According to the fifth India Skill Report 2018 , a joint initiative of CII, PeopleStrong, Wheebox, UNDP, AICTE, AIU and Pearson points out that 20 to 26 million people got some form of gainful employment between 2014 to 2017 as a result of factors like increased government spending, increased hiring, entrepreneurship generation and rise of independent work. The India Skills Report 2018, released on 9th February 2018 applauds the present government’s efforts for skill development in India and targets to make India the future ‘skill capital’ of India.
The Report is based on two prominent surveys conducted pan India, one is the Wheebox Employability Skill Test (WEST) designed to assess employability of students which has collected its data through an online survey from 5,10,000 students across 5,200 institutions in 29 states and 7 UTs. The findings of WEST indicate that there has been an increase of 5.16 % in the employability score to 45.6 %. It means that now 45.6 % of students entering the workforce are now employable. If we look at domain wise employability, engineers are reported to be most employable which implies that the efforts of AICTE to improve the quality of engineering colleges have made an impact. Though there is a drop of 3 % in the employability of MBAs, the employability of MCAs and B.Pharma’s is on the rise.
However, employability of ITI and Polytechnic students remains a challenge and the efforts being made by National Council on Vocational Training (NCVT) are yet to show a result. Amongst the engineering branches, IT and C.Sc courses are doing the best while civil engineering branch has the least employability. In terms of the State/UTs ranking on the basis of employability score, Delhi tops the list with 2/3rd of its students found employable. The Report says that there has been an improvement by more or less all states in employability as compared to the last year.
The participation of the fairer sex cannot be overemphasized in any economy and it is essential to provide equality of opportunity to both the sexes in order to create an inclusive society. The Report indicates a decline in female employability from 41 to 40% as compared to a rise in male employability from 40 to 47 %, thus indicating a widening gap. A pertinent question of rising gender disparity in India has been raised in the ISR. In order to improve participation of women in the workforce, it is utmost that they are given equal opportunities at work, are treated equally in all respects, made to feel safe at the workplace etc. The workplace and work life factors play a crucial role in motivating women to join the workforce.
The reassuring news is that according to the survey findings, most organizations are sentient of gender diversity and they are trying to improve the gender diversity ratio from 77:23 (male to female) to 65:35 (male to female). In terms of industrial sectors that are most favorable to women are Retail, BPO, ITCS, Travel and Hospitality, whereas the traditional core sectors like manufacturing are hiring lesser women.
WEST also collected data on National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) which was launched by the Government of India on 19th August 2016 to promote apprenticeship with an objective of bridging the skill gap in students. The findings of WEST show that only 56% of the students are aware of this scheme, which is clearly undesirable as apprenticeship can become a critical enabler for young job seekers to gain employment in the industry.
Another survey which forms the second part of the ISR 2018, the India Hiring Intent Survey (IHIS) carried out by PeopleStrong, was designed to assess the skill requirement for hiring to be done by the corporates in near future. It invited responses by more than 1000 organizations across 15 different sectors on hiring trends in future. The responses were invited on education domain, hiring requirements, apprenticeship awareness among organizations and future skill requirements. Nearly half of the employers surveyed expected an increase in hiring this year as compared to the last year.
The sectors which expect an increase in hiring include Banking & Financial Services, BPO, Insurance, Travel, Hospitality and IT. The key skill sets that are likely to be popular among employers are Data Analytics, Research & Development, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Concept Design etc. Most numbers of ‘new jobs’ are likely to be created in the fields of AI, Concept Design and Robotics. The Report also reveals that almost 69 % of employers agree that automation would impact the number of jobs in future.
One of the very important findings of the Report is the fact that the ‘Soft Skills’ or ‘Transferable Skills’ are perceived by the employers as or more important than the hard skills. Positive attitude and adaptability are listed as most sought-after attributes by the employers. Thus, one of the main aims of the Indian education system should be impartment of transferable skills/ soft skills that are useful and required for all kind of jobs.
Thus, the India Skills Report 2018 gives some deep insights on the ‘skill gap’ in India through the listing of employability Vs. Opportunities on four important parameters viz., education, geography, gender, and apprenticeship. The data would be useful to both job seekers/students as they can assess the current state of skill requirement from employer side (Opportunities) and the employers because they can access the skill availability (Employability).
(The writer is Associate Professor & Programme Co-ordinator, Amity School of Economics. Views expressed are her personal)