There has been growing concern about job creation in the context of increase in automation and several roles becoming redundant as a result in every industry. The IT industry, the darling of the Indian economy, is in the midst of assessing the requirement of talent pool in the coming years which would mean upskilling for some and elimination of roles for several others. Several IT services firms are bracing up to the reality of technology shifts towards automation and from managing legacy systems to moving towards developing digital solutions, leading to the need to plan and execute business differently with new skills and less resources. According to a McKinsey report, nearly half of the workforce in the IT services companies will become ‘irrelevant’ in the next 3-4 years. Manufacturing, banking and hospitality industry have started experiencing change on account of deployment of robots and Internet of Things (IoT), as a result of which the calibre of resources and the size of talent pool required would no longer be the same as in the current scenario.
The reality of loss of jobs has become a global phenomenon and every country is grappling with the urgent need to find appropriate solutions. For India, it is of top most concern due to the size of population and the country having the largest pool of youth below 25 years. Even though the GDP growth was 54% in the period 2005-2012, the net job creation was only 3% with 15 million jobs having been added. By 2025 there will be 80 million job seekers but with over 93% of the jobs continuing to be in the informal sector, there is likely to be a gap of 50 million jobs. As per the recent report of People Strong, India will account for the maximum impact – a quarter of the job cuts due to automation globally by 2021. The current challenge is not just restricted to new job creation but is also centered around the loss of existing jobs. Hence the subject of job creation can no longer be focused around skill development alone but needs an urgent, comprehensive and multidimensional integrated approach that is capable of delivering transformational outcomes.
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In addition to the thrust on understanding the requirements of new skills in every sector and readying the youth for these opportunities in a systematic manner, industry-academic co-operation will become crucial in the coming days. With every dimension of the society and industry being impacted by AI, machine learning and analytics, it is imperative to embed data science in every discipline of education right from higher secondary stage. Even today, the most innovative and path breaking technologies emerge from the Western world. In order to foster innovation and entrepreneurship aggressively, we would require to build new and robust frameworks for research institutions and businesses to be able to build healthy and purposeful partnerships. Instead of individuals or established businesses alone bringing about innovation and entrepreneurship, a new approach of proactively opening up the research labs and showcasing the innovations ready for commercial exploitation and engineering partnerships with those interested could enable a new wave of entrepreneurship to flourish by creating new offerings and new markets. Currently such opportunities may be accessible only by those who work within the institutions and have access to research projects under way but a conscious collaborative model is required to seed millions of entrepreneurial establishments.
We need to think of new business models to prosper and succeed in the digital world. In addition to the capitalist-entrepreneurial approaches, since scaling of businesses require replication of capabilities and funds, it would be meaningful to emulate Amul’s successful co-operative model in the context of doing business digitally. Successful e-commerce businesses, for instance, call for several shades of local nuances and customised servicing capabilities but the technologies, processes and partnerships required to scale the businesses could be leveraged centrally and producers invited to participate in a co-operative model where the returns could be shared and millions given sustainable livelihood opportunities.
Skilling and upskilling will both continue to be extremely important and will require to be more dynamic and pertinent to the business needs of specific clusters. We need sharper focus on the skills required for the digital age as well as on the temperament to be created to become self-employed on the backbone of digital access. Digital literacy centres being set up under the National Digital Literacy Mission should also cater to digital livelihood creation possibilities both in the rural and urban domains based on the requirements of the population that could be served. We need new models of schooling, particularly for those from low income groups where we teach children skills and concepts that would ready them for digital occupations in 15 years of education. The fear of not being able to find jobs or hold on to their current jobs should be converted to positive energy by educating them and supporting them on the possibilities of being self employed and creating an optimistic mindset of assuming ownership for their futures. Models like the Lighthouses in Pune where the fundamental focus
is on agency creation and determination of aspiration with the youth should be emulated elsewhere in the country as a stepping stone towards sustainable livelihoods. India has been a country which over several centuries has learnt to cope with extreme challenges with its will to adapt and survive. This DNA should support the next generation to leapfrog on the strength of its demographic dividend, the digital access and the immense possibilities of innovation.
The writer is CEO, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company