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Workforce in India: Getting to the Core of the Matter

By APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi CSCP, CPA, CAE - April 05, 2013

As I touch down in Mumbai, India, to prepare for APICS Asia Supply Chain & Operations 2013, I’m intrigued by something I read on the Wall Street Journal website: “Ronnie Screwvala’s Big Plan for Rural India.” It’s a part of a regular section the Journal features on the country called “India Real Time: The daily pulse of the world’s largest democracy.”

The blog post describes a recent meeting in suburban Mumbai, in which men learned about the Swades Foundation, a nonprofit organization started by Walt Disney India’s Managing Director Ronnie Screwvala. The group heard about how Swades is working to get rural villages access to water, basic sanitation, health care, and education. By doing this, the organization aims to prevent migration out of these rural villages and entice workers to build their own businesses locally or take up coordinated agriculture efforts with higher yields.

The blog quotes Screwvala: “If India is looking to become one of the top three economies globally, can we actually achieve that without the 600 million people who live in rural India,” he says. “Rural India lives in a different time warp and will continue to do so … Unless we fix rural India, we can’t be a rocking economy.”

By contrast, McKinsey’s 2012 report “Manufacturing the Future” suggests that in developing countries, such as India, “manufacturing will continue to provide a pathway to higher living standards.” No matter what your point of view, it is clear India faces significant challenges, which directly and indirectly influence manufacturing and its workforce.

Consider the following facts:
  • India’s many different trade policies and education systems, combined with youth migration, and unorganized workforces prevent a single, national manufacturing work environment. This complicates supply chain formation and manufacturing growth.
  • While the Indian economy is growing, poverty still is prevalent. Gross income per capita hovered around $3,285 in 2012, according to the United Nations. (By comparison, China’s per capita income was about $7,945. The US per capita income average is $43,480.) To improve living standards, India needs to further growth.
  • The United Nations also reports high gender disparities persist throughout South Asia, including in India. Gender imbalances continue in educational achievement and in labor force participation.

Live from Mumbai

By the time you read this, I will have already led the workforce panel discussion that opens the APICS Asia 2013 conference. At a later date, I’ll share with you some of the thoughts of the panelists and audience members. However, in my travels to places such as China, Japan, Mexico, and here in India, I’ve been able to directly witness how supply chain professionals are seizing the opportunities created in this increasingly global marketplace. Therefore, the workforce development challenge is important for all professionals to contemplate. I invite you to reflect and share your own ideas.

Questions for discussion

In other news

Related APICS education

  • The Power of Communication
    By John P. Collins, CFPIM, CSCP, and Eric P. Jack, PhD, CFPIM, CSCP
    September/October 2012, APICS magazine

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