Empowering India: Formal Education in the Logistics Sector

India’s logistics and supply chain sector is growing at an unprecedented pace, supported by the many tools that come along with the adoption of modern technology to enhance efficiency and resilience. As a result, there is also a need for trained and talented professionals, enabled to wield the power of technology and with a zeal to solve hardships that come along their way.

There is a thrust on infrastructure projects such as the Dedicated Freight Corridors, port modernization, construction of greenfield airports, etc., which will create fresh employment opportunities. It is estimated that the total workforce will increase to over 31 million by 2025 generating an additional requirement across all modes of transportation and other related infrastructure areas. As a result, the government and associated stakeholders, including sector skill councils, training institutions, and logistic firms will need to ramp up their education and training capacity to cater to the growing needs of the sector.

But this journey isn’t a path of roses.

The supply chain industry is equally subject to global geopolitical machinations as it is to the countless disruptions that threaten to tip the industry’s balance. Adding to this, there is practically minimum to no formal education and training in the country to address the skill gap in the logistics sector.

The growth of India’s supply chain industry has been nothing short of phenomenal in the last few years. And this has not just been a ‘vertical’ but ‘horizontal’ growth as well. The dynamic landscape that now exists demands a never-before number of professionals with qualifications in supply chain management, warehousing, and transportation management.

The logistics sector seeks experts who can optimize operations and navigate the complexities of a vast and diverse country. Simplifying this beautifully, Dr Aditya Gupta (Chief Operating Officer, Supply Chain
Management Center, IIM Bengaluru) says, “The industry is just looking for bright young kids who want to make a career in the industry.”

On the other hand, N Sivasailam (IAS (Retd.) and Former Special Secretary (Logistics) Government of India) gives us an elaborate idea of what the industry demands in terms of education. Apart from e-commerce, and warehousing, some other certifications/qualifications that are in demand include cold-chain management, truck driving as a profession, business process management through e-documents, etc., and are reasonably high paying too.

“There is also a great latent demand for certifications in various other trades where the lack of proper curriculum development and certification is hurting both the demand and the supply side. In my view, this would be facilitated at the graduate level and post-graduate level, for lower management and mid-management level jobs, wherein a choice of ‘logistics elective’ will help to make an immediate impact. The fillip for this needs to be proactive industry support for apprenticeship/internship and campus recruitment,” he mentions.

With another perspective of ‘what’s in demand?’, B. Govindarajan (Chief Operating Officer, Tirwin Management Services) adds, “What is in great demand is competencybased training and assessment for dangerous goods by air, IMDG code for maritime, lithium battery handling procedures, perishable and pharma handing procedures, INCOM terms, etc.”

Despite the industry’s growth, India faces challenges in logistics efficiency. Infrastructure bottlenecks, suboptimal transportation networks, and a shortage of skilled professionals have hindered the sector’s full potential. The lack of formalized logistics education has led to a gap in expertise and best practices.

This lack of acknowledgment fuels the belief that people in the field are undervalued, which in turn deters people from considering it as their major career choice – especially those with notable aptitude. Instead, it becomes a last resort choice for a lot of people. The business and public sectors need to emphasize the importance of valuing their human resources to overcome this issue. Undoubtedly, doing so will draw talent of a higher grade, leveraging the abundant talent pool of India.” – Dr. Surendra Ahirwar (Joint Secretary – Logistics, DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce and Industry)

This is an abridged version of the Special Feature Story published in the December 2023 issue of Logistics Insider magazine. To read the complete story, click here.

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