Role of Skill Development in Enriching Employment in India
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Skill development is the most talked-about term these days and every organization is focused on hiring skilled employees or training them to acquire good skills prior to hands-on jobs. After all, the market is totally dependent on skills and specialisation these days driven by the dawn of tech like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cloud Computing, Big Data, analytics and Internet of Things etc. As these technological revolutions are rapidly shifting the borderline between the work performed by human resources and those performed by automation, the job market is undergoing major transformations. These transformations, if managed sensibly, could lead to better job opportunities and improved quality of life for all, but if managed poorly can end up broadening the skill gaps and higher levels of unemployment.
An Urgent Need
The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) recently reported that the unemployment rate in the country in FY18 was at 5.3% in rural India and 7.8% in urban India, resulting in an overall unemployment rate of 6.1%. However, on the flip side, industry reports indicate that more than 50,000 jobs in data science and machine learning are lying vacant due to the shortage of qualified talent. Witnessing this market having twice the number of data-driven jobs as job seekers, it is clear that there is an urgent need for professionals to upskill.
With the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, companies are willing to leverage new and emerging technologies to augment the efficiency of production and consumption, multiply into new markets, and introduce new products catering to the global consumer base. However, India lacks immensely when it comes to talent in data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence, necessary to harness the potential of this revolution.
What Has to be Done?
Realizing the importance of upskilling and training, the Indian government has already introduced various programmes under its Skill India initiative to nurture highly skilled and employable Indian youth so that they work efficiently across major sectors of the economy. But it is the corporate houses and businesses that are aggressively joining the reskilling and upskilling revolution to address the skill gap. They are prioritising and focusing their re-skilling and upskilling efforts on employees currently performing high-value roles as a way of strengthening their enterprise’s strategic capacity. In fact, the 2018 WEF report on Future of Jobs also indicated that 54% and 53% of companies, respectively, intend to target employees in key roles and in frontline roles which will be using relevant new technologies. Additionally, 41% of employers are focusing their reskilling provision on high-performing employees whereas 33% stated that they would prioritize at-risk employees in roles that are most affected by the technological disruption.
Clearly, skills are no more a matter of choice. In this competitive digital era, they are compulsory to get access to better professional prospectus that can create a futuristic workforce adept with the necessary skills and knowledge. Afterall, the progression of a country can be determined only by its workforce, especially if they are equipped with the best possible technical, industrial and soft skills. However, with technology modifying at a rapid pace, a comprehensive ‘augmentation strategy’ is the need of the hour where businesses can automate some jobs to enhance their employees’ relative strengths and eventually empower them to leverage their full potential.
That said, workers will also need to have the appropriate skills to unlock this positive vision. This will enable them to thrive in the workplace of the future and give them the ability to continue getting reskilled throughout their lives. Having a mindset of agile learning on the part of workers is much called for while they move from the perimeter of today’s jobs to new and hitherto unimagined futures, only to match the realities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.