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World Youth Skills Day 2020: Here’s why early skilling of youth is important

World Youth Skills Day 2020: This day is meant to commemorate, acknowledge and celebrate the importance of equipping young people with skills for employment and entrepreneurship. Here’s why early skilling of youth is important.

New Delh, iJuly 15, 2020

In December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring 15th July as World Youth Skills Day with the goal of achieving better socio-economic conditions for today’s youth as a means to address the challenge of unemployment and underemployment.

However, despite a global focus on skills as key economic upliftment indicator, the lack of a skilled workforce remains the major reason for growing youth unemployment in India and other emerging economies.

World Youth Skills Day

Therefore, the best way to commemorate this World Youth Skills Day will be to introspect, ideate and debate how we can hasten the skilling needs of young countries like India with an ever-increasing working population.

The ILO report on ‘Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020: Technology and the Future of Jobs’ shows that since 2017, there has been an upward trend in the number of youths not in employment, education or training (NEET).

  • In 2016 there were 259 million young people classified as NEET a number that rose to an estimated 267 million in 2019 and is projected to continue climbing to 273 million in 2021
  • The trend was slightly up from 21.7% in 2015 to 22.4% in 2020, implying that the international target to reduce the NEET rate by 2020 will be missed

Education and training are central to generating employment for any economy. It is estimated that youth in the 15-25 age group is almost three times more likely to be unemployed than adults and continuously exposed to lower quality of jobs, greater labour market inequalities, and longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions. In addition, women are more likely to be underemployed and underpaid and to undertake part-time jobs or work under temporary contracts.

Reason for youth unemployment

  • A major reason for youth unemployment is structural unemployment, a mismatch between the skills that workers in the economy can offer and the skills demanded of workers by employers
  • Structural unemployment affects all regions around the world, and it impacts not only economies but also hampers the transition to equitable and inclusive societies
  • Hence, skills development is the primary means of enabling young people to make a smooth transition to work

With the majority of Indians failing to complete their education, there is also a need to skill the youth according to their needs and aspirations and help improve their dignity in jobs they do. A good way can be by opening ‘applied skill’ institutions where everyone can learn and pursue their skills, be it carpentry or craftsmanship or AI and robotics.

In India much needs to be done to upgrade the skilling infrastructure. The current infrastructure is grossly inadequate to serve the growing needs of the skilling industry.

On the one hand, India has to generate jobs for its teeming millions, and on the other hand, it also has to give the right kind of skilling to the youth. The current infrastructure of ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes), ITCs (Industrial Training Centers) and other government-aided institutes are not enough to train people for future job opportunities.

Growth in digital learning

The penetration of digital, however, is opening new doors for learners as well as the industry. Digital learning is now the big thing in training and India will need to facilitate the growth of digital means of training and skilling.

More skill training and vocational training centers, and government collaboration with the industry will be essential not only in augmenting skilling but also to ensure skilling as per the industry requirements. Integrating skills into the formal education system, right from school, is a necessity now.

This will require a big investment by the government esp. towards a large number of training manpower to train and manage the training in the form of professionals who can manage skill development and training operations on an end-to-end basis.

Key driving factors like technology, e-commerce and telecommunication are impacting all the industries to redefine their transformation strategies for their product & services.

Digital technology

The advent of digital technology is forcing the industry to undertake digital transformation. This applies to almost all sectors including technology, BFSI, healthcare, retail, transportation, hospitality, tourism, beauty, textiles, aviation and many more. This also opens up a huge requirement of talent with new skills. New digital courses and new job opportunities are opening up in the skill development sectors.

Conclusion

Much needs to be done in the skilling domain, especially in developing countries like India to meet the challenges of rapid economic growth and the growing needs of industrialization. The way forward is to bring down NEET numbers by early skilling of youth and enabling training within formal education. If we are able to do this, there may be a silver lining at the end of the skills horizon.

Article by Sunil Dahiya, Executive Vice President, Wadhwani Opportunity at Wadhwani Foundation.

Source: India Today

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