The burgeoning gap of skill development

India must hone employable talent and create an agile workforce

Updated: Oct 14, 2015 03:10:41 PM UTC

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For India to reap the dividends of a young population, it is essential that they are right skilled as the fight for suitable talent at the right cost will be crucial to the success of any industry

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Of the 5.14 million students who graduate in India every year, only 34 percent are employable by the Knowledge Industry (Source: Nasscom Report 2014).

The government has set a target of skilling 500 million people by 2022. Going by the current pace, India is likely to fall way short of the goal. We have 12 million workers coming into the market every year, but have been able to create jobs for only 13.9 million people between 2009 and 2012. And we have succeeded in training only 7.3 million people in 2013-14. It is clearly evident that there is a wide skill gap.

For India to reap the dividends of a young population, it is essential that they are right-skilled as the fight for suitable talent at the right cost will be crucial to the success of any industry. Given the reach and opportunities available in the country today, it is disheartening to note this figure against the backdrop of high unemployment. The crucial missing link here is skill development which is the key ingredient to robust economic growth as the country transforms into a diversified and internationally competitive economy.

Only 10 percent of the total workforce in the country receives some kind of skill training. Considering the fact that the academic curriculum is more or less similar across universities and colleges, graduates from tier 2 and 3 towns typically lose out due to lack of exposure and soft skills in the race for employment.

The need of the hour is not just to bridge the gap but also to create an agile workforce. To ensure that happens, organisations need to have the will and the capability to cross-train the workforce and build a culture of learn, unlearn. To get the necessary leverage on the demographic dividend and the young talent coming out of schools and colleges, they need to be made job-ready.

To make this happen, there is an urgent need to upgrade the current education system. There are three important stakeholders who have a role to play here – the government, the industry and the academia, who have to take the lead role in taking care of the changing skill requirements to leverage on the demographic dividend which India has in abundance. Any delay will very quickly turn into a demographic bulge and would result in negative fallouts across the country in terms of unrest and unemployment. But with the renewed focus by various trade bodies, industry, governments and academia, I believe we are taking our baby steps to develop a future-ready and skilled workforce which will enable us to encash our demographic dividend in the interest of world at large.

- By Raghavendra K, Senior Vice President and Head – Human Resource Development, Infosys BPO

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