By R Anandakrishnan
Manufacturing is emerging as a high growth sector. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative aims to place India on the world map as a manufacturing hub. At the same time, it is also true that the Indian manufacturing sector is grappling with skills gap between educational institutes and the industry. This is true for the automotive sector, as it is for many other sectors in manufacturing. In fact, with massive technological transformation happening across sectors, companies have to keep pace with the constantly shifting landscape, as do individuals, to meet the ever-evolving demands of a modern-day job.
Acquiring new skills (upskilling) is key to sustaining in this dynamic landscape. Bridging the skills gap has been a consistent endeavour from both institutes and corporates. While there are programmes in place, they are not reflecting the change at the same pace as the change witnessed by the industry.
India has the advantage of a ‘demographic dividend’—a large and young working-age population that can power the country’s transformation from a developing economy to a developed one. India is set to become the youngest big country in the world by 2020, and is projected to be home to 20% of the global working-age population by 2025 with 64% of the population in the working-age group. Such a ‘demographic dividend’ comes along only once in several generations, making it crucial that India harnesses its potential.
Becoming the youngest country also means that the demand for jobs will see a substantial growth, thus amplifying the challenges in the job market. “Of all the students entering the job market, hardly two-fifth meet the criteria of employment set by the employers,” found the India Skills Report 2017, put together by talent assessment firm Wheebox and supported by the CII and the United Nations Development Programme, among others.
The increasing adoption of artificial intelligence and robotics is only set to exacerbate the problem. In its ‘Future of Jobs’ report published in 2016, the World Economic Forum predicted technology will make 5 million jobs redundant worldwide by 2020.
The government is implementing the Skill India mission on a war-footing, which aims to train 40 crore people in different skills by 2022. But how can companies contribute better to support this programme?
Something as simple as an internship, for instance, can take students outside of the classroom environment so they can apply their skills in a real-world setting.
There are several companies that actively recruit interns. At TVS Motor Company, for example, we run a well-rounded internship and recruitment programme called Utkarsh, where we work with reputed engineering colleges in India with parameters such as entry criteria, standards, the aspiration and engagement of the student community, curriculum, pedagogy, infrastructure, placement and certifications. Colleges are evaluated by a rigorous audit by a specialist committee, with 15-20 invited to participate every year. Students from the selected colleges can apply online. After a multi-stage assessment process, about 40 students a year from over 1,000 applicants make it through. Internships typically last 6-8 weeks and coincide with inter-semester breaks, and interns are given opportunities to pursue and solve industry-level problems as part of both their pre-final and final year co-curricular pursuits.
Such a timely industry experience in the middle of academic semester provides tools for students to apply the learning in college and subsequently jobs. Regular interventions like this will go a long way in upping the skill sets of young individuals.
Author is senior vice-president, HR and IT, TVS Motor Company. Views are personal