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Asia employment law bulletin 2020

India

Training young India for “new-collar” jobs

With the global domination of the avant-garde disruptive digital solutions and integration of artificial intelligence and internet of things across a wide spectrum of businesses, there is an increased demand for employees with adequate technological capabilities. A study by the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM), the industry association for the IT sector in India, suggests that about 40% of India’s total workforce will need to be re-skilled over the next five years to cope with this emerging trend and match the industry requirements. According to NASSCOM, the demand for the number of so-called “new collar” roles in artificial intelligence, big data and other allied deep technologies in India (which stood at around 0.5 million in 2018), is expected to grow at an annual rate of around 16% to about 0.8 million in 2021.

Recognising the need for an up-skilled and reskilled workforce, the Indian finance minister in her maiden budget speech in July 2019 stated that the government will focus on imparting these new technological skills. A skill building platform was launched by the government in collaboration with the global IT giant, IBM in order to train students with the technical skills needed for these “new collar” jobs. The third version of the government’s flagship skilling scheme known as the “Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana” (which roughly translates to Prime Minister’s Skill Development Scheme - initially launched in 2015 and re-vamped in 2016) is likely to include within its ambit artificial intelligence, internet of things, big data, 3D printing, virtual reality and robotics. It appears that a dedicated policy for re-skilling and upskilling of the existing workforce with focus on newer areas of technology is in the works by the skills development ministry.

The government (through the ministry of electronics and information technology) has also launched a program for Reskilling/ Upskilling of IT Manpower, touted to be one of the largest government led digital skilling initiatives globally, this program has been designed with an objective to train professionals across different segments in ten emerging technologies (including artificial intelligence, cyber security and blockchain).

The growing unemployment rates are now increasingly being used as a stick to beat the current government with.  It seems that the government is now aiming to shift the attention from its failure to generate adequate job opportunities in the traditional manufacturing sector by emphasising and providing training opportunities for these “new-collar” roles which appears to have the potential to absorb the unemployed workforce.

Gaurav Desai, Platinum Partners