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NTPC to expedite training of executives using machine learning, AI

Business Standard:  June 21, 2019

New Delhi: One of India’s leading public sector giant NTPC is reorienting its employee management to prepare for impending leadership crunch that it’s about to face in a couple of years. It is also restructuring several divisions to boost operational efficiency.

Several senior executives would be retiring from the company, which has prompted NTPC to expedite training of mid-level executives using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). “NTPC would be the first such public sector undertaking in India to take up a reorienting task like this. The expenditure on skill training and talent development has been raised tenfold in the past three years,” said a senior executive.

NTPC in 2015 started the first remodelling, which involved shutting down several defunct divisions, joint ventures, and creation of new units to cater to present-day market demands. This included new divisions for renewable energy, energy efficiency, equipment sourcing, and consultancy.

Taking the same forward, the company is now focusing on its human resource. “As there will be a flight of talent at the seniormost level, we are preparing mid-level executives for these roles as soon as possible,” said an executive in the know. He said close to 1,000 executives are undergoing this process.

Saptarshi Roy, director (human resources), confirmed the company has revamped its learning development model and the talent review system. “Going forward, AI and machine learning will play a huge role in hiring new talent, identifying executives on skill basis and their deployment accordingly. The shelf life of employment is quite high in this company and we are trying to make the most of it,” Roy told this paper.

Sources said taking lessons from the Unchahar accident, NTPC is also redesigning its labour and contractor procurement, which would be centralised and strictly monitored. Under a new contract labour management system (CLMS), NTPC has centralised the process of hiring contractors and labour.

In 2017, NTPC witnessed one of the worst accidents in its history at its Unchahar plant site, where the boiler of a 500 megawatt (Mw) exploded, killing close to 40 people, including three additional general manager-level executives. Most contractors ran away after the accident, leading to difficulty in contacting the families of the deceased labour and offering compensation.

Under CLMS, contractors would be signed up region-wise and monitored as well. Earlier it was done by power-generating units of NTPC. The company has set up seven divisions across four regions which would manage its contractor hiring and labour management for the units falling under that region. This has led to transfer of several executives from their existing locations, leading to resistance from many. Senior executives handling the matter, however, said the company has initiated aggressive communication to allay apprehensions and avoid any fallout, though there hasn’t been any.

This overhaul is part of the organisation restructuring that NTPC is undertaking. Among other things, the HR and administration services have been centralised with a real-time portal and mobile app.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.