A little over 50% of India’s population is under the age of 25 and 65% under 35. People in this age group can be a productive workforce if equipped with the right skills. While we are doing well in digital revolution and technology, some sectors like hospitality and tourism have vast opportunities that can be tapped more effectively. Tourism has a significant potential in India considering our rich cultural heritage, history and ecology—making the sector a potentially large employment generator.
According to World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013, India ranked 11th in the Asia-Pacific region and 65th globally, out of 140 economies, on the list of global travellers’ favourite tourism destinations. The good news is that the travel and tourism sector has grown exponentially in recent years, witnessing a growth rate of 10.7% year-on-year—in 2016, as many as 88.9 lakh foreign tourists arrived in India, compared to 80.27 lakh in 2015.
The government has rightly identified tourism and hospitality as one of the 29 sectors that are priority areas for skill development—as this sector faces a major skills gap in business management, operations and customer service. By imparting specialised skills, we can create lakhs of jobs in this sector. Training the youth on skills such as business communication in English, national and foreign languages, and customer service will help the hospitality industry grow manifold.
Even as under the umbrella of the government’s Skill India Mission there are skill development centres, education institutions and other agencies that are working on imparting the required skills, the Indian industry and corporates should view skills gap in sectors such as tourism and hospitality as an opportunity to contribute to the cause of nation-building. In particular, they can play a critical role by reaching out to the young population in rural areas—a majority of whom have limited access to vocational training for skill development—as part of their CSR activities to educate and empower them. This will create job opportunities and help them earn their livelihood in rural India itself—which is yet another focus area of tourism and hospitality—controlling mass migration to cities and towns.
Founder and CEO, OYO