Manpower: A Looming Spectre on Modern Retailing in India!
Manpower in modern retailing in India makes for an interesting study. This brief account discusses the concerns and issues in the Indian retail manpower scenario, with a focus on the need to address skilling needs for the growth of the retail sector in In
Retailing is a people intensive business. Indian retailing is yet more people intensive as every customer expects to be personally served! It needs a great deal of manpower to energise the business that involves human interventions at all levels of its functional activities. Estimates published by the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship in their Annual Report 2016-17 show that Indian organised retail sector would employ around 5.6 crores by 2022, which renders an immediate incremental requirement of 1.07 crores of direct retail manpower
(Ref: Table 1). And many more are said to be engaged indirectly in employment that relates or adds value to the retail sector. Thus the retail sector comes second only to agriculture in direct manpower employment. Manpower in modern retailing in India makes an interesting study. This brief account discusses the concerns and issues in the Indian retail manpower scenario, with a focus on the need to address skilling needs for the growth of the retail sector in India in the coming years.
Issues and Concerns of Manpower in Indian Retailing
Images Analysis estimates that the industry with a whopping size of USD 932.96 billion (2017) is currently growing at a CAGR of 14.3 percent. But, manpower availability is a concern that looms large as a specter on the face of the sector. With more than half of India’s 1.2 billion population aged below 25, there is yet shortage of manpower foreseen in the retail sector, however. The attrition levels are high in the retail sector that puts organisations in a situation where they constantly seek to scout for people with the right skills as they
expand. DC Asia Pacific Retail Industry Trend Survey 2016, a study of 260 Asia Pacific retailers, shows the very significance of retail employee efficiency as it emerges as one of the key drivers of successful retail operations. Socio-cultural issues, the nature of job itself, lack of formal education and lack of skilled manpower are the main concerns surrounding the very fabric of the Indian retail workforce.
Socio Cultural Issues:
The cultural and social mindsets of our country make it difficult to motivate today’s youth to enter the retail sector. Retail careers are not much sought after by young people as they are considered low paying and time demanding. Retail employees need to work on festival days as well due to big business opportunities. They are seldom able to spend their time along with their family during festive seasons and this creates a great deal of stress in their personal life. Further it is yet considered by many as infra-dig to be employed in retailing, especially in front-end positions where direct sales and customer service roles are involved. Nature of the Retail Job:
The tiring nature of retail job demands long working hours. In retailing, the employees are required to stand and serve customers in the store throughout the day. Most of the retail employees need to work on weekends,as we are aware that customer traffic surges during Saturdays and Sundays and the weekly off day for them is generally scheduled on a weekday. This too puts the retail manpower to great inconvenience as it could contradict with the weekend holiday of the other family members. Just imagine the plight of a family where the wife engaged in retailing has her weekly off on a Tuesday and the bank employed husband has his day off on a Sunday with no common day in a week
to spend together! So the personal family time in the retail employee’s life is in jeopardy, leading to tons of stress in life. This stress could even lead to serious health issues like deprivation of sleep and anxiety among the employee. This could also result in lower motivation levels affecting the very performance of organizations.
The Issue of Low
Remuneration: The salary levels for front-end employees are very low in the Indian retail industry. The Customer Service Associate who is selling products behind the counter is often paid only around the minimum wage of that particular region. With a high cost of living in Tier I &II cities and the demanding nature of the retail job, it is no longer a lucrative job option with many. There is a high level of attrition in the front-end positions of the retail sector, as employees don’t hesitate to shift even for a meager increase in their salary. So the major part of retail employees is not seen to be loyal to their organizations.
There are comparatively less prospects of career growth for the frontline employees than the ones engaged in back-end roles like Merchandising, Buying or Marketing. Of the total manpower, 70% of retail employees are found to be in the frontline positions. There aren’t enough hierarchical levels for them to grow in their career too, given the limiting nature of the available skill sets in them. So organizations are often constrained to neither find the right people nor retain them for long periods in the same position.
