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Covid-19: Time to reskill India

  • IASbaba
  • July 23, 2020
  • 0
UPSC Articles
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ECONOMY/ GOVERNANCE

Topic: General Studies 2 and 3:

  • Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment.
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Covid-19: Time to reskill India

Context:  A large number of workers both in the informal and formal sectors will either lose their jobs or encounter a significant change in how jobs are done post-Covid-19.  

Did You Know? 

  • The travel & tourism sector accounted for 12.2% of employment opportunities generated in the country in 2017.  
  • 80% of travel & tourism industry is composed of SMEs 
  • As per initial estimates by the Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), losses could be in the range of Rs 5 lakh crore.  

What are the adversely impacted sectors due to COVID-19 pandemic? 

  • Adversely impacted sectors are tourism & hospitality, restaurants, organised retail, media & entertainment, logistics and real estate, among others.  
  • Consequences: Workers in these sectors could seek redeployment into other sectors or alternative livelihood opportunities. 
  • Way Ahead: Reskilling of such workers can make the churn smoother and less disruptive for these vulnerable categories.  

What steps need to be taken for reskilling? 

  • Reskilling can be taken up in a phased manner  
  • Initially target of reskilling should be a section of migrant workers who have returned to their source states 
  • It should also be done to those who were in sectors where jobs are not likely to come back soon due to social distancing. 
  • At least 25% of the at-risk workforce needs to be targeted, which is seeking redeployment and can be made relatively productive through reskilling. 
  • This reskilling will be a short-term mission because most of this workforce would hopefully get back to their first occupation/location once the situation improves in the medium term. 

Which sectors can take up more jobs? 

As in the supply equation, the demand situation can be divided into three areas.  

1. Domestic consumption-facing sectors 

  • This includes the gig economy that could temporarily support lost livelihoods in the most impacted sectors.  
  • As healthcare resources are under stress in the management of Covid-19, there is a huge demand for not only related healthcare personnel, but also workers in general patient care, diagnostics, health-tech and counsellors.  
  • Also, e-commerce, telecom, financial services, etc, are relatively resilient sectors that can absorb manpower. 

2. Self-Employment

  • For reverse migrants who will not return in the short term, training can be provided for entrepreneurship and self-employment 
  • Opportunities are also likely to come up due to economic revival and focused on rural economy (rural roads, houses and light manufacturing) 
  • Since agriculture remains the mainstay for rural India, a section of migrant labourers could be reskilled in high-value agriculture (horticulture, livestock, sericulture, aquaculture and plantations). 

Way Ahead  

  • Remodelling skill value chain: Candidates have to be motivated to undergo remote counselling and a predominant digital delivery of learning. 
  • Leveraging of Technology: Since vocational training is more hands-on, technologies like AR/VR-powered simulating training has to be integrated with video-based teaching. 
  • Capabilities and Mindset: Trainer capacity has to be enhanced to provide more online training. Importantly, a mindset change at all levels of skill delivery, administration and governance has to be enabled. 
  • Bridging Digital Divide: Digital infrastructure for a time-bound reskilling effort needs to be seamlessly integrated into the long-term plan of ‘digital-first skilling’. This requires addressing issues like digital illiteracy & digital accessibility 

 Conclusion 

A reskilling programme run in a mission mode will not only strengthen the vocational education ecosystem, but also improve its aspiration value and linkages with employment and livelihood. 

Connecting the dots:

  • Skill India Mission 
  • Make in India program

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