Upskilling in India’s Automotive R&D Industry

Advancements in technology and consumer expectations have made learning new skills an important priority for India’s engineers.

July 2021 , by Alexandra Santiago

Despite a 26% decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s automotive industry is projecting a positive outlook for the coming fiscal year. According to AutoCar India, a total of 12 million units across the passenger vehicle, two-wheeler, and three-wheeler segments were sold in June 2021, with SUV sales growing by over 320% compared to the first quarter of the year. 

But it’s not only vehicle sales that are bolstering the recovery of the industry—India’s tech automotive R&D market is also paving the way for growth, with a 17% CAGR rise in automotive electronics sales from USD 6 billion in 2020 to a projected USD 18 billion by 2027, according to Eletimes.  

Technology and digital solutions are changing the landscape of the auto industry across the world, and consumers—especially those who purchase from the premium automotive segment—now expect the latest safety and communication features in their automobiles. This has led to the urgent need for automotive engineers to be proficient in more technologies through upskilling, and different business players within the sector to prioritize this need financially. 

A Changing Automotive Landscape 
Upskilling is defined as, according to Forbes, an individual learning a new skill. In a macro business context, however, it also means a foundational shift within a workplace due to technology. With the global industry shifting towards a more digital-based supply chain framework, upskilling the current automotive workforce in India is crucial to ensure that the local industry can stay competitive with the worldwide market.   

R&D in India’s automotive industry is a priority area for engineer upskilling, as the global industry moves away from traditional manufacturing due to the rise of Western automotive makers like Tesla, which prioritizes automation and innovation. Automotive engineers now find themselves challenged to be proficient in new skills such as AI, machine learning, robotics, and Internet of Things (IoT)—and educating themselves on these new technologies is made even more difficult due to COVID-19 restrictions.  

Competition is also fierce, as global automotive companies like Continental AG, Volvo, Bosch, and Mercedes-Benz—firms with large R&D and manufacturing facilities in India—are already seeking more tech-savvy engineers to join their teams.  

Opportunities for Growth 
Fortunately, India also has a very strong network of associations and automotive start-ups eager to ensure that the workforce adapts well to global Industry 4.0 standards. The Automotive Skills Development Council (ASDC), in particular, is working on developing online-only modules to conduct digital training with local engineers and mechanics. 

Automotive companies themselves are also taking the initiative to help educate their workforce. Maruti Suzuki, Toyota, Volvo, and Continental AG have set up internal training centers to teach legacy workers new skills. Start-ups also have the unique opportunity to fill the gap—such as the case of Machenn Innovations, a local start-up that offers industry training online for engineering students to easily find high-paying jobs in automotive and aerospace engineering.  

The online realm provides a new way for industry stakeholders to reach out to the workforce and help bring the country’s automotive sector into the future. Business partners for online classes, employment portals, and skill building are now in demand and can potentially accelerate the evolution of the industry.  

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