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
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.