India could bridge skills gap by getting more women to join workforce, says ABB India head

India could bridge skills gap by getting more women to join workforce, says ABB India head

Calling women a largely untapped resource pool, ABB India head & MD Sanjeev Sharma feels that depending on their skill and education would also enable them to supplement the family income

Even as the world celebrates International Women’s Day on Wednesday, the India unit of the Swedish-Swiss multinational ABB Ltd reiterated its commitment to significantly increase the number of women in its workforce over the next seven years.

“In the last few years, we have grown women’s participation in our company by 11 per cent. We used to be 9 per cent and now we are 20 per cent. Our target is that we should be about 30 per cent by 2030. As we are a publicly listed company, our board has 50 per cent women,” the company’s country head & managing director Sanjeev Sharma told Business Today during an exclusive interaction.

Sharma felt that India Inc. should work towards enhancing the participation of youth and women in the workforce. Women especially were a large resource pool that needed to be tapped.

“Women’s participation is relatively low in the country, that and should be one focus area. Women should be allowed to come to the factories and offices to participate,” said Sharma.

He emphasised that depending on their skill and education level, there should be opportunities for women workers to supplement the family income.

Referring to the current shortage of skilled workers being faced across several industries, he said that the country would do well to leverage its demographic dividend to bridge this shortfall by mobilising more youth, irrespective of their gender, in the workforce. Their participation in both expanding the manufacturing footprint as well as developing new technologies for the future could be ensured by imparting them with the necessary skill sets.

“The world is depleted of young people, with demography in the negative in several countries. If India can do the transition wherein the young workforce is relatively well-prepared and well-participated, we will see a very large expansion of the manufacturing and services sector. And that will directly translate into GDP growth and the distribution of wealth across the country,” he said.

He further informed that ABB India had taken a small but significant step to becoming an industry role model by sponsoring the education of 200 girls from very poor families for four-year engineering courses in Pune, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Some of the girls are children of single parents and construction workers.

“Despite coming from very poor backgrounds they have worked hard to gain admission to engineering colleges. We are very motivated to ensure that we fund their education and also give them training, internships, etc. That is one example of how to bring women into the workforce in a structured manner,” said Sharma.

The more trained manpower ABB India had, the better it would be able to fulfill the demand arising from both the domestic and export markets, he added.

The company recently created plenty of excitement among the country’s micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) players after it announced plans for organic bolt-on acquisitions through as much as 50 per cent of the excess cash balance of Rs 3,616 crore available on its books.


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