About 400 agents working for the Andhra Pradesh government regularly scour the state’s countryside looking for unemployed youth who can be enrolled for state-sponsored job-oriented courses. The most popular course is retail management.
“We take rural youth from remote and interior areas, from socially and economically under-privileged families,” says Meera Shenoy, executive director of Employment Generation and Marketing Mission (EGMM) in Hyderabad that operates several rural retail academies. “Retail companies are not able to get youth because in urban areas there is competition from technology and outsourcing companies.”
In a bid to supply manpower to India’s booming organized retail sector institutes, government agencies and even non-profit groups are stepping in. Huge investment plans by home-grown and foreign retailers are fuelling a great demand for people with basic skills in organized retailing. Consultancy firm Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd says the country’s modern retailers will create more than two million direct jobs in the next five years. Reliance Industries Ltd said it will need more than a million direct and indirect people by 2010 to staff its stores and its allied logistics operations.
Currently, only 50,000-100,000 people possess skills in modern retail trade.
On the job:Retail chain Subhiksha hires the youth and provides themin-house training for a week before deploying them in stores.
“There is no shortage of people in this country,” says Shashi Kanth, president, human resources, Subhiksha Trading Services Ltd, a discount retail chain. Subhiksha hires the youth and provides in-house training to them for a week before deploying them in stores.
The retail sector is even attracting retiring soldiers. The director general of resettlement, a group under the defence ministry that helps about-to-retire soldiers find jobs, has tied up with New Delhi-based Indian School of Retail for retail management courses that will be offered to army, navy and air force personnel. Also, several private schools providing retail courses have sprung up in recent months and many of them have tied up modern retailers to supply manpower.
Retailers are in talks with institutes such as the Indira Gandhi National Open University, but also with NGOs such as Dr Reddy’s Foundation, Smile Foundation and Youth Reach India to help them find and train people.
Dr Reddy’s Foundation started a three-four month retail sales management programme four months ago and has so far trained around 70 students in two batches in Hyderabad and Bangalore. It plans to launch its programme in other major cities in coming months.
Most trainees are hired instantly. “In fact the percentage of placement is very high… It’s about 90-92%,” says Shenoy.
The Andhra government has trained about 5,000 village youth since its programme launched in November 2006. EGMM gives Rs1,500 to everyone who finishes the course—a sort of grant to help them find their feet in the first year. EGMM says it is encouraged by the response from retailers and that it plans to introduce more specialized courses. Shenoy says, “We are looking at training for accountants, cashier, billing staff.”