Give youth skills. Give India strength.

Several months back, I was eating dinner with friends at a popular restaurant and lounge in Jaipur, Rajasthan. Following our dinner, we asked the waiter to divide our checks for us. He scoffed and walked away as soon as he heard our request. I later spoke to the manager who told me that he would certainly divide our checks for us, but that this was not common practice in India. Furthermore, he explained that the restaurant did not have the computer software to do this, and even if they did, the workers did not have sufficient knowledge with computers to work with this type of software.

Former President Clinton stated that “today, many companies are reporting that their number one constraint on growth is the inability to hire workers with the necessary skills.”  In a country with nearly half of its population under the age of 25 and increasing foreign direct investment (FDI), it nearly goes without saying that basic skillsets in the workplace are necessary not only for the given company’s operations, but India’s growth overall as it rises towards the status of an economic superpower.

In a recent Indian Express article, skillset training or “skilling” is considered to be an emerging industry as India has a unique situation. Although demand for workers is considerably high, the number of those who have the skills necessary to meet this demand is by no means up to par.  TalentSpirit founder, Santanu Paul, stated that while working as the head of Indian operations in Hyderbad for Virtusa Corporation “for every 100 people interviewed, we could only pick up five.” Since then, he has designed a 3 month training module that focuses on placings its graduates in IT companies and banks  following graduation (Iyer, 1).

Recently, my fellowship work has become more focused on placing students with companies following graduation of our courses at Empower Pragati. Empower teaches different types of skillsets that are in high demand in Ahmedabad, including life skills, customer relations services, computer skills, and more recently basic English. While speaking with different companies, I viewed the qualifications necessary for their positions. To my surprise, despite the fact that many positions required a college degree; companies were willing to accept our students because their skills were more in line with what they desired from candidates.

Whether the motivation to train India’s youth comes from a for-profit company, an NGO, or otherwise, the reality remains that there is immense opportunity in this “skilling” field. For progression to truly occur amongst India’s workforce, these skillsets must be met, especially amongst the major demographic of India’s youth, which is likely to have a competitive advantage with other countries once these skills are obtained.

Works Cited:

Iyer, P. Vaidyanathan. “‘Skilling’ latest biz mantra as top CEOs quit jobs to provide training.” Indian Express [New Delhi ] 18 04 2011, 1-2. Web. 21 Dec. 2011.

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