just need to be directed to the right demand.

Job skills teamed with soft skills

In today’s times, employability depends on many factors in the blue-collar segment. It isn’t just competence in job skills that land them the job, but they also need to have soft skills. Unlike white-collar jobs, this is not usually ingrained in them. They need to work on it. Whether it’s a cab driver or a delivery executive or a security guard, all of these people need to have some basic customer interaction at some point of time. So they should be equipped with basic soft skills apart from knowing their job role inside out. And since most of them belong to the rural population, it gets hard for them to acquire those skills on their own.

The demand-supply gap is visible already and many studies have revealed that India will need millions of blue-collar employees staffed across different sectors in the years to come. So getting them trained for those roles is as important as hiring them.

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