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Gearing Up For New Skills Requirements

By Sunil Dahiya

As the world slowly recovers from the pandemic setback, the focus is now on economic recovery and the reopening of businesses. Policymakers across continents are looking for ways and actions that can best help businesses reopen safely while ensuring safety of the public and helping restart the economy. As the current and virtual worlds collide, every function and role is being re-defined, fundamentally changing the future of work, workforce and workspace. The question now on everybody’s mind is – Which skills are likely to be in demand in the future?

We are on the threshold of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (or Industry 4.0) and 50 per cent of all employees will need reskilling, according to the World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Jobs’ report. The Forum also says that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines. However, even more jobs – 97 million – may emerge that are adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms. Greater technology adoption will mean that in-demand skills across jobs will change substantially over the next five years, and skills gaps will continue to be high.

Apart from gaining technical and vocational skills, some of the useful employability or soft skills likely to attain prominence in the future are – Analytical Thinking and Innovation, Complex Problem Solving, Critical Thinking and Analysis, Emotional Intelligence, Negotiation Skills, People Management and Creativity Skills.

There are some fast-emerging job opportunities like energy, electric vehicles, retail tech, fintech, healthcare, IT and services. The key ones are listed below.

IT and Internet Services: According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, Data Analytics will be the next boom for IT professionals.  Similarly, digital marketing, hardware, and networking engineers will be in demand in the coming decades. The IT sector will see continued growth as all industries across economies will continue to depend on the IT sector.

Retail and Warehousing: Will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years as the e-commerce sector grows rapidly.

Electric Vehicles: Electric vehicles (EVs) have entered the market with a bang. By the end of this decade, over 25 per cent of all vehicles will be powered by non-fossil fuels, especially electric ones. Massive infrastructure is being laid for electric vehicles and accessories production in India, which will likely create millions of jobs. This will require the right skills to meet the job requirements.

Green Jobs: There is a worldwide focus on reducing the carbon footprint and bringing it to zero by the end of this century. This means the world will rapidly move to non-carbon fuels to power the world economy. As a result, new sectors in alternate energy like wind power, hydrogen fuel, solar energy etc., are opening. This will require an entirely new set of skills for which massive trainings will be required and will lead to the creation of millions of new jobs.

Changes required in the school system to create an industry-ready workforce:

India will need a large pool of trained manpower in the coming years as it is set to become one of the three largest economies by the end of this decade and a major manufacturing base as the world looks for alternate production hubs outside China. This will require skilled manpower and massive infrastructure, which we currently lack. To meet the skilling challenge, the country needs fast-paced skilling for the youth right from the school level so that by the time a student graduates, they should be ready for a skilled job. For this, the Govt, in collaboration with the industry, should set up upskilling centers in academic institutions and provide trainers from the industry.

Schools can play a pivotal role in introducing industry-mapped courses early in the academic cycle. If the industry collaborates right at the curriculum design stage, students can be given a choice for choosing the skilling domain they are interested in. On a separate note, if our school curriculum design is 30 per cent contributed by the industry and academia, 30 per cent by the State and 40 per cent by the Center, we can ensure that the student holistically understands the industry from a local to a global level. Also, the school curriculum must add skilling as one of the subjects and students should be given the vocational subject of their choice so that they can specialise in their chosen vocations.

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