Challenges and opportunities

Written by Aditya Malik | Updated: Dec 7 2012, 16:05pm hrs
Data has never been transferred faster and communication has never been more sophisticated than it is right now. The impact of information and communication technologies (ICT) on various industries is far reaching as its transformational effects spread to several sectors of the economy and society. ICT has significantly reduced geographic limitations, allowing people around the globe to share information and ideas freely a major catalyst to globalisation.

Globalisation has created an unprecedented demand for a skilled workforce that is responsive to emerging market needs and is equipped with knowledge. India is no exception to this development. International companies across industries are opening up operations in India. As Indian employers compete with the best in the world, they will increasingly demand the best-trained personnel.

In the medium term, India's surplus labour will coincide with labour shortages in many parts of the world, giving it a chance to provide the workforce for the world. But we can do this only if its trained personnel meet the quality standards demanded internationally. Thus, acquisition of skills is the future of the Indian job market and its global economic clout.

Although the Indian economy has experienced rapid growth in recent years, the low levels of education and formal training of the workforce are a matter of concern. It is becoming increasingly important that we focus on expanding vocational training to enhance skills that are relevant to the emerging economic environment.

Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development of any country. The economy becomes more productive, innovative and competitive from the existence of skilled human potential. The level of employment, its composition and the growth in employment opportunities are critical indicators of the process of development in any economy. The increasing pace of globalisation and technological changes provide both challenges and opportunities for economic expansion and job creation. In taking advantage of these opportunities and in minimising the social costs, which the transition to a more open economy entails, the level and quality of skills that a nation possess are becoming critical factors. Countries with higher and better levels of skills adjust more effectively to the challenges and opportunities of globalisation.

The industrial training institutes and industrial training centres (ITIs/ITCs) offer scope for generating technical skills, but the government needs to expand their network and improve the course content and physical infrastructure. Besides strengthening the ITIs/ ITCs, enablers have to be provided to enhance the employability of students through market linkages, institute industry coordination, specialisation, continued learning, and the like.

Private players have forayed into the vocational training space, and several industries/firms/industry associations have facilitated activity in this area, either directly or indirectly. Further involvement from private players is imperative. The demand for vocational training is also fuelling the demand for trained instructors.

The National Skill Development Corporation has projected the human resource requirement for a host of industry sectors. The demand for vocationally skilled persons is expected to be anywhere between 25% and 85% of the workforce, depending on the nature of the industry. The requirement for such vocationally trained human resource is expected (with skills acquired over a short time-frame and that are modular/job-oriented, over and above those of ITIs/ITCs) to be over 112 million persons between 2008 and 2022, i.e., over 8 million persons annually. The National Policy on Skill Development proposes to develop the capacity to train about 12 to 15 million persons annually. Both challenges and opportunities are huge in this space.

The author is CEO, TalentEdge