Tech-first upskilling key to brighter future for India’s youth

May 11, 2022 12:39 AM IST

Technology doesn’t just exist to connect deserving candidates to industry stalwarts but it can be the great leveler that the country needs to move forward together.

It has been found that upskilling initiatives have the potential to create 5.3 million new jobs by 2030 globally. Investing in the youth of our country will help unlock future opportunities that can benefit India exponentially in the years to come. Upskilling the nation’s adults will help them pursue meaningful careers, stay relevant and ignite thinking. Armed with digital skills, high competency levels and the thirst for excellence, India’s future changemakers could be the defining factors of economies worldwide in the years to come. 

Representational image.(Bloomberg)
Representational image.(Bloomberg)

Multiple entities have tried to deliver continuous learning so professionals can deliver the global stage. Some of the main issues that have been faced in the path to holistic training and learning have been the following: to determine tools that can be easily used by a large group of people simultaneously, presenting information that can be accessed easily and for teaching to be clearly understood no matter what one’s level of education. Technology may be the answer to all these issues, so on National Technology Day, it’s pertinent to examine the role technology will play in plugging the skills gap.

Technology, with its limitless versions, can be tailored to benefit unique upskilling needs 

Firstly, technology provides many options that can be tailored to suit the upskilling needs of skill-specific and skill-agnostic industries. These formats include live classes, video-based series, and long cohort-based courses. It can not only help in imparting digital skills, but also in training for important offline roles and responsibilities. It can also help build upskilling formats for new careers that are constantly evolving and adding to their definitions. 

Industrial training institutes, that have focused on training blue-collar workers, can benefit greatly from the many technological options available for the holistic growth of students. Right skilling will be crucial for these institutes that work in grassroots regions, to decipher gaps in the existing system, challenge the status quo and design disruptive solutions. 

Technology can help connect India to mentors and peers from anywhere for opportunity generation

Secondly, in a socially distanced world, technology can also help in providing India’s youth with seamless, consistent mentorship and peer-to-peer learning from anywhere in the country. Better relationships with mentors and peers lead to better employment opportunities – one conversation could open the door to a fulfilling career. Mentorship from seasoned professionals can also help give a birds-eye view about present industry standards, that are still rapidly changing as the pandemic remains uncertain. It can be crucial in determining whether upskilling methodologies are up to date, consistent with corporate training best practices and if there is a need to learn, unlearn and re-learn. Mentors, if able, can also hire directly from the talent pool that they’re responsible for, providing a win-win for suitable candidates and organizations that are looking to make a difference through upskilling and training endeavors. 

Technology can be the great leveler that India needs to provide equal opportunities for India’s youth

Lastly, technology doesn’t just exist to connect deserving candidates to industry stalwarts. It can be the great leveler that the country needs to move forward together. For example, during the lockdown, a great number of people took to their mobile phones, tablets, and laptops to upgrade their skills, elevate their job profile and find work. Skill education moved beyond brick-and-mortar classrooms, giving everyone the same opportunity to land high-demand jobs. India’s youth does have a ‘bias for action’, which is the preference of action over inaction, they just need the right opportunities to make a positive difference. 

It’s heartening to see non-profits like Smile Foundation, with their ‘Tayyari Kal Ki’ program work towards upskilling and training initiatives for all using digital techniques to ensure youth employment during the pandemic. Having been a strong voice in enforcing child rights, the organization extended its steadfast advocacy to India’s youth, with no bias, in protecting their livelihoods and education. The Smile Foundation quickly realized that a digitally savvy workforce is what the new normal needed and used a cloud-based training model to train over 65, 000 youth through its STeP employability training initiative. 

The Government of India also ensured that in its presentation of 2022-23’s Union Budget, there was a mention of the effort to establish a Digital University that has the potential to make education more accessible and democratized. The University can potentially help to bridge the class divide between students from Tier 1 cities and students from Middle India’s educational institutions. When the FM speaks of the need for a technology-first, skill-first economy, it’s a national call for the development of good talent beyond only an impressive resume. Aptitude today, cannot only be measured by academic pedigree and employment history only – skills are as important, if not the most important. 

Students, graduates, and young professionals thus, have every possible opportunity to find upskilling opportunities by leveraging technology. In today’s hyperconnected world, while we’re treading on the growth path to a better 2023, upskilling can be the hope that the country’s youth need. There is no looking back at this point in India’s future, and to level up our workforce to global standards, every component of our skilling ecosystem should look to technology for a superior tomorrow.

(The author of this opinion article, Aatish Parashar, is Dean and head of Central University of South Bihar)

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