Sep 24, 2008

HR - India;Traditional firms going the non-traditional way

According to the latest Mckinsey report, only 10 per cent generalist graduates in India are employable. To add to the woes of the energy sector, there are issues of ageing workforce, talent scarcity and dearth of good academic institutes. This has forced many oil and gas companies, including PSUs, to become proactive and adopt innovative methods to build a robust workforce.“The industry attrition rate stands at 20 per cent. Moreover, there is a paucity of talent at both upstream (oil and gas exploration) and downstream (refining) levels,” notes Dr. Sujaya Banerjee, chief learning officer, Essar. “Given this, it is critical that we take charge and enhance the capabilities of the existing industry workforce by constant training,” Banerjee asserts. As per a study conducted by consultant firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, the need for trained geoscientists for exploration operations alone is pegged at 6,181 over the next five years. The shortfall will be about 2,844 geoscientists

Add to this, the overall gap between availability and requirement of trained energy industry manpower in India which is projected to be about 36,000 by 2019. “Professionals like geoscience experts, drillers and project managers are between far and few,” Banerjee stresses. “Plus, it’s a challenge to attract manpower from same talent pools as IT, FMCG etc,” Banerjee adds. ”Given the complex nature of our sector, it is pivotal that we train and re-train our workforce,” notes Preeti Mathur, head-academy , ONGC. “Training is needed across levels and functions, for executive and nonexecutive employees,” says Mathur. ONGC has educational tie-ups with four regional technical institutes (RTIs) wherein they provide training on technical and soft skills. While for their executive employees they run basic, advanced and specialised courses which are conducted both onfield and over-seas .

What is truly innovative is the E-learning academy ‘Gyandhara’ that ONGC has launched in partnership with global oil and gas industry leaders OPITO, Atlas interactive Ltd and an Indian IT Training firm 24x7 Learning. “In today’s digital age, when technology is at your beck and call, adopting latest tools like E-learning is imperative,” Mathur comments. “We can reach many of our workers at the remotest of locations effortlessly,” she adds. Interestingly, ONGC is the first PSU across sectors to introduce an elearning academy. Elaborating on this, Mathur says, “We are aiming at enrolling 1,010 employees this year in Gyandhara through self-nominations and advice from the management.” A Rs. 2 crore worth initiative, there’s no man-day attached to this online academy. “It’s a flexi-time program which can be done in a year’s timespan ,” Mathur chips in. Similarly, Essar has a few interesting, fairly innovative training and development initiatives. One such initiative is the ‘Learning Greenhouse ’ under which they have set up seven libraries in different centres.

These seven libraries have a wide range of books which the employees can read and refer to. “We also have a learning tree which is basically our library allied activity calendar. Under this, we have book exhibitions, books collection drive i.e. employees donating books etc,” Banerjee points out. HPCL is yet another firm which has adopted some unconventional means and measures of up-skilling and reskilling their employees. The firm inducted a team of internal coaches from various strategic business units (SBUs) to bring in a culture of learning. “To create engaged employees – we needed people to be people sensitive and therefore, designed workshops and long term interventions to build Emotionally Intelligent Leaders,” notes Ashis Sen, internal coach, HPCL. So what are the biggest benefits of investing so much on employee training? “The clear take-away are higher employee engagement, stronger employer branding and retention,” Banerjee replies promptly. “After all good talent begets good talent,” she concludes. Clearly, these firms which were once seen as the staid, traditional players are proving there is more to them than meets the eye!

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