Investing in people – India’s last hurdle to world dominance
Thursday, November 25, 2010 - 03:14
I have spent the last week in India with our Partner organisation Cotmac and each time I come back I see the rising tide of change and expansion. It is exciting to be involved with such a vibrant culture and to be part of the necessary skills development to support quality education and training. If the 19th Century was Great Britain’s time to shine and the 20th Century’s torch bearer the United States, the 21st Century almost certainly heralds the dawn of global dominance by India and China. With more than a third of the world’s population living between these two countries and a rising global consumerism driving demand for their products and services, it appears that the new world order will have a decidedly eastern feel. But who will win the race to hold the mantle of number one? This is simple. It will be the country which invests in its people first. Economic liberalism and relaxation of trade barriers can only take you so far. Without a robust system for skills development and a commitment to authentic application of these skills, the long term competitiveness and productivity of business is not guaranteed. As we turn to India, with its high tech-savvy, youth population and a widening middle class with an appetite for consumer items, we will soon see the pressure for wages to increase. Further to this, the costs of attracting and retaining talent will also rise exponentially. When labour is cheap and plentiful, it is simply a matter of going back to the well if it doesn’t work the first time. However, this is no longer a truism as the skills required become more sophisticated and the expectations on consistency from an international market intensify. The key to success is in the training. Not only will training get people working at their best, it will motivate them to work harder because their organisations have shown loyalty in them by investing in their development. The real challenge is getting the established hierarchy within these organisations to sign off on the training reforms and acknowledge that what they have done to date has got them to where they are, but if they want to be world beaters in the future, a new approach is necessary.