How, in 2019 and beyond, skilling can raise the bar of human capital in India
India stood a low 103rd on the World Economic Forum’s Global Human Capital Index 2017—which ranked 130 countries on how well they are developing human capital. Broad-based formal education is yet not accessible by young people, and university-level education is still limited to a quarter of the people eligible for it. This points out the need for a broadened access to formal, basic and higher education systems, as well as reskilling and upskilling opportunities for the current workforce.
Although India’s educational attainment rate has grown, the country is way behind other leading emerging markets. Adding to the burden is the Fourth Industrial Revolution that has resulted in digital disruption, massively impacting industries across verticals. A Nasscom report earlier stated that nearly 40% of the estimated 40 lakh IT workforce in India will need reskilling over the next few years to keep pace with technologies like augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, AI, machine learning, cloud computing, big data analytics and Internet of Things.
Human capital is as crucial as machines and technology. It denotes knowledge, skill sets and motivation that people have. But people aren’t born with skill sets or knowledge. They acquire these through skilling and education. More educated workers will generate higher earnings, which will eventually increase the country’s economic growth through additional spending. There is a huge gap between academic knowledge and the needs of a digitally-powered industry, for which adjustments must be made in developing, utilising and maintaining human capital to help them shift to new domains seamlessly.
Dwindling job opportunities have led to many educational institutes revisiting the curricula and making them more practical, interesting and job-oriented. It is important that the higher education system churns out graduates who have a fair understanding of how new-age workplaces function—students should be able to move across jobs and sectors outside their specialisations. In a world where boundaries between domains are fast blurring, students cannot be restricted to a single-stream of knowledge. Emphasis should be on industry-academia partnerships, as they keep educational institutes in tune with changing industry requirements and drive them to introduce programmes that respond directly to their demands. In the age of digital education, students can pick up short-term online courses and keep themselves updated with developments across sectors.
The future is usually uncertain. The only way to deal with ambiguous situations is to strengthen the core of the country—its human capital. After all, only a well-skilled, knowledge-rich and healthy population can make way for a futuristic workforce that can power the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The author is founder & CEO, Safeducate, the logistics training provider