The lockdown announced in India to curb the virus was one of the longest in the world, and as a result, millions of migrant workers were forced to make their way back home, having lost their livelihood in cities. With power designated as an essential service by the government, power generators in the country have been ordered to maintain an uninterrupted supply of power across states. The Power Sector Skill Council (PSSC) has been playing a key role in bridging the skill gap between supply and demand. R.P. Singh, chief executive officer, PSSC shares his thoughts on how Covid-19 has impacted the organisation and jobs in the industry,PSSC’s initiatives towards the achievement of the Skill India Mission, as well as the strategies and steps taken in managing the Covid crisis. Excerpts…
What have been the challenges in ensuring continuous skill development in the present scenario? How are these being addressed by PSSC?
It has been a very tough time for every sector and especially for skilling. E-learning is the only solution to this crisis but most of our target group being low paid workmen in the unorganised sector, there were difficulties being felt in implementing e-learning initiatives. Distribution of hard copies in the person’s own language and then interacting for problem solving only is useful. PSSC, in collaboration with Management Sector Skill Council (MEPSC), has successfully commenced a special training program for Master Trainers – Training of Master Trainers (ToMT) on enhancing the training delivery skills.
Our efforts are therefore directed towards ensuring resumption of the skill delivery with the application of distant and remote methods using online training delivery techniques. What is however challenging in the context of skill development is the fact that skilling is about acquisition of proficiency with practical and on the job exposure. We are attempting to offer the next best experience with the application of audio visual and auditory simulation based training. We are planning to take it to the next level with the application of augmented reality and virtual reality techniques. Hopefully these emerging technologies would enable PSSC deal effectively with the emerging challenges.
Which jobs in the power industry are more prone to losses?
I don’t think any jobs would be permanently lost in power sector post-pandemic. Presently, some construction workers might have deserted the site but they are likely to come back after the situation eases. Otherwise local workers have to be skilled and utilised.
How is the job market going to change in the power sector post Covid and does it need new job roles?
In the power sector, we must come out with a solution for quickly bridging the skill gap in workmen. Skill mapping of migrant labour and quickly bringing them at an appropriate knowledge level should be our priority. Job roles for railway electrification and signalling and renewables category have to be added.
How is the industry planning to cope with the technological advancements and adoption of automation?
In the power sector, technology adoption is very fast, be it static var compensation or digital substation or others. We have been at the forefront. In fact, we were the first to adopt the 800 kV HVDC and 1200 kV HVAC in transmission. Suitable training is planned as soon as possible for implementing new technologies.
Given your vast industry experience, how are you tackling the crisis?
Some say crisis brings the best or worst out of a leader. I personally believe that any situation can be equally an opportunity or a crisis depending on how one takes it. One of the most important things is that leader must not lose focus of the organizational goals. The situation may trigger a change in path planned or need to priorities again and perhaps rethink on the course to be taken. Setting up new milestones may be needed. Another important lesson is that as a leader your actions are not just your actions but that of the whole organization. A common mistake that leaders and organisations commit is that they stop sharing, both information and current challenges faced, and tend to start a firefight within secretive groups. Any crisis should in fact drive even more transparency in the functioning. A leader needs to conduct frequent town halls, and create a mechanism for a faster and open flow of information and idea exchanges. Finally, the current Covid situation has reminded us of one of the most important lessons, that nothing is permanent. What were once unimaginable, are now the norms – an example is widespread work from home practice.