India – the land of promises, of desires and dreams, of pizzas and pohas, of ghats and ghettos, of millions of voices yearning to make a mark in a smörgåsbord of aspirations. India as a country is a shining example of several contradictions coexisting together, the current employment scenario being just a part of it.
A vibrant young workforce and an improved investor sentiment fueling the employment rate is what makes India the toast among other BRICS nations in international economic summits and forums alike. The workforce itself, segregated into the high, medium and the low skilled job seekers seeking employment, helps fuel the Indian growth story.
Road to high employment – prickly path ahead?
However a McKinsey report has recently pointed out that we will have a surplus of around 35 million low skilled workers by 2022. Additionally, we will also have a shortage of 13 million medium-skilled workers at the same time.
The ideal solution, one might say, would be to place all the medium-skilled workers in various companies and get the surplus low-skilled workers inducted in training institutes. In this manner, a regular supply of medium skilled workers could be maintained. However, assessing and then training whopping numbers of workers according to requirements of different employment avenues would be a gargantuan task, particularly in India with such diversity in languages, cultures and backgrounds.
Where do we go now?
To rectify this skill supply-demand mismatch, the 11th Five Year Plan envisaged the setting up of a National Skill Development Corporation with a vision to create 500 million skilled workers until 2022. This would be done through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) by building inclusive skill systems.
The Government can free itself from building up the infrastructure from scratch, and therefore focus purely on nurturing and coordinating private sector initiatives. Since the industries are themselves involved in everything from setting up assessment and training centres as well as running them, gradually a framework for standards, curriculum and quality could be evolved.
The funding process itself now leans more towards giving loans and equity rather than financial grants. The aim is to ultimately create a low cost, efficient and viable business model that can be scaled up in different sectors. Special attention can be given to employment sectors where the market mechanism does not exist or is largely ineffective, to catalyze a multiplier effect. Dissemination of information regarding the course details and career opportunities could also be improved.
Technology to the rescue
Everything said and done, the devil is in the details. The aforementioned benefits of tying up will yield fruits only when someone facilitates smooth tie-ups between all the stakeholders – the government, the training institutes and the companies. One way to do this would be to set up a system to coordinate data flows between these entities. This arrangement offers several benefits.
- This data will include everything from information about sector specific skill requirements, course syllabus, accreditation and certification processes to candidate details, employer information among several others.
- Keeping this data at the beck and call of all the stakeholders would enable them to track and monitor their results in real time as well as effect a course correction either in policy or strategy whenever and wherever lags are detected.
- When such a system is in place, it will have a butterfly effect on the growth of number of jobs in the country, which would help facilitate the absorption of the surplus workers in the workforce.
A bright future
Clearly, it makes sense for the Modi government to continue the push on this front. Ultimately, an efficient job marketplace helps build a more stable and vibrant country by raising the overall standard of living of the population. A healthy and a productive employed workforce could contribute significantly towards nation building, and with the boon of India’s demographic dividend our potential could well turn into a reality.
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