Wednesday, August 4, 2021

For India to become a skilled nation…

“We believe that through the power of skills individuals, communities, and countries are propelled towards a more prosperous future,” declared UNO in November 2014. The General Assembly of the UNO held that year resolved that July 15 of every year shall be celebrated as ‘World Youth Skills Day.’  It recognized that in order to overcome unemployment and issues related to underemployment and move forward in the path of socioeconomic development skill development is essential. Since then, UNO and the member countries have been celebrating this day (July 15) as ‘World Youth Skills Day.’

Important decade

Things have not been happening as envisaged by the UNO. The youth in developing counties and underdeveloped countries are far away from skills. The conclusions of a recent survey in South Asian countries conducted by UNICEF and Global Business Co-evolution for Education (GBCE) were  despairing. According to the survey, fifty percent of Indian youth in coming ten years, by 2030, would not be able to get education and skills which enable them to get jobs. It means these youth are denied jobs because they did not learn the skills that are required according to changing conditions. These young people do not have skills needed for jobs in 21st century. By 2040, 180 crore young 25-year old people would be stepping into labour market in South Asia.

90% of the unemployed would be Indians

It is a fact that among them, 90 percent would be from our country. The technical development taking place every day is looking for a lot of skills from workers, employees and other people in different vocations. Physical force would not drive production, construction or other developments as happened earlier. Even today there are a very few people who are technically skilled in our country.  Of those youth who study professional engineering courses one out of four would have enough skills for jobs. Among ordinary graduates one in ten will be eligible for employment. In neighboring countries like China, Japan and South Korea, the number of skilled young men and women is much higher. Statistics show that these countries have 90 percent of youth who are skilled. That is why these countries have registered phenomenal growth in manufacture sector. It is well known that cars made in Japan occupy pride of space in our automobile market. It is no exaggeration to say that the electric and electronic goods made in South Korea are seen in every household world over.

We are in the 4th Industrial Revolution

Moreover, the economies cannot survive in the old fashion anymore. The GBC mentioned earlier had carried out another survey. “Preparing tomorrow’s workforce for the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” was the title of the report. It says we have had three industrial revolutions so far and stepped into the fourth. The report made it clear that all the skills that led the earlier three revolutions would undergo changes and the youth should be prepared to transform accordingly.  

The first industrial revolution was dominated by mechanization and steam engines. The second industrial revolution was marked by huge profits and production surpassing the estimates. The internet has come to lead the third industrial revolution. The fourth industrial revolution would imbibe all these factors while robotics, artificial intelligence, digitalization and skills of automation would be driving. Accordingly,  the nature of jobs and occupations in all areas are getting transformed. Recently many national and international organizations have been visualizing the professional and vocational courses that will have relevance to the future.

Future employment opportunities

They have identified some 20 professions in internet and computer fields. Cloud computing, UX design and digital journalism are expected to have better future. Agricultural research will be important and field officers, biochemists, crop science managers, agricultural educators will be in demand for employment. In health care, nurses, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, massage therapist, medical assistants who take care of the patients in the absence of physicians will have opportunities. Even in manufacturing sector there are going to be a lot of changes. This area will have more of automation.  Some jobs will not be there in future and they are innumerable. Drivers, couriers, clerks, pilots, librarians and many more such positions would disappear.

Skills should be part of education : Rangarajan

The governments, education experts, economists and politicians will have to keep all these developments in mind while deciding the path of skill development for the youth for the future of the country. However, the training in skills being offered by the Central government has become a ritual. It has given partial benefits. That is why the whole process has to be reviewed and reassessed. C. Rangarajan, an economist who was also Governor of undivided Andhra Pradesh said (in 2014), “The skill development is taking place outside the schools and colleges. But that would not be enough…But the fact is if our country were to become a Skill India, the skill training should become part of education. This has to be incorporated in the syllabus. Skill training should be part of school and collegiate education.”

After finishing education the youth would like to join jobs and settle down in life. They would not be keen on learning new skills. The rulers have to understand this fact. Some 20 crore youth are in streets with degrees in hand. But they don’t have proper skill set. There are plenty of resources in the country. But we don’t have skills to exploit them. This is the dichotomy. If this crisis is not resolved the discontent that would manifest during the fourth industrial revolution would engulf the whole society. It is not difficult to imagine the intensity of the situation when crores of people starve without jobs and employment putting a question mark against their very existence.

(July 15, World Youth Skills Day)

Laxmaiah Mallepalli
Mallepalli Lakshmaiah is a special officer of Buddhavanam project and founder chairman, Centre for Dalit Studies. He writes a weekly column for Sakshi, a Telugu daily. He is a Dalit intellectual, Ambedkarite and a Buddhist.

1 COMMENT

  1. Skill development and skill upgradation is a continuous learning process.,where technology updates fast with intervention of information technology as a tool for socio economic development. if one has to stand in his profession, skill
    Upgradation quite often is essential… skill development at entry level is now being addressed by industry to hire people suiting to their requirements. Government is also on it own providing industry grade skill to youth in communication and sot skills as well as domain knowledge through its organs like Skill Development Councils, and at state lele like AP IT Acadamy, Telangan Acadamy for Skills and knowledge etc. Even then, the industry acceptance of finished graduates is about 15-20% only now, alot needs to be done to address the issue of skill development as a whole

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