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Retailers test headhunters for skills

business Updated: Oct 07, 2012 22:35 IST
Himani Chandna Gurtoo

The decision to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail has suddenly spurred action in the placement market. Recruitment firms are busy estimating the size of workforce required and though availability does not seem to be a problem, acute absence of skills mandatory to match global standards is likely to be a cause for concern.

According to the Indian Staffing Federation (ISF), the flexi-staffing industry body, placement firms are under pressure to find affordable staff with right skills. “Global retail giants have expressed their demand to various local headhunters and liaison houses but the mandatory requirement is skilled labour even for the lower position jobs,” said Rituparna Chakraborty, founder ISF, and vice-president, TeamLease Services.

However, grey areas remain. For instance, Indian workers are not trained to understand the store profitability concept or analysis of stock sales trends.

According to industry estimates, multinational giants such as Wal-Mart and Carrefour spend around 2% of revenue on training their staff whereas Indian companies have no such budget. “In India, training budget is most vulnerable to economic fluctuations. It is the first one to lose place,” said Aditya Mishra, chairman at Ma Foi Randstad, a staffing company.

However, headhunters and training schools are busy chalking out a way ahead. While ISF is in talks with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to encourage skill development, talent schools such as Asian Retail Institute are shaping up various new courses that are still not available in India. These include management information system, sales management and trends, fond farewell techniques, supply chain and warehousing management.

“Indian retailers have never understood the trade-off between training cost and the organisation’s profitability,” said Namita Jain, president, Asian retail Institute. “After the advent of FDI, we should be ready to follow the model furnished by US-based National Retail Federation if we plan to impress the foreign retailers.”