India urges nations to join hands to leverage its strong workforce
Kazan (Russia): India, projected to have the largest working population between 2022 and 2034, has called upon nations to join hands with it to leverage its skilled manpower, with an estimated 10 million youths entering the workforce per annum.
India, with a strong 48-member contingent, is among the 63 countries participating in the world's biggest international vocational skill competition -- WorldSkills Kazan 2019, which is underway in the capital of Tatarstan.
"As we know, India is a young nation in an ageing world with the median age of 27.6 years as compared to median age of above 40 in large parts of developed nations. India is also projected to be the region with the largest working population from 2022 till 2034. In view of this, skilling on global standards can ensure global mobility of highly skilled Indian workforce," Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Mahendra Nath Pandey said here.
He urged nations to come forward to encash this opportunity while attending the second edition of the Summit for Ministers, held in Kazan on the sidelines of the 45th WorldSkills Competition.
Ministers from more than 40 countries participated in the summit and deliberated on the most advanced approaches to workforce training system excellence.
Participants included Tatyana Golikova, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation; Olga Vasilyeva, Minister of Education of the Russian Federation; Jos de Goey, Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Chair of the Strategic Development Committee at WorldSkills International; Tang Tao, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security, People's Republic of China, amongst others.
Pandey said India's focus is on ensuring that its demographic dividend is appropriately skilled, and people are productively employed in decent work.
"For India, this demographic dividend is a limited opportunity which will peak around year 2040 wherein it is estimated that there would be 46 dependents per 54 workers," he said.
Currently, India has more than 10 million youths entering the workforce every year, he said.
"To provide access to quality skilling opportunities within a short time frame, India has adopted an accelerated modular competency-based programme of 200 to 600 hours duration. For enhancing the employability of youths coming out of these short-term programmes, it is envisaged to further skill them under an industry-led apprenticeship program. Youths directly entering the labour market are trained on in-house bridge courses by industry," he said.
At the same time, the minister said industry interface was equally important and one of the key strategies for skilling with scale, speed and standard is the focus on industry-led apprenticeship training.
"A comprehensive set of legislative, policy and administrative reforms have been undertaken to create one of the most liberal and industry friendly interventions in apprenticeship.
"The intent behind these interventions is to reduce the burden of compliance by moving towards self-certification, provide flexibility to industry in terms of hiring and training apprentices, creating a role for Industry Chambers to be third party aggregators and leveraging technology for process standardisation and simplification," he said.
A National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) was launched in August 2016 to extend financial benefits by the government to industries for taking up apprentices.
Targeting high population of youths migrating overseas for good opportunities, the minister said the government has taken numerous initiatives to improve opportunities for decent overseas work and enhance the skills level of emigrating workforce.
Detailing initiatives, he said these include a number of government-to-government (G2G) agreements focused on testing centres and joint skilling programmes.
"A case study in point is the Technical Intern Training Programme (TITP) of Japan...Indian workers are now going to Japan under this programme due to a G2G agreement. This has also led to setting of several Japan-India Institute of Manufacturing at various locations in India," the minister said.
These G2G and other B2B partnerships have led to development of common standards aligned with countries like the UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan.
"Our endeavour is to adopt World Skills as 'Global Gold Standard' across the apex institutions of the skilling ecosystem. We started the India Chapter of World Skills - India Skills Competition in 2016. This competition saw over 50,000 participants across 27 states and Union Territories, supported by over 100 corporates and academic institutions," he said.
He quoted a recent by a global consultancy firm in association with industry bodies in India, forecasting that across the Indian workforce in the next five years, 9 per cent would be deployed in new jobs that do not exist today, 37 per cent would be in jobs that have radically changed skill sets, and 54 per cent will fall under unchanged job category.
He said as a result, skilling becomes critical, whether it is entry level skilling for persons in 'Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET)' category, or finishing skills to improve employability of students graduating out of our educational institutions or upskilling or reskilling of current workforce.
The Government of India is supporting IT industry body NASSCOM with an outreach target of 200 million youths in various colleges and employer locations. In addition, Centers of Excellence like the Indian Institute of Skills are focusing on the application of Industry 4.0 technologies in the manufacturing sector, he said.
Stressing on the need for an effective partnership between the government, industry and academia, he said building such a three-way partnership is one of the key strategies of the government to ensure future-ready workforce.