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Skilling Gap and the way ahead

by Sakshi Chavan



In today’s digitalised world where automation and artificial intelligence are no longer considered the distant future but rather a technological transformation that amplifies business processes and enhances the customer experience, we need our youth to be skilled.


The COVID-19 pandemic has also deepened the existing skill gap, and millions of young people, specifically those marginalized, have now been left with inadequate access to education and skill-development opportunities.


Even before the pandemic, the education and labor system was struggling in its ability to prepare young people with future job skills. Unemployment is not a new issue in our country. According to India Skills Report 2022, only 48.7% of India's youth is employable.


The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) released the unemployment status report of India for December 2021. According to the report, the unemployment rate in the country was 7.91% in December. It was 7% in November. The highest unemployment rates were reported in Haryana (34.1%), Rajasthan (24.1), Jharkhand (17.3%), Bihar (16%), and Jammu and Kashmir (15%).


While the youth population (ages 15 to 24) grew 30% between 1999 and 2019, the labor force participation rate globally decreased by approximately 12%. With automation coming into play, the jobs held by the youth are at risk of being automated, at an accelerating pace. In a survey, 36% of CEOs said they were focused on improving productivity through technology and automation.


The world’s youth deserve much more, and the entire nation has a part to play to ensure their participation in the global economy. From businesses to governments, nonprofits, and NGOs, there is a need to recognize the urgency of this skilling challenge and prepare now for a more sustainable future.


A study made by PwC in association with UNICEF reveals how the skill gap in India can be reduced. The process suggested by the paper includes the following steps:


a) Identify the skills needed for jobs of the digital future

b) Helping the youth obtain the skills necessary

c) Creating a system to certify the skills the youth has acquired


Here are a few suggestions on Closing the Skills Gap:


1) Creating a national skills mapping system that includes a taxonomy of general skills and categories with ways to measure skills competence.

2) Using corporate training to support a national skills-building engine that features proven private-sector upskilling programs and government policy frameworks that are efficient, scalable, and affordable.

3) Building a national digital skills verification trust platform — like a secure distributed ledger or blockchain — that enables youth to register and store their skills credentials.

4) Developing skills forums to improve information-sharing among key stakeholders that address trends in the job market and identify skills gaps, skilling programs, and skills youth need to thrive.


Upskilling


It is another crucial step towards reducing the skill gap. Upskilling is not simply teaching people how to use a new device. That device may be obsolete by next year. The upskilling experience involves learning how to think, act and thrive in a digital world that is sustainable over time.


Understanding what skills are required in a particular country/ or in an organization is equally important.


Answering this question can help to build a pipeline of workers suitably trained for the future labor market that requires both digital and relational skills, whether in regular employment, entrepreneurial ventures, or the gig economy.


Building a national digital skills verification trust.


Beyond interviews, aptitude tests, and online portfolios, employers lack a standardized, low-cost way to verify the skills new employees claim to have — regardless of their formal education level. Creating a global or national verification system enables employers to identify the most useful skills for their current employees and set up new hires for success by indicating what additional training they should consider. Although micro-credentials and digital badging are a start, a national system built on a technology platform such as a distributed ledger or Blockchain will help employees track and store their skill base and provide employers with a trusted and easily verifiable assessment method.


India is one of the youngest nations in the world with the average Indian being 28 years and with 59 percent (88.97 crores) of its population between 20 and 59, India could be the world’s largest pool of youth resource.

To convert this pool into human capital will require a steadfast focus on skilling and education. The skill gap which is a bane can be transformed into a boon for the Indian Economy through our conscious efforts and by embracing technology.

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