India must re-engineer skill ecosystem as new-age technologies play out: FICCI-PwC

New Delhi: As technological breakthroughs alter the nature of work globally, it is critical for India equip its workforce with employable skills, stimulate a sustainable development process and transit into a formal economy, according to a knowledge paper by industry body FICCI and consulting major PwC.

The country with a fast-paced and evolving economy must capitalize on its demographic advantage with nearly 65 percent of the population in the age group of 15–59 years.

“About 4.5 million youth are expected to enter the job market each year,” said the paper titled ‘Fast Forward: Relevant Skills for a Buoyant Indian Economy.’

But only 10.8 percent of the total Indian workforce has undergone any kind of skill training (2.2 percent with formal training and 8.6 percent with informal training as compared to 60 to 90 percent of the workforce in developed economies.

“The current skill ecosystem needs to be re-engineered to cater to the evolving growth story and demands of Industry 4.0,” said FICCI Co-Chairman Raman Kumar Sharma.

“Industries are focusing on new-age technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, bionics, the Internet of Things, 3D printing and biotechnology, which build on and amplify one another. We as a society should have a clear view of what the future, driven by megatrends and our own actions, will look like.”

Ashok Varma, Partner, and Leader at PwC India’s Social Sector Advisory said policymakers, regulators and industries have to collectively invest in the development of new agile learners by improving education and training systems, as well as updating the labor policies to match the realities of Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The knowledge paper said with rising unemployment has become not just a national but also a global concern, it becomes imperative to ensure timely corrective measures based on the skill requirements to face these changes.

Generic skills like cognitive ability, integrated thinking, critical thinking, emotional intelligence and empathy, management and leadership, relationship building and collaboration, cognitive flexibility, creativity, and social intelligence will also be required over and above the technical skills, it said.

PwC predicts that India has the potential to create a 10 trillion dollar economy — up from 2.6 trillion dollars in 2017-18 — if it accelerates its compounded annual growth rate to 9 percent over the next 20 years.

Considering the demographic dividend, increasing integration with the global economy and potential for economic growth, India needs to improve and speed up its current socio-economic initiatives to create shared prosperity for its 1.3 billion citizens.