“We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” These words from Franklin D. Roosevelt, act as testament of how important it is to nurture the youth of one’s country. Even the United Nations spells 15th July every year as a significant day for the future of the youth all over the world by celebrating World Youth Skills Day to raise awareness for investing in youth skills development and acquiring skills.
Young people are a determining factor in social change, economic development and technological innovation. They are at the centre of economic and political progress. More than 50 per cent of India's current population is below the age of 25 and over 65 per cent is below the age of 35 years. What does this truly imply? How can young people help themselves and the nation? Both practically and professionally? In 2014, on that very day, our Prime Minister recognized the country's 'young' demographic dividend by identifying World Youth Skills Day to set a target of skilling 40.2 crore people by 2022, under the new National Policy for Skill Development, better known as the ‘Skill India’ initiative.
When diving deeper into this, we must look at one key sector which has been the driving force for putting India in the top tier globally. The three-decade-old IT-BPO industry has had great impact on the Indian economy and society, more than any other sector, and within a much shorter time frame. According to the NASSCOM report, by 2020, the IT-BPO industry is expected to account for 10 per cent of India’s GDP and 14 per cent of total services sector revenues, and is projected to create approximately 30 million urban employment (direct and indirect) by 2020. On the flip side, it’s not a coincidence that India has a tremendously rich and diverse heritage with mathematics with India or Indians responsible for the introduction of decimal system as well as the invention of zero. Even the Pythagoras theorem, is suspected to have found a place in India dating back to about 800 BC—more than 200 years before Pythagoras was born.
Fast forward again, to present day, and we are in the thick of India's rising digital quotient. It’s not surprising that India’s chief information officers (CIOs) are widely regarded to be on par with their global counterparts in terms of innovation, efficiency and security. They are championing the revolutionary digital growth era, facing disruptive technologies. As we surge forward with initiatives like Digital India, the nation will need highly skilled information technology professionals for this insatiable demand. Information technology sector being an enabler, it affects the entire economy across industry and a lack of skilled labor can have a domino effect. Computer engineers, system analysts, computer scientists, programmers and security professionals will be worth their weight in gold. Let’s take the example of cyber security. Considering that every second data we read about a breach, the CTO (Chief Technology Officer) and CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) have become pillars of the boardroom. Coupled with rapid digitization and digital & social giving birth to new age job titles, it’s imperative to have a quality professionals on the payroll for organizations.
The push towards digitization is demanding and we will need to harness our greatest strength, our young population. It is important that this isn't an afterthought rather present by design, rather than as a bolt-on while nurturing our young assets. This will ensure India’s transformation to a knowledge-based economy and be the leading destination for offshore IT services.
What can shape a robust and sustainable pipeline?
Grass root education
Parents and the youth need to look at technology professionals in the same light as a doctor or an engineer, they need to understand that it can be rewarding. Incorporating practical learning into academic programs would help anticipate students and their guardians for eventualities.
Board of directors must understand the value of technology and its workforce. A corporate push to promote the cause internally and externally will help supplement the government efforts
Over the years, India has become a major supplier of skilled and talented young people to the Western countries especially from the engineering field. With most of the developed nations having growth limitations and an economic slowdown, India needs to step up to retain homegrown talent.
Certainly there is a need to empower the youth of the country in a multidimensional. The only way the nation will overcome the skill development challenge is by speedily and effectively empowering the youth with the necessary skill training and knowledge, thus sending a message to young people, that the sky is not the limit, it’s just the beginning.