How to Tackle the Challenges of Skill Development in India – 2019 & Beyond


Skills development is a criticalaspect of any nation’s economic as well social growth and development, especiallyin a country like India where the demographic transition calls for higher employmentopportunities for millions of employable youths entering the market each year. Inthis blog we explore ways in which organizations can tackle the challenges ofreskilling and upskilling their workforce in the face of a looming economicslowdown, technological disruptions and the future of work.  

Withhalf of India’s population (1.3 billion) below the age of 25 and the averageage of the population set to reach 29 by 2020 (as opposed to 47 years in Japan,40 years in United States and 46 years in Europe), there is a greater chance ofIndia’s demographic dividend providing disappointing results than boostingeconomic growth, as the nation continues to struggle with unemployment, lack ofemployment opportunities, skills gaps and technology adoption.

India’s Widening Skills Gap

Asthe fastest growing economy in the world, India stands to benefit largely fromits employable population. However, with 104.62 million-strong workforce set to enterthe labor market by 2022, with only 1% of the population making up 22% ofnational income, India’s lower skills intensity presents a mammothchallenge, whereas Indian organizations need to focus on the development of itsworkforce with relevant knowledge and skills to effectively complement thecountry’s growth. However, to achieve this result, India needs its diverseindustries to embrace as well as propagate skills training programs for theirexisting and future employees with meaningful certifications with effective andsustainable long-term skills development strategies.

Although it’s easier said thandone, Indian organizations have long been wary of the double edged sword thatis India’s dual challenge of a lack of highly skilled labor on one hand and theun-employability of large sets of educated population with no relevant jobskills. This is apparent in the fact that there are already severe gaps in industrydemands and the skill level of the workforce. There are many reasonscontributing to this factor, including insufficient training facilities/opportunities, mismatch between skills and education, limited industry inputsamong others.

Clearly, India’s skilldevelopment ecosystem is leaning more towards formal education and rarelyaccommodates vocational training. With such kind of detachment amid formaleducation and work demands, the skill gap challenges will only escalate,calling for concerted efforts to ensure sustained skills development and employability.However, to address the skills gap and transform the skill developmentecosystem to accommodate the industry demands, organizations must define andadopt efficient, scalable and sustainable employee training programs.

Tackling Skill Development Challenges

Although India has a range of skilling programs at the government level, including Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) of the Central Government, Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Directorate of General Training (DGT) and Basic Training Centers, training programs from departments like commerce and industry, agriculture, housing and poverty alleviation etc., the country has merely trained over 4.5% of its total workforce, whereas a recent report suggests that only 18% of individuals participating in vocational courses got employed.

As worrying as these statisticsare, there is a growing danger of Indian organizations failing to exploit the opportunityof benefiting from the demographic dividend if the nation’s young workforce isnot skilled as per industry standards. The answer to tackling the skilldevelopment challenges is deeply rooted in corporate Learning & Development(L&D) and training delivery tools and solutions.

With global technology titans likeAmazon, Google and Microsoft marking a larger presence across India, thecountry’s corporate sector is being significantly influenced by global L&Dpractices. Leading organizations across the country are now leveraging modern eLearningplatforms and innovative learn-tech tools to support a host of objectives,including employee upskilling and reskilling.

According to Nitin Bawankule,Industry Director, Google India, “Theonline education segment is set to become a multi-billion dollar opportunity inIndia. There are many factors driving this growth including the perceivedconvenience, increased reach and personalization offered by online channels.”There is no doubt that India’s potential for learning technology adoption andgrowth remains significantly promising, given the sheer amount of Internet (andmobile) users in the country, coupled with the rising number of employableindividuals looking for the availability of reskilling opportunities.

According to Nasscom, the increasing adoption of bigdata and analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI)is set to drive the cloud market growth in India towards a $ 7.1 billionindustry by 2022. It certainly wouldn’t be too farfetched to include Learning Management Systems (LMS) in this growth trend.

Learning technology solutions and eLearning programs will continue to bring key advantages to India’s corporate sector. A country as economically, geographically and culturally diverse as India will benefit from the wide ranging learn-tech solutions, including Mobile Learning (anytime-anywhere learning, on-the-go learning etc.), multi-lingual support, virtual class rooms, blended learning and social learning to name a few. And, with the availability of online learning libraries (through an LMS), employees and organizations have access to limitless number of learning resources at their beck and call.

It is important to note that fewof these solutions are especially critical for Indian organizations’ L&Dinitiatives as they help navigate the regional, cultural and lingual barriers.Furthermore, one of the most advantageous aspects of modern day learn-techtools for Indian businesses is their ability to provide individuals placed inremote towns and villages the access to world-class learning resources, at affordable prices, thuscreating a sense of equal opportunity.

Considering the significant skillsgap facing the country, Indian organizations need to step up their L&D gameto match the global standards. And, one of the very first steps towardsachieving this aim is to start aggressively integrating learning technologyinto India’s growing corporate landscape. This means customizing eLearningapproaches and online learning content delivery mechanisms to meet the evolvingneeds of India’s diverse population.


When used responsibly andintelligently, learning technology can gauge the learners’ requirements,analyze their learning behaviors as well as provide insights into improving thelearning process. Finally, learning is an unending process and technology is indispensableto our everyday lives. Thus, learning technology and eLearning certainly have akey role to play in tackling the skill development challenges in India, notonly in 2019 but also in the foreseeable future.