Fuelling a Nation of Technically Skilled Professionals
Even with the talent pool’s promising disposition, the potential of India’s business ecosystem stands marred because of the scarcity of relevant skill sets required to harness the potential of new technologies, says Makarand Joshi, Area Vice President & Country Head, India Subcontinent, Citrix.
As Digital India progresses across the country and businesses embrace digital transformation in pursuit of increased productivity, we need to focus on the future of talent. Talent shortages have been well publicised and economies that train and prepare younger generations for the jobs of the future are ranking high on the global scale for digital preparedness. India needs to aim for the top of this list. As a country with large population of young working professionals and a booming potential workforce waiting in the wings, as post millennials work their way through high school, we have a huge opportunity to upskill and become the talent pool for not only Indian businesses in the future, but a talent pool demanded by companies and economies across the globe.
“Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do).” says Stephen R. Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. With the internet boom and new age technological tools that have enabled vast digitization, access to knowledge has never been easier for businesses and employees alike. While these businesses possess the desire to harness knowledge, what they lack is a skilled labour force which will catalyse the process and drive accelerated business growth.
Technology’s rapid advancement and the ripples created by its impact are visible across industries. The world has already embarked onto the next stage of digital transformation that is driven by technologies like cloud, AI and data analytics led primarily by a workforce of millennials who are enabling positive outcome across sectors. In fact, according to a Morgan Stanley research report, more than 400 million millennials in India who were born after 1982, make up 46% of our workforce. This dynamic group, referred to as digital natives, possess tech savvy skills and have a technology oriented ‘work anywhere’ mentality.
Even with the talent pool’s promising disposition, the potential of India’s business ecosystem stands marred because of the scarcity of relevant skill sets required to harness the potential of new technologies. For a country that thrives on a large population of young working professionals, skilling in relevant fields has never played a more important role than it does today. The skilling issue has further been fuelled by decline in the number of students taking up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related subjects.
Over the years, businesses have also realised that machines are incapable of replacing the human mind. This has led to creation of newer jobs in fields like cloud, data analytics and AI that necessitate a certain skills profile. Having said that, the dated nature of the education curriculum has played a detrimental role. The current curriculum does not provide the right platforms for students to cultivate an innovative and design thinking technical approach to problem solving. This has therefore resulted in a scenario characterized by young professionals missing out on prospects due to lack of pre-requisite skill sets.
What cannot be ignored is the direct relation of unskilled employees on hiring for skill-specific job roles. Because of the prevalent dearth, businesses, in a bid to optimally utilize the labour resource at disposal, have started investing in training programs to ensure qualified recruits are given the opportunity to upskill.
With the realization of the looming threat of unskilled labour setting in, the Government of India has been taking positive strides to address the glaring issue of skills gap. With an intent to promote design thinking and a spirit of curiosity along with skills in areas like computational thinking, the government has introduced initiatives like Niti Aayog’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) that also includes Atal Tinkering Labs.
As we peer into the future, we must focus on curbing the widening skills gap and promote STEM careers to ensure that we are putting our best foot forward for the overall growth of the economy. All pertinent stakeholders like organizations, educational institutes and government must collaborate and invest in safeguarding the skills and talent of the young workforce of the future. According to UNDP’s (United Nations Development Program) India Skills Report 2018, overall employability has risen from 40.44% to 45.60% during 2017. Earlier this year, the Prime Minister of India launched NASSCOM’s “Future Skills” platform, a platform that provides skilling in eight major technologies namely, virtual reality, AI, robotic process automation, IoT, big data analytics, 3D printing, cloud computing, social and mobile. This is a healthy indication that the collaborative efforts of the government and other academic and business institutions have been moving in the right direction to yield positive results.
A focus to consciously invest in resources and time for skilling for the future, re-skilling and upskilling current talent and promoting STEM careers to post millennials, will go a long way to closing the skill gap and setting India up for future digital success. If successful in channelling the potential of young minds, the possibilities to empower India’s workforce and strengthen the economy are endless.