Within the Drone Zone: How drone companies meet the need for talent

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If Surya Ravi took up a task to pilot drones with a company that makes drones for land-surveys and wasn’t quite sure of what exactly it would mean. He was thinking of trying it for a year prior to deciding further. Now, after a month He says he would like to become drone pilot for “many years”.

After working in sales and engineering departments of the top firms, Surya, who has completed a master’s degree in technology is announcing that he has discovered “happiness” as a drone pilot, since he is enthusiastic about the field of aeronautics.

For those like Surya the growing drone industry offers a wide range of opportunities for career advancement. From surveys of land and border surveillance to spraying disinfectants on farmlands and aiding in rescue the possibilities for drones are numerous. This has resulted in an increase in need for skilled workers to fill various roles and roles.

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Surge in demand

In August of last year the central government announced Drone Rules, 2021 to regulate the drone industry. These regulations and the subsequent policies have given a huge push to the dawn industry and increased the demand for skilled workers.

According to a Civil Aviation Ministry estimates, India’s drone industry will grow from between Rs 12,000 and $15,000 in 2026, up from around Rs 80 crore at present.

This year the minister for civil aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, had declared that he was expecting 1 lakh workers to be employed in drone companies within 5 years within the country.

According to a report by talent supply firm TeamLease the drone industry has a workforce of 20,000 to 25,000 and is expected to create 100,000 positions by the year 2022. This includes drone service companies as well.

Tenders for drone services

One of the main reasons behind this increase in demand for talent may be the huge tenders the government of India has put out for drones.

Consider, for example the SVAMITVA program to survey villages with drones in order to create extensive property records. The company based in Delhi, Omnipresent Robot Tech, a drone company that specializes in land surveying has applied for two tenders worth Rs 50 crore in Karnataka and an offer of Rs 120 crore for Andhra Pradesh under the scheme.

In describing the potential of tenders for government contracts, Aakash Sinha, CEO of Omnipresent Aakash Sinha, CEO of Omnipresent, states “We are trying to close deals that are 10x-20x our (current) revenue.”

Skills requirements

Although there is a massive demand for workers however, it is crucial to recognize the gaps in skills within the field across roles and functions.

Manufacturing startups require skilled techs and designers, whereas operating startups require skilled tech engineers and pilots. Startups in the B2B or B2G (business with government) space require skilled operational and business development professionals.

There are two issues drone companies face. They must recruit quickly from a workforce that isn’t specifically trained to meet the industry’s demands. The second is that they must take on the issue of current employees being taken over by rivals.

To overcome these obstacles Startups must attract prospective candidates as well as retain their current employees by implementing strategies that go that go beyond the salary package.

Train them and hire them as young people.

As per Aakash, the ability to survive and grow at a reasonable rate in the drone business is not a challenge at the moment. The issue is whether one can be as a winner through acquiring the most skilled employees, he claims.

Economic pitch spoke with several startups to learn about their hiring practices. The majority of them stated that the primary goal of hiring is to recruit smart, enthusiastic college students, and to train the employees in-house.

Omnipresent has announced its Drone Centre of Excellence in collaboration with Noida-based Gautam Buddha University to provide one month of training for B. Tech graduates. Alongside instructing pilots, the center also provides training to engineers for jobs in data processing that are a complement to the role of pilots.

“We are training our own pilots, engineers, people who can repair, test, fly the drone and maintain it,” Aakash says. Aakash.

The Bengaluru-based Skylark Drones, which provides backend software and analytics services in the field of drone services has a similar approach to hiring. It prevents the issue of a lack of expertise by securing software engineering students who are still in college, following an extensive entrance exam.

Based on Mughilan Ramasamy who is CEO of Skylark Drones the college students who later get employed as employees, are more likely to stay for longer periods of time and some are part of the core team.

The IIT Kanpur lab developed EndureAir that builds logistics drones that can be used by military It also believes that recruiting young people and educating them is the right way to go.

However, technical training in-house is not without its own set of challenges.

Based on Prateek Srivastava who is the Director of Operations at the Pune-based DroneAcharya Aerials It is difficult to find instructors who are certified from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The CEO says that there are few institutions that train instructors, in the field, and frequency of training sessions is also not high.

