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Leveraging Technology for Skill Development in Logistics by Anand Trivedi

Skilling in the sector of logistics mainly entails the understanding of the operational aspects of the sector combined with the procedural / compliance aspects and the getting a grasp of the larger implications of the services or the lack of it on the business outcomes of its customers.

Fundamentally, it requires the macro as well as micro understanding and operational skill of managing 3 flows – material, finance and information. So, typically, unlike the core manufacturing skills where the breakup of class room to lab time spend for a typical course is likely to be 70:30, in the sector of Logistics, it would be about 55:45. Having said that, the port / ICD, etc visits more than compensates for this by giving a real scenario feel of the situation.

While Skill development at large is observing technologies like haptics, simulators, etc. to improve the lab work experience while cutting down on material usage costs, pedagogically as well, smart classes and other innovative tools like K-Yan (Knowledge Yan) are adding that extra bit to the classroom experience by enabling better visualization; a key to quicker and clearer understanding. Administratively as well, use of Institute wide systems are reducing the overhead of managing an institute. At a macro level, the advent of LMIS (Labour Market Information System) with real time updates on skill demand, supply side aspirations as well as individual applicant level tracking by connecting the employment exchanges, the industries as well as the training providers is bridging the information gaps between critical stakeholders in the skilling domain.

In this context, the role of technology in skilling in the logistics has multi-dimensional value to the sector. It would be apt to look at the potential value it holds in broadly 3 aspects of skilling in the sector – Pedagogical, Outreach and Exposure related and finally Administrative.

Consider the case of courses to do with training executives for CHAs / Freight Forwarders / Courier companies. Here, the roles for which trainings are provided can broadly be classified under two types – Field based and Desk based. So, in case of desk based roles like Import / Export documentation executives, understanding of the letter of the law and its implementation through hands-on documentation are the two major components of their training. So, in such a scenario, IT, using interactive content delivery can really simplify the process of understanding the law. Having said that, animation based IT enables case studies with students being asked to run through them individually on personal machine with individual level error scenario and training based on that can immensely speed up the process of building domain expertise. For the field / floor based roles like fork lift operators, etc. which require the use of tools, simulators would be the best way to enhance the training experience whereas for profiles like Courier Delivery executives, etc. tech-enabled role plays can go a long way in improving the soft skills to enhance customer experience. Soft skills across the sector is one thing which can be significantly enhance by using audio-visual cases and role plays.

With respect to the Outreach and Exposure aspect, for example, 3D visualizations of a typical port followed by real port visit and thereafter videos of major ports and their operations across the world can simply expand the horizon of the student and sensitize her/him to the best practices of operations. And this can be done across the components enabling outreach and exposure. An institute level interactive platform for industries to review incoming student profiles while giving inputs on TLM practices in the institute can go a long way in bridging the academia-industry divide.

Technology in general and IT in particular can best be leveraged to simplify the administrative challenges. We all know how ERP equivalent web enabled Institute wide IT platforms can optimize the tangible and intangible resources within the institute. However, now these systems are being broadened to include external stakeholders like industry experts, Alumni, Placement coordinators as well as Recruiters to build integrated and transparent mechanisms while transferring the growth ownership from one to many and thereby enabling a rapid scale up of the institutes in the skill development sector. Putting all of these together, we can see how seamless the entire trainee –trainer – recruiter experience can become.

Hence, in the process of creating the next generation skilled manpower for the Logistics sector, the role of technology is critical to the extent of being irreplaceable. We might soon see a situation where a training provider in Mundra is training a port operations executive aspirant sitting in Ahmedabad with collaborative trainings being organized by trainers from Antewarp in Belgium and Dubai, UAE with latest technology enabled tools. Have we woken up to this possibility yet or do we choose to be forced by technology into it – is a matter of our choice!

Anand Trivedi is BE, MBA-MDI-Gurgaon. Management Consultant with JBS Academy and Contributor to JBS Knowledge Centre.