Ashwini Walawalkar

Building the blue-collar workforce of tomorrow, today | Ashwini Walawalkar | Country Head | Technique Control Facility Management

Ashwini WalawalkarThe future of our blue-collar workforce depends largely on the strength of the learning and development structures within an organization. Blue collar workers act as the indispensable backbone for any organization. India is a nation with an estimated 300 million blue collar workers, but there remains a lack of skilling programs and institutes that would enable our country to grow economically and socially.

Re-skilling and upskilling are vital to avoid inertia in blue collar employee growth, particularly as it qualifies them to work across a diverse range of sectors. As the Facilities Management (FM) Sector continues to rapidly grow and evolve, it offers a gamut of new opportunities for the blue-collar workforce. To be able to seamlessly adapt with sudden advancements in technology and other forms of digitization, learning and development must take the front seat in the midst of this industry-wide transformation.

A modernist approach to skilling

The burgeoning FM sector is one of the largest employers of the blue-collar workforce, presenting members from all walks of life with an opportunity to work in a safe and organized sector. The industry has heavily invested in training and skilling their workforce, equipping them with the know-how to understand and deploy tools, tackles, and technologies.

While there is emphasis on the technical or “hard” side in training, employees today have access to quality soft-skill training, which allows them to smoothly fit within modern workspaces and industries. Across the FM industry, diverse skillsets are needed for jobs including janitors, housekeepers, technicians, security, gardeners and more. To ensure that these ground-level workers are as proficient as possible, we should take a modernist approach towards skilling – interventions that would make them more adept and aligned to new developments within the sector. As organizations focus on upskilling, invest in their learning and create opportunities for growth, employees in turn feel empowered. This drive to reach their fullest potential results in increased retention and job fulfillment.

Building a consistent process requires an encouraging and adaptive approach that personalizes employee-company interactions, encourages self-expression, offers mentoring-coaching-training opportunities and enables workers to track their own growth through data analysis. Finally, it recognizes the intent, and welcomes the effort with timely rewards and incentive plans for blue-collar workers. Strengthening skill enhancement frameworks not
only improves the existing skills of employees but also bolsters their role in the organization, adding overall value to the organization.

Building a future-ready workforce

Upskilling and re-skilling employees creates a more complete, cross-trained workforce, and greatly increases their overall efficiency. In line with ESG goals, this adds to prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), while also integrating positive change in the workplace. By updating and retraining the workforce with collaborative learning opportunities, easily accessible cross training, and investment in digital and innovative learning, organizations gain a competitive advantage en route to becoming future-proof entities.

When companies invest in upskilling their employees, they are not only able to respond to urgent needs, but also keep up with current technology trends and fill corresponding skills gaps. In our current economic climate, it is critical that businesses train existing employees to fill anticipated skills gap to meet future needs. Maintaining a culture of continuous learning will allow organizations to ride out any possible disruptions and emerge atop their competitors.

By tracking current and future skill needs, maintaining competency models, and assessing employee skills, organizations can create new skill development programs tailored to the exigencies of employees and the company, effectively developing the future workforce. Giving employees the skills that they need to perform their jobs effectively will create a happier and more productive workforce, which is critical to achieving desired results for the organization. Thanks to these initiatives, employees will be more aware of developments and advancements in the industry, fostering a deeper understanding of the organization and business. By developing a skilling strategy that encourages continuous learning through collaboration, employers can build workforces of the future, driving innovation and excellence in tandem.