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May 22, 2018

With the global economy picking up during last couple of years, jobless growth has become a cause of major concern in policy makers and citizens of both developed and developing countries.

Traditionally, economic growth has a strong and positive correlation with job creation – higher the economic growth, higher is the number of jobs created. However, the current economic growth is not adding or creating new jobs in the expected proportion, thereby resulting in jobless growth phenomenon. The socio-economic impact of jobless growth is higher among the unorganized workforce as they have little or no access to social benefits such as unemployment insurance, pensions and so on.

Rapid automation is a commonly cited reason behind jobless growth. From the days of industrial revolution, automation has always disrupted sectors resulting in traditional jobs being killed and new jobs getting created. Today, the velocity of automation across sectors through aggregation of digital technologies and rapid proliferation of technology across flat borders is creating a perfect storm, which is both disrupting existing industries and creating new industries. This is making traditional jobs obsolescent and creating a huge demand for new skills at an unprecedented scale.

Today’s workforce does not possess the skills for the jobs of the future. This is resulting in a huge supply – demand asymmetry in the job market. The traditional approaches to skill development are unlikely to cope with the huge demand of rapid re-skilling of the current workforce and skilling of new entrants into the workforce.

The need of the hour is an agile, scalable, and responsive skill development ecosystem where all stakeholders act in unison to provide a seamless “skilling to employment” experience and enable the following:

  • ‘Anywhere Anyhow Anytime’ accessibility to individuals for skilling programs
  • Lifelong continuous competency upgrade by individuals
  • Tight coupling between industry demand and skill development initiatives
  • Frictionless interaction between employers and job-seekers
  • Seamless collaboration with all stakeholders of skill development ecosystem

Mainstreaming of digital technologies and the multiplier effect of their integration can create a reimagined skill development ecosystem with the following key elements:

Digital Skilling Platform: A digital skill development platform can enable a frictionless integration of employers, individuals, skill development institutions, and regulators. Among other things, the skilling platform will:

  • Manage skill registry where individuals can enrol and continuously update their skills and competencies as they upgrade those.
  • Maintain standard-based skilling courseware prepared by registered skill providers in multi-media digital formats.
  • Provide individuals with access to digital skill development courses.
  • Remove information asymmetries between employers and job-seekers.
  • Publish employment opportunities at granular level – competency, location, sector etc.
  • Facilitate ‘virtual’ connect between employers and job-seekers.

Mobility: Given the smartphone ubiquity and pervasive connectivity, all services of the digital skilling platform including enrolment, skill upgrade, and access to skill development courses should be provisioned through mobile devices apart from the traditional internet channels.

Digital Identity Assurance: Given the sensitivity of personal data maintained in the digital skill platform, end-to-end identity assurance can be rendered through biometrics, digital certificates, and digital signatures.

Big Data Analytics: The digital skilling platform will collect a huge amount of multi-dimensional data, which can be harnessed to develop insights to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the skill development ecosystem. Some of the insights, which can be derived, are:

  • Workforce supply in a given region by age, gender, social profile, education, experience, domain, and competency level
  • Map regions to enable decisions on skill coverage and outreach
  • Workforce consumption and requirement by region, industry, skill level
  • Workforce supply and consumption trends for each of the above
  • Workforce demands not met by current skill registry
  • Capacity augmentation requirements in skill development supply

The analytics will provide necessary data, analysis, trends, and forecast that help in planning at granular (micro) and holistic (macro) levels. It will also enable sector and geography level skill development interventions based on the supply and demand mismatch.

Augmented Reality: The general shortage and often urban concentration of master trainers especially in emerging skills will not go away in a short-time. Augmented Reality-based skill development courses provisioned through cloud-based digital platforms and accessible through mobile devices can be more effective as compared to in-person classroom-based skill development.

The re-skilling / skilling challenge facing nations today is huge. A poorly skilled workforce stifles investment and growth and often leads to exploitative job markets and large-scale unemployment. Transforming the skill development ecosystem and making it responsive to both industry and citizens will require holistic solutions powered with digital technologies.


Rajdeep heads the business development and marketing functions for the Government business unit at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). He has over 20 years of cross functional experience and anchors several strategic transformation programs for domestic and international government bodies at TCS.


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