While India holds a competitive advantage in leveraging Industry 4.0 to disrupt the manufacturing sector, the country needs to revisit the standard of education at school and college levels and re-align it to the growing needs of today’s technology-driven times, suggests a Grant Thornton-PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry report titled Industry 4.0: Transforming the manufacturing landscape released at the Industry 4.0 Global Summit organised by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry today.

The report emphasises that while India appears to be relatively well positioned to take advantage of the Industry 4.0 disruption by virtue of its advanced IT sector and large youth demographic potential to establish itself as the future hub for technology-related activities, given the poor availability of qualified faculty and researchers, this advantage could fast transform into a liability without urgent government interventions towards promoting access to such skills.

“The manufacturing sector in India, given its potential contribution to GDP and employment, presents a significant opportunity to be one of the biggest growth drivers for our economy. We need to emerge as a ‘world-class manufacturing hub’. For this, there is a concerted effort from the government and the industry to create an enabling ecosystem. The education sector also has to redesign its curriculum to provide the education of the future. It needs to focus on nurturing specialists with Industry 4.0-ready skills in areas like AI and machine learning, big data, process automation, information security, user experience and human-machine interaction, robotics and blockchain,” said Depender Kumar, Partner, Grant Thornton Advisory Private Limited.

The report recommends increased collaboration between industry and academia in higher education institutions through the creation of channels of communication between faculty and industry to promote the exchange of ideas and expertise. Various avenues of collaboration need to be explored, including workshops, incentives for guest lectures by professionals and institutional arrangements for regular re-design of courses in collaboration with the private sector.

The report also highlights that start-up investments, specifically in the manufacturing sector and manufacturing use cases focusing on Industry 4.0 themes, are a minority. The major deterrents for start-ups in the manufacturing sector seem to be the capital and skilled man power intensive nature of the business.

In order to encourage more start-ups in the manufacturing sector, the report recommends that incubation hubs, specifically for start-ups in collaboration with state governments and private sector stakeholders, need to be set up. These hubs can provide space and other infrastructure facilities for new start-ups to incubate along with interacting with other start-ups at various levels of maturity. The report also advocates the establishment of a fund to provide grant funding to start-ups to facilitate their operation and business.