New Delhi: The ministry of defence has tied up with a retail school to train about-to-retire officers and other military personnel for retail jobs in an effort to place them in the country’s booming retail sector.
The Director General of Resettlement (DGR), a government body that helps about-to-retire servicemen find jobs, has tied up with the New Delhi-based Indian Retail School to train officers and soldiers through a 12-week retail management programme.
The officers will be trained for management-level jobs in retail firms and DGR will bear 40% of the course fee of Rs50,000 that they will have to pay.
Others will be trained for junior positions and DGR will foot the entire course fee of Rs21,500.
DRG proposes to train 400 servicemen for retail jobs this year in an initiative that could cost around Rs80 lakh.
Every year, almost 5,000 officers—aged between 35 and 50—and 60,000 other personnel retire from the three wings of the armed forces. DGR trains between 10,000 and 15,000 of them in various courses to enable them to find jobs in the corporate sector. The agency has already tied up with business schools such as the Indian Institutes of Management at Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Indore and Lucknow, and XLRI, Jamshedpur, for 24-week master of business administration (MBA) programmes that are offered to about-to-retire officers.
More than a thousand officers have gone through this programme and been hired by various private sector companies, according to DGR.
“There are some inherent qualities for which people from the army background are well known. (For example) discipline, loyalty to the organization and adaptability—we adapt ourselves pretty well to the situation,” said Group Captain Rajesh Sobti, director of training at DGR.
According to India Retail Report 2007, a joint report put out by various retail and real estate consultancy firms, the industry will create 2.5 million jobs by 2010.
The retail market, currently valued at $300 billion (Rs12.3 trillion) a year, is seeing an unprecedented rush of big-ticket investments by business houses such as Reliance Industries Ltd, Tata Group, Aditya Birla Group, Wadia Group and Bharti Enterprises Ltd.
Experts say the sector is facing an acute shortage of manpower at the managerial level as there are not enough people with the requisite experience in organized retailing. And attrition levels are on the rise. For instance, McDonald’s Corp.’s India unit has an attrition level of more than 80%, according to Vikram Bakshi, managing director of McDonald’s local unit.
Hiring retired army will help lower attrition level for modern retailers, said Sobti. “We are not (known for) hopping from one job to another,” he added.
Most of the 60,000 non-officer-level servicemen that retire each year come from smaller towns and rural areas. They will likely make ideal employees as modern retailers spread their businesses to smaller towns and the countryside, according to an executive at Indian Retail School. “They are getting an opportunity to work in their hometowns which they have been longing to for ages,” said N.K. Panday of the Indian Retail School.
Panday said many of the servicemen had experience that could come in handy in retail: some have managed supplies on ships; and others have worked in canteens operated by the army, the air force, or the navy.