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A Workforce Lacking Digital Skills

Context

According to data from the National Sample Survey’s Multiple Indicator Survey and Labour Force Periodic Survey (2020–21), more IT or computer-based training is required across a range of industries.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights, Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization, of resources, growth, development and employment

Mains Question

It is critical to restructure the entire system of digital technology skill development in order to adapt to the changing job market. Talk about (150 words)


Key Highlights

  • The World Economic Forum projects that by 2025, 97 million new jobs will be created as a result of technological advancements in artificial intelligence and other fields, which means that the number of new jobs will outnumber the number of jobs that will be lost.
  • In the global economy, nations that can produce a highly skilled workforce in computer-based technologies will have an advantage. It is anticipated that more data-driven and machine-powered processes will be used in future jobs.
  • It’s time to teach everyone computer-based skills because the rate of technological change is accelerating and there is a shortage of these skills.
  • It is critical to restructure the entire skill development system in order to adapt to the shifting job market. With an eye towards new technologies and the nature of work in the future, it is crucial to concentrate on upskilling the workforce.

How far along is India in terms of digital skills?

  • According to the NSS 78th Round data (2020–21), skill-building programmes are clearly needed, especially in the area of computer and IT skills. For instance, less than 42% of young people in the nation know how to copy, move, and use copy-and-paste tools on a computer. Likewise, only 10% and 8.6% of young people know how to use basic arithmetic formulas in a spreadsheet and make an electronic presentation using presentation software.
  • Moving on to more difficult tasks, the data show that only 2.4% of young people are proficient in programming.Additionally, beyond these fundamental competencies, computer and IT skills are required. Artificial intelligence and automation in manufacturing and production processes are highly specialised fields that demand extensive training and experience.
  • A skilled workforce is present in many fields, according to the recently completed Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) in 2021, which offers insights into vocational and technical training.
  • In contrast to other courses, the data show a disproportionately high percentage of young people (34.7%) enrolled in IT-ITeS vocational or technical courses.

Factors that cause young people in India to lack digital literacy include:

  1. Limited Access to Technology: Many young people in India do not have access to or have insufficient use of digital devices like smartphones or computers. Economical factors, a lack of infrastructure, or social barriers may be to blame for this.
  2. Language Barriers: Because India is a multicultural nation with many different languages, many digital resources aren’t available in local dialects. Youth who do not speak English well may find it challenging to access digital content as a result.
  3. Education System Quality: Digital literacy is not always a priority in India’s educational system, and many colleges and high schools lack the resources and qualified staff to teach digital literacy.
    1. For instance, 29% of people with IT training are unemployed, despite the fact that 30% of the workforce is trained in various fields, indicating either inadequate training content or poor training quality that lowers employability.
  4. Digital Divide: In India, there is a significant gap between urban and rural areas in terms of access to digital resources and opportunities for digital skill development.
  5. Cultural Barriers: Access to digital technology may be discouraged or restricted in some regions of India due to cultural barriers, particularly for girls and women.
  6. Lack of Knowledge: Some young people might not be aware of the advantages of digital technology or how to use it efficiently for work, communication, or learning.

What steps can be taken to resolve the problem?

  • Create Digital Literacy Programmes: The first step in enhancing the workforce’s digital proficiency is to offer digital literacy courses that cover the fundamentals of using computers and the internet. Community centres, libraries, or even online platforms may offer these programmes.
    • The government has implemented a number of skill-building initiatives in this regard, including the Skill India Mission.
  • Provide Access to Digital Devices and Connectivity: Employees need access to digital devices like smartphones, tablets, or computers as well as internet connectivity in order to learn digital skills. Government and private organisations can assist by making these resources accessible at reasonable prices.
  • Provide skill-based training: Many employees might not possess the necessary abilities to use digital tools or technologies. Offering programmes for skill-based training can aid in their development of the abilities required to function in a digital environment.
  • For instance, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 4.0 and the Skill India Mission both seek to train and certify millions of people in a variety of vocational skills, including IT and digital skills, with an emphasis on cutting-edge technologies like robotics, mechatronics, and artificial intelligence.
  • Work together with employers: Employers have a significant impact on how well their staff members are able to use technology. They can create internal training programmes or work with training organisations to offer training opportunities to their staff.
  • Promote lifelong learning: As the digital world evolves, workers must stay current with emerging tools and technologies. Promoting lifelong learning among employees can help them keep abreast of the most recent advancements in the digital sphere.
  • Everyone must receive mandatory IT training: Specialised IT or computer skills are now increasingly necessary for people in all industries to remain competitive in the global market.

Describe PMKVY 4.0.

  • The Finance Minister announced that the Centre would launch PMKVY 4.0 within the next three years during the presentation of Budget 2023.
  • The PMKVY 2.0 and PMKVY 3.0 launches took place in 2016 and 2020, respectively.
  • For PMKVY 4.0, the youth would have access to skills related to Industry 4.0, such as AI, coding, mechatronics, drones, 3D printing, and more.
  • In addition to PMKK and the empanelled private Training Centres of NSDC, the skill training delivery network under PMKVY 4.0 is being expanded to include Schools, Colleges, Industrial Training Institutes, and vocational infrastructure spread across various Ministries institutions.

Conclusion

In order for the workforce to compete in the digital economy, a significant portion must undergo significant skilling, upskilling, or reskilling because digital transformation affects all industries


March 2024
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