5 Reasons to Upskill Your Blue-Collar & frontline Employees



The discourse around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in business highlights its societal and economic benefits, with a diverse work culture driving innovation and financial gains. For instance, a 2018 BCG study found that companies with higher diversity scores saw a 19% increase in revenues from innovation.

However, achieving diversity requires fostering an inclusive culture where every employee, including blue-collar & frontline workers, can thrive. Upskilling plays a key role in this, offering a path to equity by enabling strategic and innovative problem-solving and narrowing skill gaps within companies, emphasizing the importance of inclusive growth strategies in India.

1. Addressing the Talent Shortage

The rise of tech platforms, startups, and e-commerce has significantly increased job opportunities for blue-collar & frontline workers. The economic rebound and vaccination drives have further boosted labor demand across various sectors since 2021. Despite this, a skill gap persists, with over 69% of global employers, and specifically 79.8% in India, struggling to find skilled labor.

In the Indian blue-collar & frontline  segment, a significant reason for this demand-supply gap has been the en masse migration of workers to their hometowns during the 2020 lockdown. Companies cannot find resources locally, with workers sceptical about further waves of the virus impacting their lives. Given these problems, upskilling and cross-skilling is important to reduce the cost of hiring. Instilling new skills in existing workers, who are already familiar with the company’s policies and procedures, can be an effective solution.

2. Building a Future-Ready Enterprise

Covid-19 has demonstrated the importance of building resilient organisations. While there have been many discussions about the advent of technology to transform workplaces, companies at the same time lack the expertise to implement drastic shifts.

Demand for skilled workers will continue to rise with the advancement in technologies like automation and robotics. Companies will have to invest in these technologies to maintain a competitive edge, and stay relevant.

These new-age roles will require a certain level of literacy in digital skills to manage intelligent workflows. There will also be the need for skilled workers to oversee operations, and maintain and repair new machines. It is up to the companies to train workers for the future. Apart from technical skills, workers will need various other skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, creativity, collaboration, and emotional intelligence among others. According to the World Economic Forum, traditional learning will not be able to impart these critical skills to survive in the 21st century.

Going forward these skills will be extremely important, given that Covid-19 has forces global digitalisation and automation at a pace never seen before.

3.Increasing Engagement and Retention

Providing skill training accessible to all levels and backgrounds enhances fairness within an organization. By fostering an inclusive culture, companies find it easier to attract and keep talented individuals. Over 75% of workers globally want to work for organisations that make efforts to create a positive impact in society, with 90% of them belonging to India.

Training blue-collar workers, who come from low-income and often below poverty lines is indeed a step towards creating societal impact. Offering structured training to blue-colla & frontline r workers from lower economic backgrounds not only addresses educational disparities but also increases their skill diversity, morale, and productivity, making a substantial societal impact.

4.Important in Driving Sustainability Initiatives

Stakeholders including investors, consumers, and regulatory bodies are increasingly prioritizing transparency in environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG) matters from companies. In the wake of the pandemic, adherence to Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) standards in workplaces is expected to become standard practice.

This new focus necessitates that blue-collar and gig workers keep up with evolving standards, driving the need for comprehensive upskilling programs related to critical compliance policies and the establishment of systematic performance measurement structures.

NSDC and Apna app sign MoU to provide professional networking platform to  blue-collar workers, ETHRWorld

5.Contributing to Economic Growth

Be it medicine, law, or engineering, Indians have excelled when it comes to technical expertise on the global stage. However, 90% of India’s workforce is in the informal sector, and as per research, they are trapped in a vicious circle. Lack of formal employment means they have no incentives to acquire new skills, and with a critical demand-supply gap in the market, companies choose to replace them with sophisticated machines. This leads to even fewer formal sector jobs for them, and no opportunities for growth.

Many workers go back to agricultural jobs in the off-season, as they lack skills that can raise their employability in the industrial or service sector. If they have the right skills, they can be absorbed into other sectors, and contribute to their households efficiently.

Upskilling initiatives thus have the power to drive economic expansion. Globally, it can lead to the creation of 5.3 million net new jobs, and in India, it can provide a 0.4% relative boost to the employment rate by 2030. Upskilling with a purpose thus leads to lowering of inequality, and it needs to start at the individual organisation level.