Being a country of 1.3 billion with a median age of about 29, India is demographically poised to meet the talent needs of the global economy. However certain factors restrain the ability of India to exploit the competitive edge. Firstly, a number of emerging technologies and increased mechanization threatens to make demographic advantage a demographic nightmare. Secondly, India struggles with unemployable pass outs churned by educational institutes while corporates struggle for talent. As per India Skills report released by AICTE, the percentage availability of employable talent in India has seen progressive growth from 37.22% in 2015 to about 47.38% in 2019. Despite steady improvement, India languishes out there among the worst nations with such dismal figures.
The New Educational Policy is a significant one in a bid to fundamentally alter the talent market in the long term. The flaws in Indian Education system were always well known but a major reform has eluded the sector even as private enterprises filled the gap by providing skill development courses. Despite private educational institutes and vocational training centres filling the gap, an abysmally low number of workforce undergo formal training. Consequently, a number of corporates invest heavily in training programs. With developments in technology, it’s not just blue collared workers whose livelihoods are under threat. Most of the white collar jobs have a technological element right from clerical jobs in banks and financial institutions to Production incharge of a manufacturing shop floor. However despite the sustained efforts by government and private enterprises to improve the quality of human resources in India, the long term positive impact is under a cloud of emerging technologies which can undo the Government and corporate efforts in this direction.
Ever since the dawn of the era of mechanization, blue collared workers and labourers had borne the brunt of declining demand forcing downward pressure on wages. With Artificial intelligence, white collar jobs are increasingly under the radar of machines and threaten to fundamentally alter the way human resources are hired. While verdict is divided even among tech fraternity whether AI will live upto its promises, there is unanimity that AI will replace many managerial functions which are repetitive in nature and can be judged in an objective manner. Whether or not, AI algorithms will ever replace qualities of human leadership, empathy and vision, a sizable number of skillsets may just be outdated even without accounting for such an outcome.
The corporate world is already seeing increased use of Tech as a suffix for even conventional positions. Technology has permeated every segment of operations and financial services is becoming fintech and healthcare is becoming healthtech. The world is moving towards an era where everything right from clerical work to CXO level positions will require tech interface. HR-tech will result in automation of a number of processes, improve record keeping, track performance and streamline processes with minimal human interface. The human element in Human resource practices will drastically reduce paving way for higher reliance on tech.
With increased prevalence of tech, corporates heavy on tech skillsets are going to find it difficult to retain the competitive edge. Skillsets like coding will slowly give way to design elements and creative thinking in a bid to withstand the competition. Design thinking is a cornerstone to an innovative organization and technology in the foreseeable future cannot catch up with the inspiration, serendipity, iteration and intuition involved in the craft of innovative thinking. On the contrary, greater availability of tech tools to implement and carry out routine work will enable higher allocation of time and resources to innovation.
The explosion in remote work amidst the pandemic led to acceleration in digital transformation and surge in risks associated with Data. While bluechip companies with higher stakes face vulnerabilities with respect to nation-state attacks, zero trust and ransomware, cybersecurity infrastructure is almost non-existent in Indian context in a large number of companies. While a number of functions in an organization may face irrelevance, it will be accompanied by corresponding surge in human resource requirement in the function of protecting machines from vulnerability and offer new avenues for skilled professionals. The exposure to vulnerabilities over the years will compel smaller companies to seek dedicated departments to secure their data.
As per Future of Jobs Report of World Economic Forum, for the first time in history, more tasks will be completed by machines than people in the year 2025. With developments in robotics aided by AI and analysis using Data, skilled human resources would face themselves directly in competition to robots. Covid 19 fast tracked the developments in robotics by necessitating contact-less delivery. The coming years will see developments in robotics taking over a number of functions formerly a domain of human beings.
Indian corporates like its global counterparts are at a cusp of far reaching changes and high churn in the talent market with a number of factors impacting skill requirements and outdated skills. Unemployment problems in the country will acquire renewed dimensions as technological changes outpace skill development requirements. The need of the hour for policymakers is to emphasize immediate formal skill training while also undertaking systematic changes in the Education sector for the long haul.