How India Can Best Utilize Its Demographic Advantage

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Over 62 percent of India's population falls in the working age group. This advantage that India possesses has attracted global attention because of the immense potential it offers is not just for India but also for the world. However to realize the rewards of a young workforce, we need to ensure they are employable.

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Address Gaps in Education and Skill Training

The harsh reality is that only 4.69 percent of the totalworkforce in India has undergone formal skill training, according to a report. Also as per another report by FICCI-EY, almost 90 percent of our workforce is employed in the unorganized sector.

There are some serious gaps in the quality of education available even in some of the most prestigious institutions in our country. Combine this with the fact that even among the conventionally educated youth, most are not employable because they lack the required vocational skills and we have a formidable challenge staring at us. This has resulted in Indian workforce grappling with issues like poor working conditions, low-income levels and the inability to handle the needs of today's work scenario.

Meet the Rising Demand for Skilled Workforce

The National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 states that there will be an incremental demand of 109.73 million additional skilled manpower across 24 sectors by 2022. Sectors like auto, healthcare, technology and retail have huge demand for skilled workforce. Also with India becoming one of the fastest growing start-up markets in the world, there is a whole new category of job opportunities for the Indian youth. There is an urgent need to improve the level of employability of the available workforce to be able to keep up with the growth in demand for skilled workforce.

Integrate Skill Training With Education system

We need to create an aspiration among the youth for skill development through seamless integration of vocational training in the formal education system. The need of the hour is to address this issue across all levels of the education system, which needs to be driven through educational bodies along with industry and the government working on it as a collective responsibility. Also institutes should create courses that are more relevant for the industry. Besides this, even for skilled workforce programs need to be created for re-skilling and up-skilling to further increase productivity.

Rebuild Education- Industry Connect

Currently, many large tech firms have to invest in their own training programs that last
from three to nine months to make the workforce skilled. We need to focus on creating well-rounded individuals who are employable by the corporate sector. We also need institutes to create a strong collaboration with the industry by creating alumni connect and getting projects from the industry that also helps in placements and joint research programs with the industry. This will help create a stronger education-industry connect with the industry being able to employ job ready manpower.

Role of Private Sector

The private sector also needs to be incentivized for its involvement in promoting skill development. Drastic upgradation is required at each level from educational infrastructure to processes to technology and knowledge. This is where the private sector's support can result in significant impact. This is just the beginning of a long journey in this direction and a lot more needs to be done in order to address this situation effectively.

(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (March 2016 Issue).