With the ever-evolving technological landscape, businesses around the world have experienced a rapid change of skill needs and requirements. This has given rise to another issue in the country: a broadening skills gap. According to recent studies, the Asia-Pacific region is likely to face a shortage of 12.3 million workers by 2020, with the opportunity cost amounting to USD 4.2 trillion. Further, a LinkedIn survey revealed that, within the same period, 42 percent of the core skills required for jobs would change. Without appropriate intervention, this mismatch between market requirements, labor skills and opportunities is expected to grow more acute in the future.
Additionally, in the last decade, India has witnessed a rise in aspiring entrepreneurs and their success stories. Most Indian startups today are on the lookout for newer talent in artificial intelligence, robotics, blockchain technology, etc. and are met with a deficit of aptly skilled labor. Given the need, it is imperative that the existing workforce scenario is revolutionized, in the best interests of industrial growth.
Let us explore some viable measures for bridging the broadening skills gap:
Identifying the problem: The need to reskill and upskill
Skill gaps are a multifaceted issue. Superficially, it could be interpreted as a mismatch between the skills sought by an organization and the unavailability of the sought-after skills. However, in the context of India, there is a certain dichotomy in operation as far as skill gaps are concerned. On the one hand, some graduates need to be trained in newer skills and technologies that organizations presently seek. On the other hand, millions of professionals are rapidly becoming redundant with their present skill sets and need to upskill to stay efficiently employed and equally productive.
As one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, India is expected to grow at 7.7 percent by 2019-20, rising from 7.2 percent in 2017-18. Additionally, it is expected that over 12 million youth between the ages of 15 and 29 will enter India’s labor force annually for the next two decades. As per the government’s recent skill gap analysis, India will require an additional 109 million skilled workers across 24 key sectors. However, only 2.3 percent of the workforce has been through some formal skills training. In this direction, skill development has become one of the government’s core focus areas, with schemes such as the National Skill Development Mission, which aims to train close to 400 million people pan-India by 2022.
Specialized training to facilitate the workforce
Once the problem areas have been identified, and the scope for improvement has been defined, the next step is to utilize the available talent pool aptly. According to a recent LinkedIn survey, the top rising skills for growth are compliance, workflow automation, social media marketing, gesture recognition technology, robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence, gesture-recognition technology, blockchain technology, human-centered design, and front-end web development.
With the rising demand of these new-age skills, there is a need for the academia to collaborate with industry experts to redesign the educational curriculum and make the training of the workforce compliant with the current industry demands. Alongside this, realigning the existing skills to make them more relevant to the ever-changing requirements of the industry is also a viable solution. We need to continually upgrade and upskill to stay relevant because technology education is an ever-evolving process. Here is where online learning platforms have proved to be an effective way for people to equip themselves with an array of relevant and in-demand skills by way of their mentor-driven, project-based curricula, thereby, bridging learning gaps effectively.
Optimizing productivity using new-age technologies
In addition to effectively training of the workforce, technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) and other similar technologies can further augment the productivity of the workforce. According to recent reports, emerging technology will wipe out a significant number of existing roles by 2022, but it will also create almost twice as many (approximately 133 million jobs), within the same time frame. AI is capable of identifying patterns and structures within big data that are beyond human capabilities. In this way, it can predict opportunities for the future, enabling companies to take action and reach profitable solutions based on these opportunities and gain useful insights; thus, helping achieve peak operational optimization. However, it does not entirely do away with the need for human intervention.
Automation can help augment an organization’s productivity significantly by improving efficiency and reducing turnaround time for processes. As machines deal with simpler, monotonous tasks with greater ease and efficiency, humans will be the focus on discerning problems and finding solutions.
Ultimately, the onus for achieving peak operational optimization lies in how resources are utilized. A skilled workforce and automation are the most viable means of achieving the same, but so is the need for creativity and innovation. If development has to occur in the truest sense of the term, we need to continually upgrade, upskill and reskill, to stay relevant and successfully transform the Indian economy.