Lack of Manpower with Formal Education & Skills:
Many retail employees join as customer service associates after completing their Higher Secondary Education (10+2). The retail job demands so much of their time that they lose out on opportunities to continue their education further. Promotions also become elusive since they do not have adequate opportunities to upgrade themselves by improving in their educational qualification. Of two employees with the same work experience, the one who has higher educational qualification stand a better chance of getting promoted. Relevant higher education or up-skilling can give them a broader perspective of the retail industry and can make them feel more confident to have a winning career.
The present opportunities to update and upgrade themselves are found to be few and far between, and this discourages them largely.
Big Retail Growth Means Big Opportunities
The behavior pattern of the Indian consumer has undergone a major change thanks to the Country’s fast economic growth. The Indian consumer is earning more now and he/she has western influences too. Consumers seek better quality. Consumers now want to eat, shop, and get entertained preferably under the same roof. They expect excellent service levels and they relate their own satisfaction with the service rendered by the retail organizations
MANY RETAIL EMPLOYEES JOIN AS CUSTOMER SERVICE ASSOCIATES AFTER COMPLETING THEIR HIGHER SECONDARY EDUCATION (10+2). THE RETAIL JOB DEMANDS SO MUCH OF THEIR TIME THAT THEY LOSE OUT ON OPPORTUNITIES TO CONTINUE THEIR EDUCATION FURTHER.
THE GAP IN SUPPLY OF QUALITY MANPOWER AGAINST THE DEMAND IS DEEPLY FELT BY RETAIL ORGANIZATIONS, ESPECIALLY AT A CRITICAL TIME WHEN MANY ORGANIZATIONS ARE SEEN TO BE IN A FAST EXPANSION SPREE.
through employees. The retail manpower has to be qualified and trained enough with appropriate skills and knowledge to understand customer needs and serve them. The gap in supply of quality manpower against the demand is deeply felt by retail organizations, especially at a critical time when many organizations are seen to be in a fast expansion spree. The opportunities are huge. As organisations expand, so does the demand for manpower in retailing. The irony of the situation is that India is said to have has over 40 lakh unemployed graduates when employers are desperate for finding people with the right talent! Most of the big business houses strong in manufacturing also have been expanding fast in the retail sector like Tata, Aditya Birla, Mahindra and Reliance besides the existing retail behemoths like Future Group, Rahejas, RPG, etc The big brand proliferation in India has recently seen the setting up of large exclusive brand stores like H&M, Zara and Ikea. India witnessed the launch of the first Ikea store in 4 lakh sq. ft in Hyderabad in August 2018. The single store is said to have employed 950 employees! With each IKEA store, employing around a 1000 employees one can imagine the big need for retail people as they open many stores in the very near future! Companies are also seen to poach skilled employees, luring them with higher salary, designation, perks etc. as organisations continue to open their new stores. There is now a big need for creating new retailing talents fast.
Initiatives to Bridge the Skill Gap in Retail Sector
National Skills Development
Corporation (NSDC): It is expected that India may face a daunting challenge by 2022 as the country may see a manufacturing skills gap of nearly 90 million workers and some 500 million workers across all skilled sectors. India’s National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), a non-profit company, aims to help solve this problem. NSDC aspires to create 150 million skilled laborers across 21 sectors that may meet or exceed international standards.
The main thrust of NSDC’S mission lies in the promotion of skill development through proper funding – either through loans or equity – of large, quality, for-profit vocational training institutions, programs that are proposed by way of private (both for profit and not for profit) sector initiatives. It is said to be truly a demand-led model, designed to develop and supply the talent needed by the private sector to grow. NSDC is sincere in its intent to create talent pools by constantly putting in efforts through the several skill sector councils and facilitating sector skill training on a mass scale. NSDC’S initiative has given rise to the formation of Retailers Association Skill Council of India (RASCI), that focuses on creating and developing National Occupational Standards (NOS) for all relevant roles in the Retail Industry, to create a well-structured labour market information system, to accredit training partners, to certify trainers, to assess and certify learners. RASCI represents the retail industry in India. RASCI is a comprehensive source of retail expertise and independent advice for the retailing industry with a clear mandate to work with training organizations, educational institutions, certifying bodies, employees, students or job
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