The retail-scape in the country is on the way up and the future surely looks bright and shiny for the sector in India. As the sector is growing, the need for skilled man-power is apparent, also this requires the workforce to be not only physically trained to undertake activities but also educated enough to handle the work in an efficient manner.
The sector needs to be equipped with professional, credited institutions that can make sure the education is imparted with the right approach. In the context of our educational system one would say the underlining reason is a delay in the educational system responding to industry needs and the absence of industry inputs in content development process.
Another strong reason is the negative stigma attached to the vocational stream of education. Vocational skills training have always been deemed secondary to traditional higher education and have got neither the support nor the importance it deserved. The conditions of entry level employment in the industry is such that ‘trespassers are hired’ in the literal sense.
Mr. Hari Menon, CEO, IndiaSkills says” Today, industry does not mandate certification for entry level jobs nor do they differentiate in compensation between certified & non-certified workforce. So the learner who joins the retail course and then gets a job in the industry gets the same salary as the trespasser who joined.
One such player that comes to mind with regards to retail courses is India Skills. The concept of IndiaSkills is based on two distinct factors; the need to bridge the yawning gap between formal education, employability & employment as well as the need to bring in international standards of content, training and certification into the Indian vocational training scenario.
India faces a crisis in terms of possessing a huge workforce that does not have any employable/job-related skills. They aim to help in empowering the current as well as future workforce with job-skills that will make them productive for the industry. IndiaSkills has 58 centres across 10 states in the country and the Retail course is available at a majority of the centres. The course fees of INR 10,500/- has been designed to be inline with standard industry salary offered to an entry-level Customer Service Associate at any retail outlet. Their relevant contribution to the retail sector has been visible through their tie ups with heavyweights like Shopper Stop, Madura Group etc. Speaking on behalf of Shopper Stop is Mr.BVM Rao, Head HR, Shoppers Stop on quality of IndiaSkills students: “The kind of students that we got from IndiaSkills were very well trained, very well groomed, always with a smile on their face and they are always floor ready staff for us to run the business. When we do a recruitment drive the hit ratio is around 25% in any other normal drive, but with IndiaSkills it’s always around 70-80% which is very high compared to any other industry norms.”
On the up
The scenario is changing and prospects of retail education are starting to look better, but to actually start making a difference the industry itself has to take an initiative. The government and the industry have already realized the seriousness of the situation and have initiated necessary steps to implement skills training courses. The government has declared its agenda of skilling 500 million by 2020 and has formed the National Skills Development Corporation to spearhead its activities. There are various government bodies offering different schemes to fund vocational courses for upliftment of rural & economically challenged masses.
Once the framework is finalized and implemented it will bring about a paradigm shift in the perception of skills training in India.