Fixing Skilling Crisis Amid Pandemic The dream of achieving a self-reliant $5-trillion economy completely depends upon the education and the skill level of its citizens

By Ankit Shyamsukha

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A recent parliamentary report states that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the Indian automotive industry suffered INR 2,300 crore loss per day and an estimated job loss in the sector was about 345,000. This report clearly indicates that there is still a mismatch in the education we impart to the youth and the demand they have to meet at the job. This gap will widen further if we don't initiate structured reforms and initiative in the next Union Budget, which will be tabled in less than a week's time. The dream of achieving a self-reliant $5-trillion economy completely depends upon the education and the skill level of its citizens.

Training the workforce to get adapt to the digital setup

With the advent of COVID-19 vaccines and India's emergence as the soft-power in the medical industry, companies are considering the year 2021 with full of hopes. They are slowly and steadily adapting to the new normal by upskilling, relearning and learning the importance of advanced technologies in order to retain their relevance and competitiveness in this digital era. At this juncture, the public and private partnership can help to bring the major shift in skilling/reskilling programmes in tandem with the government skilling programmes.

Apart from this, the academic curriculum in schools and colleges must be rebooted to remain in sync with the current realities of the post-pandemic era. It is alarming to see how India despite being renowned for its large talent pool, most graduates are unemployable due to mismatch of their skill sets with industry requirements. Our ministry of education and ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship should work together to come up with a new curriculum and skilling programmes as per the industry standards.

New job opportunities demands new skills

In order to cope with the company's new transformation, the existing and new workforce also needs to have constant skilling, reskilling and upskilling. The new job requirements will also demand the knowledge of a new set of areas including IoT, mechatronics, robotics, 3D printing, AI, machine and deep learning, analytics, virtual collaboration, automotive design, and computational thinking. A lot of training programmes is the need of the hour to build the capacity of these workforces. Even the current time demands a complete change in the mindset of youth and their parents. An engineering student's goal should be getting a job, becoming financially independent than merely holding a degree. Once this mindset sets in, there is no way India can be taking the lead in becoming a hub for manufacturing, and supplier of skilled talent.

Continuous reskilling programmes in organizations

Surveys have found out that those companies who launched successful reskilling programs are also the ones who were able to better address the skill gaps caused by technological disruptions or to implement new business models or strategies in order to stay relevant and competitive. The lesson here is that simply getting started on reskilling programmes makes organizations better prepared for potential future role disruption—and is preferable to waiting. There is a need for continuous skilling programs and they should not be short term. Companies need to understand that whatever talent reskilling or redeployment they do should also be used to expand their reskilling capabilities going forward.

Ankit Shyamsukha

CEO, ICA Edu Skills & Co-founder, IDCM

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