Why Upgrading Skills Remains a Challenge to Closing the Digital Skills Gap in Industrial Revolution 4.0

Of the 150 companies surveyed, 75% said there was a lack of skills in their workforce, revealed India Skill Report 2022 by Wheebox, an online remotely proctored testing company. The survey further revealed that in the information technology, engineering and manufacturing industry, 80% of employers identify the skills gap as a problem. “The challenge is that the demand for skills-based knowledge in industry is increasing over time. However, the time needed to train and improve is limited,” Dilip Chenoy, former secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI) told FE Education Online. He pointed out that India should first create its skilled workforce, after which the country can plan to retain it.

India is expected to face a shortage of around 14 to 19 lakh technical professionals by 2026, according to data from the Nasscom-Zinnov 2022 report, the report revealed. For industry experts, the lack of skills and certification programs is one of the main reasons for this lack. “Institutions should leverage content available through free online platforms such as Study Webs of Active–Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM), to launch courses in institutions to address the challenge of the digital divide,” Kirti Seth, CEO, Sector Skill Council, National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), said.

In addition, experts have estimated that the skills needed to boost Industrial Revolution 4.0 mainly include soft and technical skills, artificial intelligence and machine learning-focused knowledge, and data and business analytics. “The Indian education system is mostly very old-fashioned. We need to bring cognitive skills, growth mindset, cultural intelligence and digital literacy, influence here to create innovators and entrepreneurs in the country,” Manish Malhotra, President, MD, Digital Commonwealth, Founder, Australian Technical and Management College (ATMC) Education Group, noted.

Interestingly, the Wheebox report found that the most employable score in academia was for Bachelor of Technology graduates with 55.1%, followed by MBA graduates with 55.09% and Bachelor of Arts with 44, 2%. “For non-STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) students, digital literacy is the need of the hour, which includes basic technical skills such as user interface and user experience ( UI/UX), knowledge of digital tools,” explained Seth.

Industries are expected to believe that government has a crucial role to play in revitalizing the skills and training ecosystem in the country. This can be done through industry-university collaborations, they reasoned. “Additionally, a strong regulatory mechanism is equally important to avoid monopoly by private actors,” said Kanagaratnam Baskaran, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, International Research Partnership, Deakin University.

Valerie J. Wallis