Skill and Technology: The key factors
The cargo and logistics sector in India paradoxically is plagued by a huge shortage of skilled manpower and low use of technology. This is despite the fact that India has potential of being a manufacturing as well a logistics hub. And, it has ample manpower and is worldrenowned for its IT solutions. Where is the stalemate, then? It is the absolute apathy of the policy-makers. When the segment is treated as nobody’s child, the problem of under-investment in the same is obvious. Hence, developing skilled manpower and utilisation of proper technologies are apparently luxuries for majority of the cargo and logistics practitioners, who are mainly small and middle sized players. Above all, a firm policy from the government pertaining to fast cargo clearing mechanism and standardisation of processes by a centralised system would be the most essential task to realise its potential. The industry believes that, first of all, the government of India needs to accord an industry status to the logistics segment. It proposes that a committee should be set up to study the standardisation of process across the logistics service providers. A standardisation of education and training for cargo and logistics industry is another key area requiring the attention of policy makers. The need for adequate training is felt through the industry. There should be a governing body that focusses on training and skills-building aspect. Another vital initiative is the need to encourage adoption of Information Technology by the SME segment. For example- the government can introduce soft loans for SMEs for encouraging IT adoption, as this will aid in easing the movement of cargo in the Indian Supply Chain. This is also the time to build a proper system and increase use of information technology for managing businesses. Industry veterans believe that, while Indian manufacturing industries have done wonders in manufacturing areas, they can do better in last-mile delivery. The focus should be more on skilled fieldworkers, like drivers, imbibing simple and need-based technologies. It will help improve logistics in the country and save cost to the national GDP, which is about 14 per cent now. Significantly, a number of cargo and logistics technology solution providers are providing innovative and cost effective products/services, catering to this developing market, where skilled and unskilled forces, and manual and technology-based practices have to go hand-in-hand for a long time, till a standard logistics policy is in place.