INDIA: Logistics has been my area of work for the past decade and a half and there has been a great deal of improvement that has happened in India in the logistics segment since the time I have started in this industry. One thing, however, that has not changed much is the quality of skilled work force. This has been a problem for over last one and a half decades and continues to ail this sector. When I look at it, there are two areas that need to be addressed and focussed upon to make a better future. One of these areas is the quality of education and the other is the quantum of research. Let us understand what does this mean, and how does it create structural changes.
A quick search on Google will give a good indication of the status of logistics education in India. None of the Top Schools in India offer a course which addresses the educational needs of this sector. The core education segment in the top B-Schools still remains in the field of Finance, Marketing, Strategy, Operations, and Human Resource Management. Logistics is one of the sub-segments in Operations but schools mostly skip out on this vital industry. Now, the schools are not to be blamed for this. I think we, as a collective work force, have not been able to press upon the importance of this sector. We have been working with make-shift arrangements, training people on the job, improvising the industry with experience and moving ahead in the best possible manner keeping the limitations in mind. 2018 report of World Bank on Logistics Performance Index places India at 44th position with Germany leading the way. Two major factors that have hampered the index measure are Infrastructure, with a rank of 52, and Timelines, with a rank of 52, again. We are still to improve on other aspects as well. For sake of our discussion, we, however, focus on the rank in Logistics Competence where India ranks at 40, a direct reflection on our capabilities as a work force. While Infrastructure and Timelines, which are somewhat interconnected, are mammoth tasks given the size of the country, we can do well to focus on the Logistics Competence part of the index. Table below shows our ranks into various segments as measured by World Bank:
Our competence was ranked best in 2007, which is fair indication of the improvement needed in this area. B-Schools would do a great deal of good for the country by introducing courses which aim to give a more in-depth understanding of Logistics as an industry.
Our second area of improvement is the Research in this segment. It is only obvious that devoid of real focus, research will suffer too. That is what is the current state of RnD in this industry. Again, there are companies and some institutes like CII, which are focusing on research but some of the premium colleges need to step up the pace as well. CII was set up in 2004, a time when it was very well recognised that logistics needs more brain power for its growth. 2004 to 2020, we have seen CII being the flag bearer with not many joining the marathon that CII is running on its own. It is time that more institutes rally behind the cause and amplify the outcome. A good idea could be that the institutes establish tie ups with some of the leading Indian logistics firms and with some of the logistics leaders of the country to do the root cause study for further research work that needs to be done in this industry. A panel of industry leaders and academicians, jointly under the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Road Transport, would be a great first step in this direction. CII could head the panel and establish its objectives which can make logistics much easier in the coming times.
Overall, there is a reasonable development that has happened in India and with the quick digitization happening across the retails sector, there is a need to push faster streamlining of logistics as a sector. There is a reasonable demand for talent, however, the gap between demand and supply is substantial. This gap needs to be addressed on multiple fronts, but to begin with, we can start the process of structural makeover of the logistics education segment in itself. This will provide the fundamental strength needed to fasten the process of evolution.
This article is written by Vishwa Deepak Dikshit, Logistics Leader with over 15 years of experience. He is an alumnus of MDI Gurgaon (batch 2007-09).