Digital technologies are changing the shape of work before our eyes. They help firms to increase productivity, to innovate, and subsequently to create new products and sectors. Emerging markets like India stand to gain—but they need to have the right skills at the ready.

Demand for skills –

  • These skills include complex problem-solving and analysis, and social skills such as teamwork and relationship management.
  • Reasoning and self-efficacy are also increasingly important, particularly as they improve adaptability.
  • In a survey of employers of engineers in India, socio-behavioural skills were ranked at or above technical qualifications and credentials in terms of their significance for the employability of recent graduates.

Transforming education –

  • Building these skills requires strong human capital foundations—and building these foundations is especially important in early childhood development.
  • Most of these traits are learnt by infants up to the age of 5-6. If children miss out during this period in life, it is hard to catch up. 
  • These foundations can be established through effective early childhood development programmes and basic education.
  • According to the World Development Report 2019. India needs to focus even more strongly on the quality of education to realise the true potential of its human capital.

Issues –

  • Lack of investments leave future generations—especially the poorest—at a severe disadvantage, amplifying inequalities that already exist.
  • In the worst-case scenario, this might create instability when rising aspirations are met with frustration instead of opportunity.

Strengths –

  • India has agreed to participate in PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) will improve India’s ranking on education outcomes with global peers.
  • India’s tertiary education system is the second largest in the world, after China.
  • India is home to more than 35 million students and over 50,000 institutions.
  • The most prestigious institutions within this system have global standing and are responsible for making India a world leader in the high-tech sector.

What needs to be done?

  • First, India’s education sector requires more flexibility between the general and technical tracks.
  • Second, more focus on building the skills is required to reap the benefit of our human capital.
  • Third, we need to ensure that specific universities become effective innovation clusters. For example. more initiatives like new research parks established in IITs to promote innovation through incubation and collaboration with private sector firms and universities need to be promoted.
  • Fourthly, India also needs to overhaul its short-term skilling programmes. Pedagogies that are customised to the adult brain, and flexible delivery models that fit in well with adult lifestyles, can make adult learning programmes more effective.

Conclusion –

Investing in human capital now and over the long term is an investment with profound implications for people’s future prosperity and for national economic growth.


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