The world will add 100 crore new workers in the next 25 years. Out of this, every fourth or fifth will be an Indian


Interview/Ved Mani Tiwari, chief executive officer, National Skill Development Corporation, and managing director, NSDC International

What kind of changes do India's young workforce need to be aware of?
There has been a change in the overall workplace environment because of macro-level changes happening across the globe--the post Covid impact, demographic transitions that various economies are going through, geostrategic implications and climate change. All these factors have also impacted globalisation big time. At the same time technological changes have enabled a lot of remote work.

From a demographic perspective, the world will add 100 crore new workers in the next 25 years; every fourth or fifth will be an Indian. I see this thing as a huge opportunity. Indian youth will get a global opportunity. Our education institutions and our youth will have to be ready for it. There would be a few parts of the world which would like foreign workers to work there plus there would be a lot of economic activity which could be delivered through a remote working model.
How can educational institutions in India tap such opportunities and what role can you play in helping Indian youth grab better opportunities?
Our perspective is that the opportunity is global. Currently a lot of educational institutions in India have seen this as a domestic fit. We are trying to bring in a global perspective to it. This is where we are having conversations with educational institutions. The gross enrolment ratio in higher education in India is around 27 to 28 per cent. To succeed in a job one needs to have knowledge, skills and abilities all put together. While some people might take the campus route for career growth, some might like to take the skill route for their career. We are working with educational institutes to design two types of degree programmes—one is campus-led and the other is an apprenticeship-led degree programme where the curriculum takes into context the workplace value and supplements it with the knowledge component. For this, one requires an active interface with employers. The campus route is where internship plays an important role.
We also know that our biggest opportunity lies in tier-2 and tier-3 cities, but at the same time we are conscious of the fact that colleges and higher education institutes may not have the best of resources to provide quality education and may not have exposure to a good workplace in these cities. We are bringing in standalone short-term courses and working with the institutions in smaller towns so that they can make it part of their curriculum. For instance, an Oracle certificate programme or a Microsoft certificate programme. It means that a student is not only earning a degree, but also earning an industry-awarded certificate.
What is the challenge our students and youth are facing when it comes to reskilling themselves?
Typically, we have operated in a very siloed ecosystem and whenever someone talks about AI and machine learning, it is assumed that it is only for engineers. However, if one sees the economy today; finance is completely fintech and that means that our commerce students should learn technology skills so that they have an opportunity to participate in the fintech ecosystem. On the other hand in the humanities field, AI is creating content and many creative people in humanities also need to learn technology. We want to break this barrier that technology is restricted to engineers. This completely changes as to how an education ecosystem operates.
We are working on bringing top institutes to tier-2 and tier-3 cities. We are talking to a few IITs and leading institutions on replacing a particular course at a tier-2 or tier-3 college with a course from a high-ranked institute. For instance, instead of taking the data science course in an engineering college in a smaller town, students could take a data science course from an IIT. We want all students, irrespective of their location, to get an opportunity.
How do you work with different higher education institutions? How has the NSDC's role changed over the years?
In skill perspective we are today working on all emerging technologies such as AI, ML, blockchain and cyber security. Before Covid-19, the NSDC was primarily running a government programme to help out school dropouts. Lately, we have expanded our area of operation and are working with higher education institutions to bring skills into their curriculum. Before 2021, the NSDC did not have any interface with higher education institutions. We are now working with them to bring in the work place content.
We operate in 36 sectors and work with all types of education institutions. Education institutes operate from campus to industry and their starting point is campus. On the other hand, we work from a workplace to a campus approach, focusing on what the workplace needs. In technology we have introduced industry-certified programmes from Microsoft, Google and Amazon. We have also introduced many digital marketing courses, social media marketing courses, video editing and a lot of other areas.
How do you plan to bring international opportunities for Indian youth?
As I told you, a large proportion of the global workplace will be from India. That means every Indian has an opportunity to participate in the global labour markets. This will be either through immigration or operating through a digital medium.
At NSDC International, we aim to make global opportunities available to aspiring Indians and put them on the right path through which they could capitalise on the opportunities. We have done in-depth studies of 16 countries regarding what type of short- and long-term opportunities exist there. For instance, we know that there are demographic challenges in a few European countries and hence we have introduced different foreign language courses. We also do skill benchmarking—how our skills benchmark as per the opportunities in certain countries. And the kind of incremental learning a person has to do in order to be ready for such opportunities.
You recently built a JobX platform where even foreign employers can post their jobs? How do you check the authenticity of companies posting jobs?
We have our people in different countries to check the authenticity of such companies. Today we have our own offices in Dubai, Perth, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo, and connect with employers directly. Only employers verified by us can post jobs on our platform.