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IMPROTANCE OF UPSKILLING WORKFORCE IN INDIA Making India future-ready

Nov 1, 2022

Empowering the upcoming working generation with skill upgradation and hands-on industrial training is a significant booster for reducing India’s current economic pressure. The article talks about the importance of upskilling workforce in India, while highlighting the key milestones for achieving sustainable growth. - Neha Basudkar Ghate, Sub Editor, em.india@publish-industry.in

Upskilling workforce is considered the backbone of a country’s plans for framing futuristic sustainable growth. Especially in a country like India, where millions of youths are knocking on the job market every year, there is a dire requirement to provide various kinds of innovative and required training. This can help them become employable for the industry and at the same time, their creative potential could be utilised for the overall development of the country.

Skills development & upgradation can reduce unemployment and underemployment, increase productivity, and improve standards of living. And if undertaken with the focus on contributing to structural transformation, it automatically results in labour productivity, enabling public and private investment in education and better economic growth.

Market outlook: Skill development

In 2015, the ‘Skill India Mission’ under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship aimed to train over 40 crore people in India in different skills by 2022. But the pandemic turned the market dynamics upside down, this created a huge setback for to meet the target. However, India is slowly but steadily regaining its foothold in the skilling and employment space. According to the Global Skills Gap report, the Indian workforce reported the highest skills gap after Brazil. Currently, India has one of the largest workforces in the world. Nearly 500 million people are within the working age group, while the domestic labour market ranks second to China.

The India Skills Report 2021 found that only about 45.9% of young people would be considered employable. The number was about 46.2% in 2020 and 47.4% in 2019. While India deals with skills deficit challenges, better access to skill development opportunities can bridge the growing gap between employment opportunities and a skilled workforce.

In a recent event held at Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India, asserted that India has initiated new schemes to make this the century of India. Therefore, the Indian youth must be equally proficient in education as well as have the right skill set. “When it comes to skills, your mantra should be skilling, reskilling, and upskilling. I am sure, you will move ahead at this pace, and with your skill, you will give direction to the better future of new India,” shared Modi.

Industry-academia partnership

Universities, that offer skill development programmes, can open up academic opportunities including a basic module for providing soft skills, career guidance and apprenticeship to help students understand the opportunities, their potential and their areas of interest. The advanced academical part should transmit a special skill programme along with financial literacy and entrepreneurship to get certified. This will build a workforce, especially in the rural part of India. Also, exploring academia-industry partnerships is necessary for achieving tangible outcomes such as capacity building and the relevance and quality of skills training.

Similarly in the era of the fourth industrial revolution, the ITIs will have an important role to play and, therefore, the government has ensured modern courses such as coding, AI, robotics, 3D Printing, drone technology, and telemedicine. The government has also ensured to open more than 5,000 skill hubs to promote skill development at schools as per the National Education Policy 2020, which harps on skill courses in schools.

Along with ‘Skill India Mission’, the Government of India had set up the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and schemes under its purview such as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Skill India, SANKALP and National Skill Development Mission, etc, with an aim to the skill gap. Despite these schemes being positioned accurately, according to the 2016 report by the labour bureau, around 58% of unemployed graduates and 62% of post-graduates have mentioned ‘non-availability of jobs matching their skill and education as the primary reason for their unemployment.

In this regard, the new National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) intends to bring a complete overhaul of India’s education system. The NEP 2020 aims to integrate vocational education into mainstream education in a phased manner by the creation of a National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF), which will be coordinated with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) for ease of mobility between streams. The policy aims to expose at least 50% of students from schools and higher education institutions to vocational education by 2025. The NEP 2020 is a right step in the right direction; however, it needs to be supported by robust structural changes in the current learning ecosystem to ensure the holistic development of learners.

What is the significance of technology?

Technology always plays an important role in contributing towards any kind of development. Similarly, in this case, technology is essential in scaling up the skill development training in India. Technology helps to define standard training tools for the candidates so that all tests & tutorials can be conducted easily.

The main objective of creating a skilled workforce must be united with employment opportunities for young people. Without the required opportunities the core challenges of unemployment in the country will never get resolved.

Building an edge for the future

Besides the government and universities, creating avenues for private sector engagement is a crucial strategic pillar for India to nurture the dream of becoming the skill capital of the world. In India, Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) have been incubated by the NSDC for fostering a connection with the industry and devising a curriculum aligned with the demands of the industry.

Another aspect that cannot be overlooked is international benchmarking. Technical collaboration with developed countries such as the UK, Australia and the UAE can be useful for benchmarking and mutual recognition of standards besides increasing the mobility of blue and white-collar Indian workers.

In addition, low female participation in the labour force holds a significant value. Women entrepreneurship will also have tangible social outcomes in terms of improved education and health. There is a need to mainstream women’s employment and entrepreneurship in key government initiatives.

Going forward

According to an article from Bloomberg Economic, India’s GDP is forecasted to grow from $2.7 trillion in 2019 to $5 trillion by 2025 and $8.4 trillion by 2030. Whether we achieve it or not depends on how we capitalise this decade and how effectively we eliminate the causes of disruptions. For this, we must utilise this opportunity to rebuild ourselves rationally and critically with greater impetus. There will always be an ambiguity between a probable future and a possible future, but that can be narrowed down by resilience and determination. Hence, India should take measurable steps in making our youth future-ready.

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