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Hit The Ground Running

A reinvention will need a vast paradigm shift to develop the tools of change needed to survive in the algorithm age

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The resume reflected a Master's degree, but the professional status still read the same - educated but unemployed. This is a story common to a burgeoning number of students in the country that are lost in transition of being educated but lacking the employable skills. With an overarching bent towards theoretical education with little or no exposure to practical know-how, this scenario was long in the making.

With 15 million youth entering the workforce each year, more than 75 per cent are not job ready. India would need 700 million skilled workers by 2022 to meet the demands of a growing economy. This glaring imbalance due to lack of technical and soft skills points towards the urgent and growing need to make young Indians job ready, focusing on the young graduates to augment their employability.

The young nation that we are with 62 per cent of our population in the working age group and more than 54% of the total population below 25 years of age, we need to make drastic amends to solve the great Indian talent conundrum. To make the most of this demographic dividend that we as a country possess, the maiden step towards this would be to celebrate skills and accept their need and importance with an open mind, just like China.

For instance, the country currently faces a huge shortage of Sales Associates, Computer Operators, Beauticians, Hair Stylists, Medical Sales representatives, Mobile Repair Engineers, Helper-Plumbers, Helper-Electricians, Sewing Machine Operators, Helper-Masons/Bartenders, Painter-Decorators. Yet the scant regard we have for vocational training and skills development has led to decades of neglect of these crafts.

And once this due regard to skills is given, we need to support the tech growth with investment in skills and knowledge to prepare for the future. Revamping the education system can help bridge the talent gap staring at us, especially at the college level that forms the first steps into the professional world. Colleges need to collaborate with the industries to chalk out a curriculum that entails and integrates the technological education and the advancements.

Technical Education plays a vital role in the development of the country's human resource by creating skilled manpower, enhancing industrial productivity and improving the quality of life. This would help to increase the availability of better talent in the job market to be absorbed as in the current scenario, of the 7 lakh engineering students that graduate annually, merely 7 per cent are fit for core engineering jobs. What would also help would be the providing training in not just technical skills but also soft skills or communication skills, preparing them to transform into workers from students.

Most of the institutions do not prepare the candidates for the new working world, making them struggle while facing the competencies of the professional realm. There is a pertinent need to make the graduates come with the basic skills of inter-personal communication, have the ability to speak English, work as a team and possess basic computer knowledge.

Recognizing the need, efforts are being made with positive steps such as National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) and National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF). This will also lead to a paradigm shift in employment from being 'qualification-based' to 'skill-based', making educational institutions focus on imparting skills that lead to employability, rather than merely doling out certificates and degrees. Integrating skills with regular main stream education at schools, will truly change the employment landscape at the most fundamental level in our country

A reinvention will need a vast paradigm shift to develop the tools of change needed to survive in the algorithm age. The demographic dividend if not given the treatment of skills may simply turn into a demographic disaster. The imbalance between the too few skilled workers and fewer jobs for the medium and low-skilled workforce is pointing towards the impending disaster.

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.

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Sanjeev Duggal

Mr Sanjeev Duggal is CEO & MD of Centum Learning and Co- Chairman of FICCI Skill Development Forum. A sociologist by education, he is instrumental in transforming the perception of skills development from need-based to a necessity in India. His passion for people development and entrepreneurship led to the creation of Centum Learning in 2006. Today, Centum is recognized as one of the foremost multinational training and skills company with a presence that spans 21countries.

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