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India must become the skill capital of the world

The Indian diaspora can be found across almost every nation in the world and most of them are successful immigrants contributing to the larger good of the country they have chosen to live in. What has underpinned the success story of Indian emigrants across the globe has been their ability to leverage their personal skills, work hard and adapt to the local community. From the indentured labourers in Fiji and Mauritius to Punjabi farmers in Canada, to the more recent technology consultants in Europe and America, the Indian emigrant is a story of success.

Amid the current geopolitical churn, as India tries to cement its position in the new world order that is taking shape, its people can be its greatest strength. With 10 to 12 million youth entering the workforce every year, India should not only train and skill them for the domestic economy but for the world also. Apart from the current health crisis creating a great demand for healthcare professionals, in many other trades such as oil and gas, construction, diamond processing and Information Technology (IT), too, India has the advantage of skilling its youth for the global market.

There is clearly a demand for skilled talent from a wide variety of nations that include Scandinavian countries, Russia, Italy, Germany and even East European nations like Romania. Many of them have a State-supported programme to attract international talent. One such example is ‘Talent Boost’ in Finland.

India should leverage its image as a benign power with a strong democratic tradition and tolerant society to create partnerships with such countries, quite like that announced with Japan recently. A Government to Government (G2G) arrangement secures better terms for migrant workers and ensures better protection of their rights.

A part of the G2G arrangement should be to allow India’s National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) being accepted in the receiving country. If required, bespoke programmes can be created under the NSQF or bridge modules may be introduced to meet the assessment and certification framework of the receiving country. We could look to create regional centres of excellence, specifically for training of youth for international markets.

India should create formal and structured pathways for labour mobility by the private sector. There exist many organisations that facilitate this international mobility, but a code of conduct will prevent any potential exploitation of migrating workers. International mobility of labour should become an essential part of India’s economic diplomacy. We should work towards breaking down barriers in international labour supply to ensure hassle-free movement of talent.

This approach to skilling in India has multiple advantages. It helps the Indian youth find gainful employment and helps to channelise their energy towards productive purposes. This will also give a great boost to the international remittances India receives annually. This in turn will contribute to the growth of the country’s economy and help improve our living standards.

Hard-working youth contributing to the host country’s economic growth will help enhance India’s soft power. The host country benefits from accepting migrants who are tolerant, adaptable and easy to assimilate. The IT professional’s contribution to changing India’s image as a country of “snake charmers and bullock carts”  cannot be exaggerated.

Further, those workers who choose to return home will contribute to the domestic economy by bringing new knowledge, experiences and methods that will enhance productivity.

India could leverage the G2G partnerships to bring in world-class pedagogy, technology, curriculum, content and the infrastructure required for the delivery of vocational education.

We should aspire to become the skill capital of the world. India needs to enter into cooperation agreements with many more countries, like it has done with Japan, to build formidable partnerships in areas of skill development. It is only then that it will transform into an international skills hub.

It is, however, a surprise that the recently launched Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana’ 3.0 fails to elucidate the Government’s strategy to achieve this aspiration. It lacks the road map to make India the skill capital of the world by overlooking the chronic challenges of quality infrastructure, training, pedagogy and the involvement of international partners in the delivery of skilling programmes.

The new normal of the post-Covid world presents exciting opportunities for India to leverage its power in the skilling sphere because it has brought a completely new framework for virtual operations with robust digital platforms to deliver skilling programmes to trainees and connect them to international employers.

The Government should move quickly to formulate policies to address the vital aspect of international mobility for our youth in a post-Covid world by imagining new paradigms of digital skilling by augmenting the adoption of digital technologies. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).

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