Skills development is a critical aspect of any nation’s economic as well social growth and development, especially in a country like India where the demographic transition calls for higher employment opportunities for millions of employable youths entering the market each year. In this blog we explore ways in which organizations can tackle the challenges of reskilling and upskilling their workforce in the face of a looming economic slowdown, technological disruptions and the future of work.  

With half of India’s population (1.3 billion) below the age of 25 and the average age of the population set to reach 29 by 2020 (as opposed to 47 years in Japan, 40 years in United States and 46 years in Europe), there is a greater chance of India’s demographic dividend providing disappointing results than boosting economic growth, as the nation continues to struggle with unemployment, lack of employment opportunities, skills gaps and technology adoption.

India’s Widening Skills Gap

As the fastest growing economy in the world, India stands to benefit largely from its employable population. However, with 104.62 million-strong workforce set to enter the labor market by 2022, with only 1% of the population making up 22% of national income, India’s lower skills intensity presents a mammoth challenge, whereas Indian organizations need to focus on the development of its workforce with relevant knowledge and skills to effectively complement the country’s growth. However, to achieve this result, India needs its diverse industries to embrace as well as propagate skills training programs for their existing and future employees with meaningful certifications with effective and sustainable long-term skills development strategies.

Although it’s easier said than done, Indian organizations have long been wary of the double edged sword that is India’s dual challenge of a lack of highly skilled labor on one hand and the un-employability of large sets of educated population with no relevant job skills. This is apparent in the fact that there are already severe gaps in industry demands and the skill level of the workforce. There are many reasons contributing to this factor, including insufficient training facilities/ opportunities, mismatch between skills and education, limited industry inputs among others.

Clearly, India’s skill development ecosystem is leaning more towards formal education and rarely accommodates vocational training. With such kind of detachment amid formal education and work demands, the skill gap challenges will only escalate, calling for concerted efforts to ensure sustained skills development and employability. However, to address the skills gap and transform the skill development ecosystem to accommodate the industry demands, organizations must define and adopt efficient, scalable and sustainable employee training programs.

Tackling Skill Development Challenges

Although India has a range of skilling programs at the government level, including Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) of the Central Government, Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Directorate of General Training (DGT) and Basic Training Centers, training programs from departments like commerce and industry, agriculture, housing and poverty alleviation etc., the country has merely trained over 4.5% of its total workforce, whereas a recent report suggests that only 18% of individuals participating in vocational courses got employed.

As worrying as these statistics are, there is a growing danger of Indian organizations failing to exploit the opportunity of benefiting from the demographic dividend if the nation’s young workforce is not skilled as per industry standards. The answer to tackling the skill development challenges is deeply rooted in corporate Learning & Development (L&D) and training delivery tools and solutions.

With global technology titans like Amazon, Google and Microsoft marking a larger presence across India, the country’s corporate sector is being significantly influenced by global L&D practices. Leading organizations across the country are now leveraging modern eLearning platforms and innovative learn-tech tools to support a host of objectives, including employee upskilling and reskilling.

According to Nitin Bawankule, Industry Director, Google India, “The online education segment is set to become a multi-billion dollar opportunity in India. There are many factors driving this growth including the perceived convenience, increased reach and personalization offered by online channels.” There is no doubt that India’s potential for learning technology adoption and growth remains significantly promising, given the sheer amount of Internet (and mobile) users in the country, coupled with the rising number of employable individuals looking for the availability of reskilling opportunities.

According to Nasscom, the increasing adoption of big data and analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) is set to drive the cloud market growth in India towards a $ 7.1 billion industry by 2022. It certainly wouldn’t be too farfetched to include Learning Management Systems (LMS) in this growth trend.

Learning technology solutions and eLearning programs will continue to bring key advantages to India’s corporate sector. A country as economically, geographically and culturally diverse as India will benefit from the wide ranging learn-tech solutions, including Mobile Learning (anytime-anywhere learning, on-the-go learning etc.), multi-lingual support, virtual class rooms, blended learning and social learning to name a few. And, with the availability of online learning libraries (through an LMS), employees and organizations have access to limitless number of learning resources at their beck and call.

It is important to note that few of these solutions are especially critical for Indian organizations’ L&D initiatives as they help navigate the regional, cultural and lingual barriers. Furthermore, one of the most advantageous aspects of modern day learn-tech tools for Indian businesses is their ability to provide individuals placed in remote towns and villages the access to world-class learning resources, at affordable prices, thus creating a sense of equal opportunity.

Considering the significant skills gap facing the country, Indian organizations need to step up their L&D game to match the global standards. And, one of the very first steps towards achieving this aim is to start aggressively integrating learning technology into India’s growing corporate landscape. This means customizing eLearning approaches and online learning content delivery mechanisms to meet the evolving needs of India’s diverse population.

Takeaway

When used responsibly and intelligently, learning technology can gauge the learners’ requirements, analyze their learning behaviors as well as provide insights into improving the learning process. Finally, learning is an unending process and technology is indispensable to our everyday lives. Thus, learning technology and eLearning certainly have a key role to play in tackling the skill development challenges in India, not only in 2019 but also in the foreseeable future.

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