As per the state’s DigitalSky platform there were only 307 certified instructors as of the 29th of July 2022.

Look for the talent that is right for you.

Entrepreneurs who start drone companies realize that they are not able to match the pay offered by competitors from other sectors of tech that are well-funded. Therefore, it is essential to recruit people who are enthusiastic and naturally drawn to the drone industry.

“It all depends on whether the engineer wants to work in the drone space,” Skylark’s Mughilan.

The Lead GIS consultant at Skylark is one person who is enthusiastic about the field. About six years ago while she was a student of the field of civil engineering at Bengaluru and was interested in drone technology, she enrolled in an instruction on the application of drone software technology.

The moment that Skylark visited her school on the basis of a recruitment drive, her curiosity about geo-spatial technologies, that the company was working using, caught their eye and helped her get an employment opportunity at Skylark.

“I get a lot of freedom in the sectors I want to work in, the solutions I want to develop, the way I want to do it,” Says Sucharita.

Create an environment for work that supports it

In order to create a welcoming working environment, EndureAir says it offers flexibility in working hours, remote-working options including women-friendly policies and an open-door policy across the hierarchy for discussions regarding employee concerns. The company also strives to align salaries across positions for new hires as often as it is possible.

A lot of startups are tapping on employee referral systems in order to help build teams.

DroneAcharya Aerials has a referral program called “Find Another You’. The program offers bonuses for employees who successfully refer to someone else. The CEO of the company claims that it gives employees the chance to develop, aids in retention of employees who are already employed, and also attracts new employees.

The company claims that it has never had an employee sacked by a rival drone company. It has hired 27 employees as of 2022 and plans for 45-50 new employees in the near future.

ideaForge One of India’s most renowned drone companies, believes that referrals increase conversions due to the fact that applicants are more aware of the standards of work expected by the organization and will be more likely to integrate to the culture of the workplace, due to their relationship with current employees.

Create trust and confidence to attract talent

An Agritech drone-maker Garuda Aerospace was the first company to sell drones that are subsidised through loans from the government. Garuda Aerospace has also expanded into Africa. The company has been vocal about its plans and strategies. plans, which is helping build trust with the public and drawing prospective employees.

Following the announcement that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a 100 Garuda Kisandrones simultaneously across 100 communities in February of this year, the business received an influx of interest from potential employees. The company received 7,500 applications for employment in the wake of the telecast announcement of drones.

Agnishwar Jayaprakash who is CEO at Garuda Aerospace Garuda Aerospace, says that the company has also recruited workers from big companies like Zomato, Ola, Tata, and Mahindra. Garuda employed 120 people in the current calendar year, and intends to recruit 300 workers in the coming quarter.

Accept the truth

Demand is outweighing supply, which has led to the attempt of poaching from competing startups. The presence of companies like Reliance, Adani, and Rattan India, via partial acquisitions as well as large investments adds to turnover of employees.

Munira Loliwala who is the head of business at TeamLease She says that certain drone clients she oversees have seen poaching efforts from rival firms. Based on her experience, jobs that require limited abilities (such as CAD design) have seen remuneration increases of 35-40%..

Skylark’s Mughilan acknowledges that he lost employees due to salaries that were up to three times greater than the salary they earned.

The company is witnessing its employee tenure reducing, especially for those working in business development and operations that are often wooed by big corporations. Mughilan states that he was common to have an average of four years for employees earlieron, but they’re likely to be for only two years. He anticipates that this will decrease to 12 months in the near future.

He says startups can overcome the issue by acknowledging employees’ right to quit for raises in their salary. Startups need to prepare for the possibility of employee turnover and be ready for the possibility of departure by hiring junior employees.

To keep out the attention of outsiders, Omnipresent has started providing equity options and stock options in order to keep its top staff.

As per Aakash of Omnipresent Drone startups are confronting positive issues that point to the real potential for growth and the demand.

At present, drone companies seem to be flying with confidence, and with the right talented people on their side. If they are able to fly successfully with enough hands on the deck is yet to be determined.

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