Fore­casts for a

If In­dia wants its abil­i­ties to dove­tail with the needs of the mar­ket, it will have to mould it­self in line with the dy­namic present, not the static past

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - INDIAINSPOTLIGHT -

wage jobs but they will still be “Mcjobs” as­so­ci­ated with as­sem­bly lines.

Can In­dia look be­yond that? It prob­a­bly can and should. Re­cent stud­ies have shown that na­tions that have strong En­glish­language ca­pa­bil­i­ties are more likely to at­tract re­search and de­vel­op­ment in­vest­ments. Now, if In­dia, aided by sci­ence ed­u­ca­tion and English, leapfrogs into cut­ting-edge in­no­va­tions, does it need a dif­fer­ent ap­proach in de­cid­ing where public in­vest­ments should go and skills should be built? Can In­dia the global R&D hub get the bet­ter of In­dia the man­u­fac­tur­ing hub? New ar­eas beckon. Elec­tric cars, ge­nomics, ro­bot­ics, re­new­able en­ergy and big data an­a­lyt­ics are ex­am­ples of ac­tiv­i­ties or in­dus­tries in which eco­nomic paradigm shifts would ren­der ob­so­les­cent some of the old in­dus­tries.

Dove­tail­ing emerg­ing de­mand with sup­ply of skills re­quires cal­i­bra­tion at many lev­els. There may be a re­quire­ment for a mul­ti­plex­ing of ed­u­ca­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions with at­tributes such as de­sign thinking, cre­ativ­ity and flex­i­ble man­age­ment styles.

We live in an age where a huge amount of self-ser­vice skilling will hap­pen through the In­ter­net and videos. Web ven­tures such as Lynda.com, Cours­era, Udac­ity and Khan Academy are re­defin­ing ed­u­ca­tion – both at the ba­sic and mid-ca­reer level. Public pol­icy mak­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors need to “re­cede and fa­cil­i­tate” rather than “build and con­trol” in a frame­work where en­tre­pre­neur­ial fer­ment seems strong. NIIT’S for­mer re­search head Su­gata Mi­tra used to speak of a “just-in-time” sys­tem of ed­u­ca­tion that would help flex­i­ble learn­ing suited to emerg­ing jobs. Can In­dia’s public pol­icy rise to such a chal­lenge?

At a fun­da­men­tal level, cli­mate change, man­age­ment of ur­ban pres­sures and uni­ver­sal health­care ini­tia­tives may in them­selves gen­er­ate “so­cially ori­ented” jobs by the mil­lions. These may even be more pro­duc­tive than the fa­bled fac­tory jobs

Who knows, Swachh Bharat may spell more jobs than “Make In In­dia!”

The fu­ture is not some­thing easy to pre­dict on the ba­sis of what oth­ers might have done in the past. Its con­tours must be spot­ted in the tec­tonic shifts of a dy­namic world.

Fore­cast­ing skills may be, in that sense, the mother of all skills.

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