India is home of relatively the youngest population across the world and is sitting on the historical opportunity to reap the benefits of demographic transition. This phase comes once in the lifetime of a nation and we must make a very systematic all out efforts to transform this demographic dividend into an economic dividend. Realization of demographic dividend is not automatic and requires a well thought of policy framework implementation in the field of education, employment, entrepreneurship and essential services. If we fail to decide and design the right approach at right time, we may not get any benefit out of our demographic dividend and, even worse, may end up into demographic disaster. In order to fully exploit this limited time window we must train and channelize the youths of our nation in the right direction to create success stories out of 'Make in India', ' Skill In India', 'Digital India','Startup India' and similar programs.
"India as a nation should emphasise more on the development of skills and entrepreneurial mind-set"
However, if we look at the employment and entrepreneurship statistics then the scenario is very dismal. Reports by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) and aspire minds suggest that only 20 percent of the five million students who graduate every year get employed and indeed only 5 percent engineers and 7 percent MBAs are employable. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), in a report, has projected unemployment in India at 18.6 million for 2018, higher than the 18.3 million in 2017. In another report, world bank (WB) has warned India that it must create 8.1 million jobs a year to maintain its employment HIGHER| 9|May 2019 Review rate.B Suresh, Chief Sales Officer, Naukri.com, says that irrespective of the market scenario, 'good talent' is always in demand and in short supply, niche job skills are needed across the sector.
It's a real paradoxical situation for the India, as a nation, where at one end we are churning out huge numbers of STEM graduates looking for jobs and at the other end industries and corporates are struggling to get the skilled manpower. This is the biggest bottleneck in transmuting demographic dividend into economic dividend.
India's demographic dividend appears to be very conducive for Startup entrepreneurs. India as the youngest nation in the world and its enormous population offers one of the largest consumer base in the world. It offers unlimited opportunities for every unique need of every segment of population. Its infrastructure, education, healthcare, banking, finance, insurance, traffic, cleanliness drive etc are in dire need of up gradation and offers unlimited opportunities for the start-ups to create a difference. As per the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor(GEM) survey only five per cent of the country's people go on to establish their own businesses which is among the lowest in the world, where as the business discontinuation rate is among the highest at 26.4 percent. According to the Randstad Work monitor survey around 76 per cent of the workforce of India wants to work with start-ups. However, more people are coming forward to establish their start-ups every year but the success rate, as per oxford economics report, is only about 10% and most of them fail because of lack of innovation. Thus, as a country we face dual challenge. At the producer end, we have a huge task to bridge the skill gap and make the people job ready;and at the consumer end,we need to create more jobs to employ the youths. Digitisation and emerging technologies are fast changing markets for existing industries, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs and replacing job roles with new skills and mindset. I feel that our education system has failed miserably to keep pace with the shifting global market landscape. General observation and a bitter fact is that our universities are not preparing the students properly to fill these roles because they are still educating the graduates in the same manner as they were doing since years.
I firmly believe that education, and especially the STEM Education, is the key to economic development and sustainable growth of any Nation. However, looking at the technological innovations, global scenario and demography of the country - India as a nation should emphasise more on the development of skills and entrepreneurial mind-set. Industry based skill development and entrepreneurship should formally be included in the university curriculum and given due weightage and importance. It is need of the hour to add another S (Skills) and E (Entrepreneurship) to the education system and make a paradigm shift from STEM to SSTEEM - Science, Skills, Technology, Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Mathematics. If we want to prepare our graduates for the jobs of the future and foster the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs, we must have a strong will power and courage to reinvent and transform our education system from STEM to SSTEEM.
It's high time that all the stakeholders, namely, industries, government and academia work together to reshape our higher education system so that it produces graduates with the right skills and right kind of entrepreneurial mind-set who can contribute and fuel the economic growth of the nation.