India today has one of the biggest advantages when it comes to the growth of the economy and that is the youth. As per the World Economic Forum, 13 million people join India’s workforce each year, creating a huge potential for the growth of the economy. However, this demographic dividend cannot be utilised due to the lack of employability of the workforce. When it comes to graduates, only a tenth are employable, pointing to a lack of employable skills. While academic training focuses on increasing comprehension and knowledge, vocational skills are necessary to bring students up-to-date on the current and emerging roles which are required by industries.
Manufacturing and allied trades are important avenues of employment for skilled workers. The rapid rise of the gig economy in India has also led to the creation of several jobs in the formal sector. A large workforce is required to cover the widening consumer base which extends to Tier 2 and 3 towns and cities. In many of these cities, people use their skills in trades like refrigeration and air conditioning, retail sales services, carpentry and plumbing as a route to self-employment. Therefore, large-scale initiatives for skill development must be decentralised and aim to tap the talent pool that smaller cities have to offer. A great way to do this is by leveraging existing infrastructure in the form of Government Industrial and Vocational Training Institutes (ITIs and VTIs).
The recent disruptions in the industry – such as remote working – due to COVID, and climate concerns have accelerated the shift to digital solutions across sectors. The increasing emphasis on sustainability by businesses is reflected in the tremendous surge in the number of green jobs. In the manufacturing sector, green job creation is driven by the Industry 4.0 revolution which has advanced transitions to artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of things (IoT). AI and IoT necessitate a digitally skilled workforce which is conversant with the application of technology and its maintenance.
Source: Ashwini Deodeshmukh
However, developing the relevant skills in young persons is a major gap that needs to be addressed. Particularly in Tier 2 and 3 towns and cities where young graduates often lack hands-on exposure, vocational skills prove to be an essential means of increasing their chances of gaining employment. Effective digital skill development programs for the manufacturing sector require the active participation of the industry, given its knowledge of the requirements for current and emerging roles.
Collaborations between company CSR initiatives, government programs and academia can help in leveraging the existing training infrastructure to scale up and reach a large number of youths. For vocations involving digital skills, such collaborations can also translate to much-needed exposure which can help young trainees understand the real-life applications of their work and provide them with motivation to grow in their chosen fields. Equipped with the right Skills the youth can become integral to the progress of the nation.
About the author: Ashwini Deodeshmukh, Head CSR & Sustainability Reporting at Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd., has been spearheading CSR projects for the company including the flagship pan India Employability program - DISHA and Community development projects across 9 locations. She is responsible for enabling consistent progress on sustainability targets by monitoring, collation, and reporting of data as per established Sustainability reporting standards.