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Why Upgrading Skills Every Five Years Should Be Mandatory Requirement Investing in people through quality education and upgrading skills would build human capital, which is key to supporting sustainable economic growth and creating more inclusive societies

By Akshay Munjal

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"The future is already here; it's just not very evenly distributed." - William Gibson

Exponential technologies are transforming every aspect of our lives daily. Understanding the potential and implications of these is important not just for every company but for every individual as well as irrespective of their chosen profession. New breakthroughs such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Big Data Analytics continue to disrupt the economy at a scorching pace which is unprecedented in human history.

The technology used to be about systems in business and high-tech gadgets at one point in time. Today, it has taken over every part of our lives and society. Increasingly, pervasive data networks and connected devices have made processing information and rapid communication possible. Surely, the future is better and more optimized, but there's also a potential for loss of control as we yield to technology.

Our constantly-in-change world is running on exponential time and we all need to figure out how to manage or control it, else as man and machine become one, it would only get more out of control. The need of the hour is "innovative enlightenment" and we all need to fully recognise it. The demand for skills is changing dramatically. The result? Urgent need for professionals to constantly hone their skills – in sync with the existing technologies and the upcoming ones.

This influx of new technology is resulting in a major shift in hiring patterns. Many of the current skillsets are becoming obsolete or are in dire need of a reboot. Additionally, the demand for new skill-set has only grown. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that around one-third of all jobs across 46 nations are in danger of being displaced by 2030. This poses a challenge to mid-level employees who haven't made the attempt to upskill. Only those who proactively align to match the fast-changing industry demands will succeed in transitioning into the "future workforce'.

Keeping Pace

As the skilled landscape lags behind technological advancement, the definition of skill in India and globally is changing. It is estimated that 65per cent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new jobs that don't yet exist. Succeeding in such a dynamic market requires adaptability and being up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in different sectors.

To continue to grow and thrive, we must embrace lifelong learning. It is imperative for both industry and academia to anticipate future job skills requirements and its impact on businesses. The need of the hour is for the industry and the academia to collaborate and design courses aimed at making our professionals "future-ready.'

Equipping India's Future Workforce

The global skilled workforce is likely to increase from 1.66 billion workers in 2011 to 2.16 billion by 2040. With 65per cent of India's population of working age, India's favourable demographic dividend is a beacon of hope for the country. India has one of the youngest populations in an ageing world. By 2020, the median age in India will be just 28, compared to 37 in China and the US, 45 in Western Europe, and 49 in Japan. and their education lacked real-world benefits.

How can we leverage India's young population if we cannot skill them? According to a McKinsey report, only a quarter of Indian engineering graduates are employable. This shows that our entry-level professionals are not job-ready, and their education lacked real-world benefits. As per a NASSCOM report, 40per cent of India's workforce needs to upskill within the next five years to stay relevant, owing to automation and changing industry demands. These alarming statistics stress the importance of relevant skill development and training in order to make our workforce industry-ready. Investing in people through quality education and upgrading skills would build human capital, which is key to supporting sustainable economic growth and creating more inclusive societies. History has repeatedly proven countries who have invested in human capital, have reaped disproportionate dividends, like South Korea, Germany, and more.

Need of the Hour: Mandatory Training and Period Skill Upgradation

As is evident from the discussion, we need to gear up now and prepare our workforce to meet the challenges in the future. The only way to mobilize adequate resources with the right job-ready is to ensure that employees constantly upskill themselves. Mandatory training and skill upgrading skills every five years would offer immense benefits to professionals in their careers and prevent them from becoming obsolete. It would ensure that employees embrace lifelong learning and are comfortable with continuous adaptation. In India, mandatory skill training and reskilling would be crucial to tap into the favourable demographic dividend and leverage the ready workforce.

Akshay Munjal

President, BML Munjal University

An MBA from Pepperdine University, USA and a graduate in BSc (Hon) in Management from the University of Bradford, UK, Akshay Munjal joined the Hero Group in 2006. As the executive director, BML Munjal University, he is the driving force behind this higher education initiative.

Prior to his MBA, Akshay Munjal worked at Hero MindMine and Easy Bill Ltd., both Hero Group companies. He has also worked with companies such as Accenture, Nestle and American Honda Motors.

He has been an active member of the Rotary Society of India and has also volunteered with the United Nations.

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