India as a future talent powerhouse has been one of the most deliberated topics recently but the fast catching buzzword is “Jobs for Future”. World Bank’s recent report states that many jobs existing today may disappear in 10 years from now. It also says that India is one of the few countries where the working population will be excess of those dependent on them and will continue for at least two more decades. This huge potential is the propellant for India’s move from being a developing nation to a developed one if we are able to equip and continuously upgrade skills of the population in the working age group.
However many jobs are getting mechanised which will lead to a large imbalance of unknown future and skilling people. Jobs are thinning in most labour demanded intensive industries like core engineering, manufacturing and automobile. India will have plenty of low to moderate skilled people for jobs that may not exist. Worldwide all countries experience demographic dividend once in their lifetime and this is just an opportunity for next 25 years, which once gone will never come back. In the knowledge ecosystem of a country, the upward pyramid starts with access to information, education, knowledge, skills followed by talent.
The 11th Five Year Plan has detailed road map for skill development in India and favours the formation of skill development missions. Both at the state and national levels, the most important initiative in last two years was to create a stand alone “Skills Ministry” though many of its initiatives are yet to show results.
Even at government quarters the buzzword is moving from skilling to outcome that is employment or employability of skilled candidates. India needs to identify critical competencies for employment of future. If we look at the current stock of the skill landscape in India, the situation is alarming. As per Wheebox India Skills Report 2017, it was found out that of all the students entering the job market across the country, hardly two in five meet the criteria of the employment set by the employers.
Similar was the case in business and vocational industrial training courses. The severity of the situation is accentuated by many levels when the economy is slightly looking up. New jobs in new domains are getting generated like commerce, energy, retail, telecom, hospitality and financial industry but there are not enough “employable” candidates available. It is this gravity of the situation that has started various initiatives to combat this problem. In fact, the government of India has adopted skill development as a national priority. Non-cognitive skills will be more in demand from employers not only in India but globally.
There are no sector skills councils that designs content and measures to have critical skills like English language, soft and behavioural skills for every candidate irrespective of universities, colleges or academic institutions. Candidates with such certified skills other than domain skills will be in demand not only in India but globally, especially in developing economies.
Measurement of skills must be the paramount of government’s radar, skilling may not be standardised due to human factors or curriculum or even admission of students from every walk of life.
Hence we shall control what is controllable like assessment and certification. If that is standardised and non-biased (using electronic methods), then we can vouch for the certificates that we provide to each candidate.
(The writer is founder and chief executive officer, Wheebox)