Skills For Job Creation Is The New Infrastructure

Skills For Job Creation Is The New Infrastructure

Skills for job creation at scale is the new infrastructure so India can achieve her potential in a structured way

India, with FY22-23 GDP of Rs 273.08 lakh crore and 6.5 per cent growth forecast (FY23-24), make her fastest growing economy, adding 1.2 crore to working population annually. Nearly half are employed in Agriculture, while other half is in Industry and Services. 

India has twin advantage of favourable demographics and rapid digital penetration. Industry 4.0 supported by Gig economy is opening up range of opportunities for youth. However, India’s skill deficit of c.2.9 crore professionals by 2030 can impact GDP by c.Rs 168 lakh crore making target GDP of Rs 850 lakh crore by 2030 challenging. 

Unemployment at 8.3 per cent due to this skill gap is dragging India’s growth down. Digitisation is driving automation and workforce is not becoming employable in digital era swiftly. Only a quarter of India’s graduates are employable as they lack core skills, finishing skills and apprenticeships/internships to practice new skills acquired. With unemployment being highest in 15-29 age group and large drop-outs from education system it presents a future social nightmare. 

Hence, India’s biggest problem is bridging skill gap for job creation at scale. India’s GDP can grow to Rs 3,400 lakh crore (i.e., 1.5 folds current US Economy), if working-age population gets employment. India needs National Doctrine with four strong pillars – mindset, structure, building blocks and values. 

Make cars so highways can be built

Tomorrow’s world belongs to the skilled, not just educated. Making a population skilled so jobs can be created is similar to making cars first so highways can be built. India’s current institutional framework of National Skill Development Mission, NEP 2020, Samagra Shiksha, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, are in the right direction and is an excellent Gen 1.0 foundation to build on. 

To make India’s youth skilled and employable calls for a shift in India’s education system from emphasis on knowledge to its application. In Gen 2.0, skills training will have to start from primary school and culminate at higher education with internships/apprenticeships built-in for 3 months every 3 years. Employers and investors will get a protégé with depth and breadth of skill-based expertise, not just superficial skills with academic knowledge. 

Industry has to partner with Government in PPP for synergistic next generation platform –                          Advanced Integrated Mission for Skills (AIMS) – for skill ecosystem customised to deliver high quality, well-trained Talent Supply Chain (i.e., cars) to meet emerging industry demands across Climate-smart Agriculture, Quantum Computing, AI, Robotics, Space, Advanced Manufacturing and Green Economy. AIMS can create long-term impact amongst learners, employers/investors and Government so jobs are created and start-ups incubated (i.e., highways) to power India in Industry 4.0 and beyond. 

When rubber meets the road

AIMS has five structural elements. 1. Testing at point-of-entry and continuously through Learner’s journey, 2. Capability Building of Educators, 3. Partner Ecosystem for Content, Internships/Apprenticeships/Jobs/Capital, 4. Hybrid infrastructure with technology across Skill Spokes (4121, Assembly Constituency level), Skill Hubs (766, District level) and Skill Universities (36 Indian Institute of Skills, State Capital and Union Territory level) and 5. National Command Control Centre with linkages to India’s 766 Skill Hubs for real-time data, interventions, monitoring of results/impact for skills and job creation.  

India has renowned experts in the country and outside. Drive to bring them to Skills Training in India’s 15.53 Lakh Schools, Colleges and Universities, with half their time to Train-the-Trainer (i.e., existing 97 lakh educators) will create core capability across the learning ecosystem.     

AIMS with Skills + Internship = Employability + Entrepreneurship platform must have best-in-class partners for content, internships/apprenticeships, jobs and capital. Government and Industry should be joint owners of this platform for cohesive commitment to outcomes, i.e., bridge skills gap and create jobs at scale.

Cross the checkered flag

Committed long-term investments are critical to success of AIMS. South Korea is apt case study. 

After Korean War (c.1953), her GDP was agrarian and c.Rs 4,250 crore. Investing in skills through education and training at c.7.5 per cent of GDP – c.5 per cent from Government and c.2.5 per cent from industry – she grew to GDP of Rs 153 lakh crore (ROI: 1300 per cent). South Korea today is c.60 per cent of India’s GDP with 5 per cent of her population. 

India can achieve similar with SPV in Union Ministry of Skill Development to own AIMS jointly with State/UT Governments and Industry, funded through PPP at 0.75 per cent of blended GDP (i.e., 2.75 lakh crore) annually (c.Rs 95,000 per learner), 51 per cent from Government and 49 per cent from Industry (as commercial investment, not CSR) secured through sovereign guarantee so capital cost is low. Cumulatively, Rs 19.25 lakh crore (2023-2030) can potentially deliver c.Rs 168 lakh crore in 2030 (ROI: 875 per cent, higher than private sector investment). 

Skills for job creation at scale is the new infrastructure so India can achieve her potential in a structured way and become First World Nation in our lifetime.    

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