Even when faced with challenges of connectivity and bandwidth, companies across sectors embraced digital training or learning and development (L&D) for blue collar staff, which witnessed from nearly nothing to double fold growth, as the pandemic fast tracked adoption of technology by two decades, says experts.
Specific to blue collared staff, the thinking was always that they will not be able to learn effectively using technology. Covid-19 has shattered all such assumptions. Many organisations are using digital learning tools to continuously engage with their blue collared employees as they are doing with their white collared employees, TeamLease Services Senior Vice-President Neeti Sharma told PTI. However, she said there are few challenges like connectivity and bandwidth that continue to exist as the single largest challenge while the blue-collar staff were in their hometowns.
Focus on upskilling
The other key challenge now that the blue-collar staff is coming back to workplaces is to provide them relevant infrastructure and time for learning, she said adding that for employers, creating a balance between productivity at the workplace as well continuous learning is important but not often easy. Many companies in the Industrial Engineering, logistics and essential retail sectors have adopted technology led L&D for their blue-collar staff, she said.
She said that many also focussed on upskilling their existing workforce, initially for health and safety measures that need to be followed at workplaces due to the pandemic.
Adoption of technology for skilling in the manufacturing industry has moved up by almost 50-60 per cent over the last two months. We believe that VILT (Virtual Instructor Led Training) is here to stay and will become an integral form of learning in the future, she opined.
Further, CIER HR Services Aditya Mishra said that usage of technology for training blue collars is a boon to overcome the geographical barriers, establish standardisation and consistency in delivery and thereby improve quality, reduce cost and generate more value for the business.
Our estimate is that we will see the contribution of digital learning in the overall L&D efforts of organisations will increase from the current levels of 0-20 per cent to 30-60 per cent among blue-collar segment over the next 3-5 years, he stated.
The most common challenges employers face during digital training of the blue-collar staff are fewer tools, distracted learners, gaining learners’ confidence, staying up-to-date with modern technology and subject matter experts with no prior instructional design knowledge, he pointed out.
A major challenge
He said, balancing tight e-learning budgets, designing e-learning courses for different generations and finding the perfect e-learning authoring tool or learning platform were also challenges face by the organisations giving training to blue collar employees. Sectors who have started adoption of technology in L&D in training blue-collar staff are manufacturing, healthcare, retail and e-commerce, finance and construction, he said.
He said, since companies have now begun to adapt to the new normal, outsourcing or hiring experts for the digital training of employees is expected to increase.
Global job site Indeed India Managing Director Sashi Kumar said traditionally, organisations have focused more strongly on training their white-collar employees.
However, this situation has been rapidly changing in recent years, and companies are giving the L&D needs of their blue-collar workforce the attention they deserve and are actively investing in resources that will upskill their blue-collar workers in a wide range of areas, he opined.
Companies need to bear in mind that several blue-collar workers might not be well-versed or even introduced to these new-age technologies, he said.
Also, as companies move to virtual platforms to train their workforce, access to devices and connectivity might pose a major challenge in training them, he said.
Going forward, organisations will need to be more invested and inclusive in their efforts to train blue collared workforces for the jobs of the future, he added.