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(Re)defining focus: Employability & Workforce Readiness

The COVID19 pandemic, ensuing lock-downs and restrictions have unprecedentedly disrupted economic activities and opportunities, among other socio-economic parameters. It is needless to mention the massive loss of jobs. Various reports and credible agencies highlighted the grim situations followed after the lockdown. More than 1 billion children are at risk of falling behind due to school closures aimed at containing the spread of COVID-19. CMIE reported 18.9 Million salaried people lost their jobs during the pandemic in 2020. In January 2021, CMIE reported that the jobs are moving away from labour intensive domain like manufacturing to Agriculture or construction. By the time we are April 2021, arguably, there seems to be a second wave of COVID. Therefore 2021 and beyond requires sustainable and topic approaches towards employability, employment and workforce readiness. There are likely multiple models which can address the unmet requirements of youth and their skills development, employability and workforce readiness.

Challenges & Opportunities for Youth

 

The country with the youngest population – India – needs multi-pronged approach & solutions towards skilling, employability and workforce readiness and importantly to ensure democratization at large scale. The demography, the educational and skilling opportunities already available and aspirations of the youth would largely determine the nature of model. We believe that broadly 3 approaches should & can provide opportunities to youth.

  1. Future IT Skills and Workforce readiness
    • The technological landscape is changing rapidly. Needless to mention the role “digital or technology” played / has been playing during pandemic and in subsequent restrictions. The job roles and market have been significantly changed and transformed. Job losses do require re-skilling or up-skilling. Rapid digitization is on the scale.
    • The future IT skills training for Industry 4.0 topics viz., Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning or Data Science, etc. for the Science & Engineering graduates from the universities or out-of-college youth can further bolster their job-readiness.
    • CSR organizations have the power to create sustainable model of such training programmes.
    • This will be a win-win-win proposition for the youth, private sectors and for the labor market.
  2. TVET: Technical Vocational Education and Training
    • A lot of youth who either could not complete their formal education or training or rendered job-less are at a significant disadvantage. Many youths have lost jobs during pandemic, and require up-skilling.
    • The TVET model should aim at not just the re-/up-skilling but also enabling the skills relevant to local market job requirements for the youth.
    • TVET model should further create better career pathways for the youth with meaningful career / employment opportunities.
    • Both Future IT skills and TVET programmes should integrate employable 21st century skills towards work-force readiness
  3. Social Entrepreneurship
    • Social entrepreneurship is becoming an important instrument for economic activities while addressing the social problems. Social entrepreneurship leverages the local innovation and at times clubs power of technology for scale and grass root intervention. CSRs can partner with intermediary organization or incubators to incubate the social businesses and accelerate the growth oriented social enterprises, which can create more net new jobs.
    • In collaboration with incubator(s), private sector can provide the mentorship as well to the social enterprises. The structured mentorship programme has power to transfer the corporate practices & knowledge on GTM, product / service road map validation, business canvassing, or even support the technological innovation to the social enterprises.

Massive scale & Sustainable approach

SAP’s Code Unnati envisions to intervene into all 3 models. The scale required to achieve massive scale for the country as huge as India is possible through working on multi-pronged approach.

Partnership will be the key to achieve scale: SAP is going to partner with private sectors, government organizations and incubators to achieve the scale. Many of our interventions shall be in the form of public-private partnerships too. Collaborations would enable us share resources and mitigate project risks. Our higher purpose will be power best run social enterprises and the opportunity through digital inclusion. We would create the sustainable and long-term initiatives with the objective of facilitating more jobs creations. Project sustainability can be achieved through BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) approach, and the local communities, administration or university will own up the programme. SAP will significantly invest into building social infrastructure and capacity enhancement of local teachers. Partnership model with private sector and academia collectively, will help us with large scale capacity building on Future IT skills.

The year of 2021 will be crucial for the large no of youth, whose education is disrupted or are in search of better career pathways. CSR initiatives can ensure career & growth pathways to our youth and budding social enterprises.  We need to democratize the technology education, enable skilling opportunities and create meaningful employment opportunities. No one model will help achieve the large scale impact – and CSR investments can ensure the same.

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