Why skill development should be a major focus for Modi govt

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Published: May 27, 2019 1:27:53 AM

Let’s make sure that these young minds have a real chance at creating value and writing a bright future for India.

To achieve skill development at the scale that is required today, government intervention in terms of policies and campaigns is a must.

As the frenetic pace of change continues, there is a growing sense of urgency towards ensuring that people have the necessary skills and knowledge to survive in the ‘new economy’. With machines becoming ever more powerful, we can soon expect automation, artificial intelligence and robotics to transform several low-end jobs that form a large chunk of jobs today. At the same time, these jobs are expected to be replaced by high-end jobs—of the nature we can’t even predict today.
In its previous term, the NDA government did try to address the same through the National Skill Development Mission (started in 2015) with the vision of skilling at scale with speed and standards. In the new term, we hope the thrust on skills continues and takes a more concrete shape, so that we are well equipped as a country to meet the demands of the future.

Many private companies are trying to do their bit to bolster their talent pool. One notable initiative is companies offering skill-based payouts to encourage employees to embrace new digital technologies. While this is a good start, there’s a lot more that needs to be done. To achieve skill development at the scale that is required today, government intervention in terms of policies and campaigns is a must.

Here are some initiatives we would urge the new government to consider as it crafts its policies for the next five years:

Public-private partnerships: Given the quantum of opportunity that exists in skilling and reskilling, one great approach to tackle this would be to build an effective public-private partnership model with edtech companies at both national and state levels. While the government can ensure that it sets the right standards and certifications, private players can be the change-makers on the ground.

Tax incentives for skill development: We resist change in the absence of a strong stimulus. To stimulate reskilling behaviour amongst the 50 million knowledge workers in our country, the government could consider a tax deduction towards self-improvement or upskilling/reskilling courses. Even if a percentage of these 50 million people opts to use this benefit, the tax loss to the exchequer can be more than compensated through the 18% GST income on such courses. In addition, the potential pay hikes that these people get due to their new skills will drive a corresponding increase in the tax collected.

As India continues to leave its digital footprint on the world and make massive strides, the right talent pool will prove to be an invaluable asset to drive growth. One-million-plus young citizens are joining the workforce every month. Let’s make sure that these young minds have a real chance at creating value and writing a bright future for India.

The author is CEO & founder, Simplilearn. Views are personal

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