India shifted from jobless to job-led growth in 10 years: MoS Chandrasekhar | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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In 10 years, India witnessed transition from jobless to job-led growth: MoS Chandrasekhar

Feb 18, 2024 02:12 AM IST

The focus will now be on skilling people in future requirements, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors

​New Delhi: India has seen a transition from jobless to job-led growth under the central government, minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship Rajeev Chandrasekhar said in an interview. Around 45 million youth have been trained under various government schemes between 2014 to the time before the pandemic, he said. The focus will now be on skilling people in future requirements, including artificial intelligence, semiconductors, cybersecurity and high-performance computing, the minister said. Edited excerpts:

Around 45 million youth have been trained under various government schemes between 2014 to the time before the pandemic, the minister said. (Ayush Sharma)
Around 45 million youth have been trained under various government schemes between 2014 to the time before the pandemic, the minister said. (Ayush Sharma)

What are the biggest achievements of the government in skill development?

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We started with the huge disadvantage of having a predominantly unskilled workforce. In 2014, the total workforce in India was about 42 crore and of them, 30 crore had no formal skills or education of any kind. Besides, access to skill was limited. Industry was hiring and was having to go through an expensive process of skilling people before they could be deployed, even if they were coming out of higher education institutions. They were educated but unskilled, requiring substantial, expensive transitions to make them industry ready. It was one of the reasons why China was attracting huge manufacturing investments. So, Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought a focus on skilling and launched The Skill India Mission to build a network of skilled delivery centres to make skills accessible to a wider audience. Combining schemes of all of the central ministries, between 2014 and pre-COVID times, around 4.5 crore youngsters have been skilled.

Besides, the National Education Policy 2020 for the first time made skilling and vocational training a part of the school curriculum. Therefore, the led government addressed the yawning deficit in skills and education within our workforce because an unskilled uneducated workforce cannot make a country competitive vis-a-vis China or Vietnam, which is what most investors were looking at as alternatives. We have witnessed a transition from jobless to job-led growth under the government in the past 10 years.

While the government says job creation has increased, the opposition says otherwise.

What has been done in the last 10 years to enhance the workforce and skills in the workforce was not done in the 65 years since Independence. When people talk about employment, you’re talking about employment in the context of the fact that you left behind 10 years ago, an extremely unaligned workforce, the workforce that was not consistent with what the economy expected, wanted and required.

Is our society is ready for mainstreaming skill education?

We have been conditioned for 65 years that a degree was everything, and it is not unique to India. But what our Prime Minister has been saying since 2015 and that is true in the present context is that no employer employs based on your degree. They will say what is your experience and experience means skills. Therefore, it is important to make skilling a part of education as skilling gives you experience.

What about out-of-school students?

Skilling today is available at skill hubs being set up at schools under the government’s Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) for every student, including those who are out of school. So I dropped out, let’s say two years ago, in the eighth standard. I have not gotten any benefit and I want to go back and learn something, whether it’s computer programming, phone repair, electronics, something. I can go back to the same school, as a 16-year-old, and learn skills.

Is there any change in the trend in terms of workforce requirement?

Post Covid-19, there is another sharper change in the workforce, where technology and digital skills are becoming essential for almost the entire workforce. We are moving into a regime where an employer or even from an entrepreneurship point of view is that you need domain skills. The government is working on providing opportunities on that front.

The government has a lot of emphasis on startups. What do we expect next in that direction?

Before 2014, structurally our economy was dominated by a few companies. The Prime Minister was of the view that we should diversify the economy and economic activities significantly. So he launched the Startup India campaign. India is now a global startup hub.

From 100 startups in 2014, we now have 1.18 lakh registered startups. Of them, 112 have turned into unicorns (firms with valuation of more than $1 billion). In the next five years, we target to increase these 1.18 lakh startups by 10 times. And the next wave of startups will be in new skill areas of AI, semiconductors, cybersecurity and high-performance computing.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Fareeha Iftikhar is a Special Correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. She tracks the education ministry, and covers the beat at the national level for the newspaper. She also writes on issues related to gender, human rights and different policy matters.

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