It is important to note that upskilling does not just involve technical skills, but it also includes skills like safety, teamwork and mental health in the workplace; everything that contributes to building a holistic work environment that fosters growth

We are at the cusp of the second wave of the COVID 19 pandemic and the resultant partial lockdowns across states. However, the impact on industries has not been as adverse as the first wave which has caused a complete shutdown of operations. Last year was a learning experience for industries like the building materials segment, especially from a workforce point of view as this sector is fundamentally shy of virtual working or hybrid working and requires on-ground presence. The need of the hour thus was to ensure that the talent is up-skilled to stay relevant to the new world of work, especially w.r.t digital skills, niche domain expertise, managing teams virtually, behaviour skills, among others.

Today the industry is better prepared for unprecedented events, constantly innovating on all fronts. Up-skilling and reskilling has become an indispensable part of the sector’s work culture. Here are the four key areas where up-skilling efforts have been rampant:

Technology is the god of all skills today: Traditionally the skills used in building material industry involved manual labour extensively. The precise execution of a project relied on the dexterity of the workers, and it required large amounts of physical labour. However, today, this trend is going through a paradigm shift, and it is being replaced by employees who possess skills based on the accurate use of modern and growing technology. It has now become important for employees to learn how to implement and operate machines with advanced technology, and the only way to do that is through upskilling.

Staying relevant with changing times: The COVID-19 pandemic and the rules of social distancing that comes with it, has changed the way factories and manufacturing units operate. This shift is most likely to stay permanent even when the pandemic is over. Some of the job roles are also seeing some strategic shifts, especially from a digitization point of view. Upskilling and reskilling efforts have significantly increased on this front to better equip workers to stay ahead of the curve and stay relevant.

Behavioural skills and mental wellbeing is crucial as well: Today only digital and domain skills are not enough, companies are also focusing on hiring talent with behavioural skills like team management, soft skills, presentation skills, communication skills, managerial skills etc. This is also in the building materials industry. In the current scenario training people for mental wellbeing has also become important and many companies in this segment are empowering employees and workers to manage their work and mental wellbeing by introducing different programs and initiatives.

Hybrid workforce requires hybrid training methods: This sector employs both white-collar and blue collar workforce and hence one suit that fits all for up-skilling is not suitable to meet the requirements. It is important to identify and work on different training methods, tailored for different employees. There are differences in the training needs for a corporate employee and a factory employee. For instance, training on topics like fire safety, road safety are suitable for factory workers and RMC truck drivers, whereas training on topics like team work, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution sessions is advisable for corporate office employees, and on soft skills sessions for the sales teams. It is important to note that upskilling does not just involve technical skills, but it also includes skills like safety, team work and mental health in the work place; everything that contributes to building a holistic work environment that fosters growth. Setting up a round-the-year training calendar for employees is crucial to ensure that the right kind of skills are built through the year.

The building materials industry is estimated to record a CAGR of 15% and reach INR 29,782.2 billion by 2024. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, growth may have slowed down to some degree but with the right impetus like the boost to the affordable housing segment, government’s push towards infrastructural development, and the growing real estate segment, building materials industry is expected to bounce back with rigor in no time. To aid this recovery and growth, having the right skilled talent will be crucial for organizations. And thus, companies are likely to increase their efforts as well as investments into skilling their employees and building a strong human capital pipeline

(The given article is attributed to Aparna Reddy, Executive Director, Aparna Enterprises and solely created for BW People)