Webinar: The Future of Work in India

By Kealan Finnegan

On 3 June, the UK India Business Council held an important webinar discussing ‘The Future of Work in India’. UKIBC Associate Director Tara Panjwani chaired the discussion led by Cindy Rampersaud, Senior Vice President at Pearson Plc; Jonathan Ledger, Global TVET Specialist, DIT UK; and Anu Gupta, Head of Skills DFID India.

Cindy kicked off the conversation by describing the profound impact COVID-19 has had on individuals, companies, and governments, and emphasised the need for the workforce, and the world, to prepare for its continued effects. The post COVID-19 world will require differing demands for talent and skills – digital, technology and soft skills to name a few – in key industries to support economic recovery and social mobility.

Since virtual learning is quickly becoming the new norm, Cindy encouraged much greater investment in digital infrastructure to ensure accessibility to all income levels. This will be important given that technology has the power to break down financial and geographical barriers. We need to prepare young people from an early age to fully embed soft skills, especially adaptability, and support and encourage a DIY mindset towards lifelong learning and skills, which is increasingly becoming crucial to help students progress in their careers.

Jonathan followed with expressing the UK Government’s desire to bring about systematic changes in the world of education, adding that technical and vocational education and training (TVET) are a priority for the UK’s young workforce and the same should become the case in India given its high unemployment rate. Like Cindy, a theme in Jonathan’s presentation was the need to start educating on lifelong sustainable skills for jobs at a younger age.

Greater collaboration between government, industry and students and higher education institutions will be vital. Industry engagement will include defining standards, developing curriculum, providing funding and skills assessments, sharing labour market information, and continuing evaluation. As technology progresses, the job market also changes, requiring education to be proactive to teach the skills for jobs of the future, even new jobs that do not yet exist.

Anu concluded the presentation by addressing DFID India’s work with the Indian Government and several State governments. DFID’s Skills for Jobs (SfJ) Programme is focused on developing market skills through end to end solutions, working with governments, industries, and various UK and Indian institutions. The programme has recently been repurposed in response to COVID-19.

Changes include: a shift in the delivery model with new online training and technical learning sessions benefiting from UK expertise for e-modules and e-assessments in India and the addition of healthcare as a priority sector.

Anu also touched on the evolving trends in TVET and the numerous opportunities for UK-India collaboration especially in the area of apprenticeships. Once again, corresponding with both Cindy and Jonathan, Anu mentioned the new focus emerging on sustainable growth and development, built around holistic learning, green recovery, and leaving no one behind.

All the speakers highlighted the fact that COVID-19 and the subsequent nationwide lockdown in India has hit its informal economy the hardest (which comprises 90% of its workforce) and therefore it is hugely important to focus on empowering and equipping this vulnerable group with the skills, education and training they need to improve their livelihoods.

Many thanks again to our brilliant speakers for providing their expert insights. We invite you to watch the webinar below for the insights in full.

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