Homework after FDI

Indian retail industry is in dire need of professional front line staffs that can become the backbone of modern retail.
homework after FDI


When it rains, it pours. And it was pouring trouble. Mukesh Kumar, standing tall and lanky in his clean shirt and pair of trousers talks about trouble without a hint of emotion. Like one would of a constant reality of life. We soon find out why. "My father was admitted in the hospital with a liver problem, his treatment cost Rs.900000." Sitting in his sparse house we wonder how his family could have afforded the treatment. "We had to sell off household items, to make ends meet. Took loans, and now we owe a lot of money." He offers, as if reading our mind.

With his previous employer shutting shop without paying Mukesh his dues, a young sibling studying in school, an ailing father, and mother working as a maid in households, it seemed that the thunderstorm in his life would take everything down. He then found out about Bharti Walmart Training Centre, where Mukesh underwent a short course in retail. His life is slowly but steadily coming back on track.

Indian land which has become the consumer hub of Asia is one of the most promising destinations for the global retailers. Reports constantly stress on the fact that India is the top retail investment places among the emerging countries broadly because of the huge consumer base which is ought to become fifth largest by 2020 which is at present 12th largest in the world.

The organised retail sector is likely to increase its share from the current 4 per cent to over per cent by 2010, as the overall retail sector grows from $328 billion to $430 billion, as per report by ASSOCHAM. The picture seems perfect for the investors but when it comes to the frontline staff and their skill set India lacks way back compared to its competitors. Customer service has proved to be the decisive element in the success of modern retailers. Keeping this in mind, India has to fill the void faster than the pace with which organised retail is expanding. It is estimated that the size of organised retail will cross 20 % by 2025 from 4 per cent which is where it stands today.

The groundwork seems to have started in the country. Various organizations and retailers have initiated the step towards this. Given the size and mandate of task to be achieved, Skill Development has assumed significant prominence so much so that there is a National Commission on Skill Development directly under the office of the Prime Minister of India. Government has set up its nodal agency – National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) that is working in partnership with various corporates towards achieving this mandate.

FDI in retail is not the last hurdle that was stopping the retailers to venture into India, rather it was the first step and generating professional manpower is the next big challenge. If the intention was to en cash huge consumer market with foreign exchange then this challenge has to be perceived as an opportunity. One of the examples of this is the association of Bharti Walmart with Centum learning solutions which has is established and is running training centers for the retail chain at multiple locations in the country. All selected candidates are provided with a 100 per cent scholarship by the client company for a one month long training programme that trains the candidates on various skills required to work in a retail environment. The 14 centers located at Amritsar, Aurangabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jalna, Jalandhar, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Mumbai, Zirakpur. Till now over 40,000 frontline staffs have been trained and are working with different retailers across the country.  

Sudden and unprecedented growth in organised retailing is more than challenge to human resources development. Therefore, it is extremely important to look at the dimension of human resource practices in retail industry, emerging requirements and challenges and measures to improve work atmosphere in Indian scenario. 

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