What's in Store for India's Future Workforce - Can Startups Lead the Way?
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With 12 million individuals expected to join the workforce every year, we are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution. On the flipside, they are not being adequately equipped for a rapidly changing job landscape. While the world over, technology is threatening to eliminate jobs, the education system in India has not stepped up to face this challenge. An outdated curriculum coupled with a lack of practical training has rendered more than 75% of the 1.5 million graduates we produce every year unemployable. In such a dynamically changing job landscape, we cannot even effectively predict what skills that today’s primary school children will need for jobs in the future. We need to acknowledge this and create a skill-focussed action plan for a tomorrow-ready India.
The Indian government has taken note of the employability problems and has addressed this through various schemes like the National Skill Development Corporation and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY). While these programs are commendable, corporate entities and private players are crucial to amplify the reach at a grassroots level. Multiple large corporations and startups have begun to innovate in the space. In turn, many private investors have had their interest piqued in this sector. Some emerging verticals under the umbrella of employability are out to define the future of work and our youth.
Future-proofing through skilling
While technology is eliminating jobs, it can be leveraged in innovative ways to teach various trades, communication skills, soft skills and basic computer literacy.
Online marketplaces for educational courses such as Unacademy give easy access to economical, crowd-sourced content to professionals in tier 2/3 cities who wish to gain skills in order to facilitate career changes. The prevalent challenge for entrepreneurs in this vertical is proving a clear cause and effect - a job at the end of a course. People need to see rewards for their investment; companies that can tap into this will be able to thrive based on this unmet need.
Rethinking 9-5 jobs through Microentrepreneurship
The power of balance is shifting away from large corporations to newer startups and, more importantly, individuals. Catalyzed by the high unemployment rates among graduates, there is a pressing need for startups that are helping individuals become micro-entrepreneurs or full-time freelancers. Startups building this ecosystem for students/housewives/young graduates to be able to work at their convenience can help them participate in the formal economy. Two startups exemplifying this solution are Awign and CueMath.
Solving the “where do they fit?” puzzle
Hiring is broken and has been that way for a while. Tech-enabled job matching solutions has been hailed as an answer, but we have miles to go in terms of technology that can help fix it. Smarter job matching and evaluation can tackle underemployment, ensuring qualified candidates are placed in jobs best suited to their education and experience. This can provide valuable data on where jobs are likely to be created and then ensuring students are getting trained accordingly.