Ashish Khanna, MD & CEO, Tata Power Solar on Workforce Development

Ashish Khanna

Ashish Khanna, MD, Tata Power Solar and President, Tata Power – Renewables

A skilled workforce is a crucial element that contributes to a vibrant industry, something that is true for the renewable energy industry in the country too. Lack of skilled manpower has been identified as one of the most prominent challenges for the sector. So workforce development is an essential and ongoing process for any organization to thrive. Before we dig deeper into issue we must first understand what the term ‘workforce’ means.

A workforce can be defined as the people engaged in or available for work, either in a country, area or in a particular organization or industry. It includes not only the total number of people employed in the armed forces as well as the civilian jobs but, also the unemployed people who are seeking a paying job. In short, everyone eligible for, and keen to work.

Workforce development is considered to be an interconnected set of plans and strategies that an organization internally formulates to meet employment needs. It may include the following:

  • Changes to culture
  • Changes to behavior
  • Changes to attitude
  • Changes to potential; etc.

All these above mentioned factors act as a force in driving the organization towards a positive influence that enables the achievement of business’ future success.

Workforce is also often interlinked with employee development and is a vital pillar in business growth.

Workforce development is achieved by first and foremost, preparing workers with the specific types of skills necessary for a specific type of job.

Tata Power – Renewables

Some of the major emerging technologies that can be taken into consideration while working towards development of workforce are:

1. Business Intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) is a technology driven process for analyzing data and presenting actionable information to help executives, managers and other corporate end users make informed business decisions. In retail industries, this is a type of forecast that is essential when it comes to making decisions regarding the appointment of the right people during seasonal hiring.

2. Cloud Technology

Cloud technology is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage and computing power, without direct active management by the user. If an organization is planning to adopt digitization, cloud technology is a must. It makes data storage much more affordable, practical, and hassle-free, and perhaps even more secure.

3. Mobility in Workplace

Workplace mobility might just be the biggest positive revolution impacting workforce development of businesses of all sizes. Although it is highly dependent on the economic standing of the company, mobility enables employees to work productively in a way that goes well with their lifestyle and saves more time.

4. Production Studio Technology

Production Studio Technology enables employees to package and deliver content such as sales collateral or internal presentations in new and innovative ways, with tools such as videos, podcasts, infographics and nextgen presentation software. This empowers employees to be more creative in their efforts to lead, sell and influence by breaking out of the PowerPoint jail. Introducing these technology tools can also result in achieving behavioral changes among the employees by making the work process more interesting and eliminating mundane monotony.

5. Virtual Personal Assistants (VPA’s)

VPAs will gradually and affirmatively become more common as technology improves, and employees grow more comfortable with them outside of work. At the moment, assistants such as Cortana, Siri, Google Now and Echo are being used mostly for data retrieval and basic tasks, but within a couple years VPAs will proactively initiate and conclude complex business processes on the behalf of the employee with negligible oversight required. This will result in a great deal of time saving and cost cutting with minimal efforts.

Global renewable energy employment reached 10.3 million jobs in the recent time, an increase of 5.3% compared with the number reported in the previous year. Even as many more countries derive socio economic benefits of RE, employment remains highly concentrated in a handful of countries, with China, Brazil, United States,

India, Germany and Japan in the lead. It has been proved that every form of renewable energy is healthier for the environment and for people. Gratifyingly, even employees in the sector encounter healthier workplaces. Studies have shown that employees involved in the solar industry have healthier workplaces simply because they are not exposed to the toxic compounds that coal mines or gas plants release on a daily basis (not to mention the workers in the nuclear energy sector).

China alone accounts for 43% of all renewable energy jobs. Its share is particularly high in solar heating and cooling (83%) and in the solar power sector (66%). While expansion took place in China and India, the United States, Japan and the European Union lost jobs.

This concentration of jobs can be attributed to the fact that the bulk of manufacturing takes place in relatively few countries and domestic markets vary enormously in size. For India, where annual Solar Power plant installations have fluctuated in recent years, the employment-factor calculation suggests that the country may have seen an impact full growth in the renewable energy sector.

Workplaces are changing rapidly. Due to this dynamic nature, the experts are driven to develop innovative ways to educate and prepare the populace to meet the demands of an increasingly global economy. A large portion of the population remains yet unemployed, while the gap between the technical skills acquired by the workers and those needed by the industries continues to grow.

However, engagement is also a hurdle that many managers have yet to figure out and/ or address. It is impacted by the tools the employees are using (mobility), how they are trained, whether they feel acknowledged, and most importantly, are they content with the current position they hold.

Thus, it is safe to state that workforce development deserves the priority for the government and society as a whole. It deserves the best tools, i.e., modern technology and equipment to enable the organizations to achieve their goals with ease.

Every employee in Tata Power Renewables is feeling a sense of optimism at the opportunities that have now become available to us. The quality of the work we do today will be our legacy to the nation and epitomize the values of Tata Group.

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