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Solutions Needed To Make India's Youth Employable

India's 'demographic dividend' is likely to fructify only if the 'right capital' is invested with the 'right skills' at the right time and in sufficient numbers

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Youth is a phase of life juxtaposed between teens and adulthood, marked with multiple physical, psychological, intellectual and emotional changes. Youth tend to exhibit strong emotions, as they grow out of being their "parents' children" and begin to assert themselves. Their level of idealism is high and speed is important for them as they believe that it is a competitive world and this is the time for them to develop a keen sense of competitiveness that would lead to a good quality of life. Smart employers do understand that these have a lot to offer as their domain knowledge, enthusiasm and optimism infused with the youthful energy can translate into hard work, ability to take on challenges, adapt to new roles and situations and constant need to innovate to stay ahead of competition. The youngest employees are sometimes a company's greatest assets.

Across the globe, major transitions are taking place in demographics in different countries. In Japan, Germany and some other geographies, the ageing population is on the rise. However, the number of people in the workforce is not growing at a similar pace. This is leading to fewer working youth and others having to pay for and be accountable for the care-giving of the elderly. On the other hand, India is enjoying reverse demographics as we have about half the population below the age of 30-35 and this is succinctly captured in the term, "demographic dividend." However, the dividend is likely to fructify only if the "right capital" is invested with the "right skills" at the right time and in sufficient numbers.

Hence skilling of youth has become one of the foremost priorities of the Indian Government and society. PM Narendra Modi has set up an ambitious target to train over 40 crore people in India in different skills by 2022. The Skill India program is on Mission mode and aims at correcting structural deficiencies-reflected in many unemployed people, unemployable people and yet- to- fill vacancies, all existing cheek by jowl. What was perceived to become a nightmare has metamorphosed into a once in a lifetime opportunity for a nation to leverage its human capital and has the potential make India the workforce supplier of the world.

We owe it to the youth of India that they are imparted those skills that are needed by the market and society. Skill development also has to address the content and manner in which knowledge is imparted, even to students in plus 2/Graduate studies stage. The knowledge being taught and transferred, so far, to such students has to be aligned with the "how to", i.e. the skill, with an eye on what is the ultimate shape of the work/role/opportunity for which the knowledge and skills would come alive and be of value to stakeholders.

Life Skills
Youth also need to focus on developing their life skills, besides the domain/professional requirements. The domain skills come alive, only when the individual is integrated with the "living" and the "doing" processes. To live well, the values-ethics and morals frame is an important component. The emotional intelligence of the youth needs to be developed around greater situational awareness, adaptability, resilience, self-efficacy besides managing tough situations etc. What really matters, going forward, would be the youth having to realize that they would stutter and fall many times and yet the character is built when each such time, they get up and live to fight another day. Hence, along with acquisition and application of knowledge-skills, it is equally important to embed the values of "being" and "assimilation" processes too. This will enable them to use their skills and capabilities towards meeting the requirements of their families, employers, neighbors, society and the world at large.

While all levels of educational institutions have to raise their game, the B Schools in particular have a more profound responsibility. These institutions have been and will have to create the enabling environment (including psychological safety) for nurturing and developing the future leaders in contexts that include Corporate, Government, Not-for-Profit, and Entrepreneurship. In simultaneity, the B Schools also have the responsibility-through executive education, consultative partnerships, accelerators, incubation centers- to contribute in the 'Unlearning-Learning-Relearning' processes of the Managers themselves.

The Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, the nodal ministry for all Skill India efforts, has already embarked on a special industry initiative to attract corporates to setup co-branded Corporate Skill Excellence Centers in PPP mode, to cater to the captive skilling demands of industry, enhance productivity of supply chain partners and fulfill the aspirations of youth in the surrounding areas in a sustainable manner. In response, many companies today have come forward not only to interact and collaborate with government but also intensified their academic interventions by establishing alliances on initiatives like faculty upgradation, internships, curriculum revision support, research incubation, accelerators, scholarships for student and faculty exchange programs etc. In order to overcome the shortage of well-groomed knowledge workers.

The wise corporates are already on the highway to leverage this generation's potential and capabilities, by incorporating what matters to the latter, towards generating superior efficiencies, greater impact, and better service to all stakeholders, besides making the workplace a nicer one to work for. The youth on their part, would need to realize that it is important to expect the work place to provide benefits like vacation, sabbaticals, office picnics, training opportunities, events and gym memberships etc. However, what is more important that they - work alongside any other generational employee- to ensure that the organization is sustainable and successful, while serving its chosen stakeholders. If the youth are able to lay less stress on this, they would not have to wait too long to assume the leadership of teams, departments, organization, societies and even the nations and world.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Uday Salunkhe

Uday Salunkhe is Group Director, Welingkar Institute of Management (WeSchool), Mumbai

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