The infrastructure sector is poised for exponential growth in the years to come and hence the demand for skilled labour will rise. Dr Pratima Sheorey lists skills that are a must-have for those looking for opportunities here
A strong, modern, sustainable and well-functioning infrastructure is the pillar of any country’s socio-economic growth. Currently, India is witnessing a boom in the infrastructure sector - a sector that holds the key to a speedy recovery, post COVID-19. New and ongoing infrastructure projects in the sectors of road development, transportation, power and urban development will create positive social and economic multiplier effects, by creating jobs opportunities, elevating rural and urban income profiles, thereby boosting consumption expenditures, and bring the country back on a high growth trajectory. The sector is poised for exponential growth in the years to come, and thus will also demand skilled labour in the identified sectors.
Aspirants desirous of developing a career in infrastructure development and related industries must remain focused on the following seven skills:
Basic Technical Skills: Technical skills in the areas of engineering (civil, mechanical and electrical) will help students understand the ground details of projects and create innovative solutions, aligned with industry expectations and recent developments in the sector.
Contract Management: Given the multi-stakeholder nature of infrastructure projects, a single infrastructure project can have multiple contracts in force. A skilled infrastructure professional must possess the acumen to identify potential contractual defaults ahead of time, and recommend/prepare the most cost-effective mitigation strategy. Thus, creating water tight contracts and subsequently managing the contracts must come naturally to contract professionals.
Project Management: Infrastructure projects span across several years and are usually multi-stakeholder projects, including government, private investors and impact local citizenry. Thus, effective project management skills are essential, such that time delays, resulting cost over-runs and resulting risks can be managed, to minimise social and economic costs.
Financial Structuring: Due to the large scale of investments coupled with paucity of funds with the government, Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) based projects are likely to continue to be at the front and centre of Infra projects. Within PPP projects, new and innovative financing modules are emerging such as the Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM) in road projects, amongst others. Thus, students need to stay abreast of financial innovations in the sector.
Risk Management: With large infrastructure projects, come higher risks. Risks such as construction risks, operational risks, change in force majeure, change in law, and other environmental risks need effective planning, mitigation and monitoring.
Communication Skills: The ability to concisely yet transparently communicate their requirements and ideas is another most significant skill that students must learn. Good communication skills ensure that no detail is lost in comprehension. However, when we talk about communication, it not only includes prowess in airing your own ideas but also the patience to listen to what the client or other members of the team have to say.
Critical and Design Thinking: Much like every other sector, the infrastructure sector also demands critical and out of the box design thinking. An infrastructure professional must possess the ability to apply quick, effective, and innovative solutions to new and complicated problems.
With these skills, the aspirant is well equipped to solve and manage large infrastructure projects that are ever changing in their scope of work.
The writer is , Director —Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development