The global labor market has undergone a transformation in recent years with a major shift from qualifications to skills. It is not that degrees or diplomas have lost their importance. They continue to be important, but skills are increasingly taking center stage in the hiring process.
India is the world leader in technology and related services. We are already the 3rd largest tech startup hub in the world. Start-ups arrive and evolve at a breakneck pace. Between the existing players and the upcoming start-ups, the next decade will likely be a great place for Indian technologists, as long as they can keep pace with the rapid advancements and changes taking place in the tech landscape.
There is a talent and skills gap in technology. There are more jobs than qualified people. There are several studies that have attempted to quantify it. One of the industry leaders estimates that the talent gap in India alone is likely to be in the range of 14-19 Lakhs, skilled tech workers by 2026. This gap is already manifesting in increased competition for the available skilled labor, leading to higher wages. This, in turn, stimulates the demand for technological education.
We have a lot of education capacity. The challenge lies in the skills that our institutions offer their students. Most tech companies find that Indian tech graduates suffer from deficits in two key areas: critical employability skills and technical skills. Core employability skills refer to key attributes such as lifelong learning, critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork and collaboration, and time management. Communication skills are also a major stumbling block for a significant number of Indian tech graduates.
Technical skills gaps are typically in high-demand areas such as artificial intelligence/machine learning, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and the Internet of Things. Each of these areas is changing at a very rapid pace and educational institutions are often unable to keep up to date with the latest developments in the industry.
Technology programs that aim to fill these gaps must be of an appropriate length and format that allows learners to understand key underlying concepts experientially and apply their learnings in a real-world environment so that learnings applied and cemented firmly in place.
These additional programs should be complemented by in-depth training in basic employability skills so that learners are prepared to work in a team, whether they move on to an established organization or an entrepreneurial venture.
The government is working on it. There are multiple initiatives from different ministries and departments that seek to close this gap. AICTE, through its curricular interventions and faculty development initiatives; DST, through its incubators and its initiative around technological education and entrepreneurship; NITI Aayog through its Atal Innovation Mission which has set up thousands of Atal DIY labs in schools across India as well as hundreds of incubators; Ministry of Education through its regular curriculum updates and competitions etc.
There are many initiatives from non-profit organizations as well as private companies. A substantial part of national expenditure on CSR (corporate social responsibility) is devoted to the training of students in all fields of education. School students are exposed to key technologies and skills through business (and government) run innovation programs and programs. Vocational students learn key skills through ITI (Industrial Training Institute) and NSTI (National Skills Training Institute) run by the Directorate General for Training of the Ministry of Skills Development and Education. ‘Entrepreneurship. Higher education learners benefit from programs that impact key skills for high tech employability.
The Edunet Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on technology skills, employment and entrepreneurship, has found that most learners and institutions realize this and are willing to work to fill these gaps. Through its programs offered in alliance with top technology companies, it helps learners, educators and institutions to close learning gaps and meet industry expectations. Emphasis is placed on basic soft skills as well as hard skills. All content is delivered experimentally. Emphasis is placed on project-based learning to develop application skills. Multiple interactions are organized where learners interact with industry volunteers, incubators and top technologists at leading companies. Learners have multiple opportunities to present their work to partners, sponsors, institutions, potential employers and other stakeholders. The focus is on empowering learners and helping them reach their true potential.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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