Learn and Lead

About continual learning and leadership

Skilling India: Mine the Young Workforce

My article originally published in Deccan Herald on 21 Jan 2016.

Prosperous countries with high GDP and per capita income tend to have high skill capital. This also translates to better quality of life and growth in the Human Development Index. As economies evolve from being commodity centric to knowledge centric, growth is increasingly dependent on availability of skills.

Our country has a great opportunity in terms of its demographic dividend. While we are growing to be the most populous country, expected to overtake China between 2022 and 2028, the opportunity lies in the fact that we will also be the youngest country with the median age of population at 32. Almost 64 per cent of our population will be in the working age group by 2021.

India is expected to have a workforce surplus of 47 million people against the workforce deficit in most large economies. In addition to being the youngest country, India is also expected to be the fastest growing economy. This year, we expect our economic growth rate to overtake that of China. India, therefore, is sitting on a huge opportunity of a large and young workforce surplus complemented by a fast growing economy. It is critical that India focuses on skill development both for economic growth as well as social development.

A sure way to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth is to provide a mechanism to acquire skills, empowering the disadvantaged sections with skill development opportunities and developing a skill growth programme for continuous education and productivity enhancements. A skilled workforce aligned to industry needs will maintain the growth trajectory and competitiveness of various sectors of the Indian economy.

However, the challenge ahead of us is equally huge. The enrolment in educational institutes drops by almost half at each stage of critical development of children and youth between age groups of 5-14 years and 15-19 years. Most of these drop-outs join the workforce, which results in its illiterate to semi-literate profile. Almost 64 per cent of our workforce is primary level educated or illiterate, leaving only 36 per cent with middle or higher level education.

Even as our Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) is rising over the years, the current GER suggests that almost 80 per cent of our youth never go to college. While the number of universities and educational institutes are rising, our teacher-student ratio is one of the lowest in the world. Additionally, in the working population of 15 to 29 years, only about 2 per cent receive any formal vocational training and 8 per cent receive non-formal vocational training. This is dismal when compared to other countries like Korea (96 per cent), Germany (75), Japan (80) and United Kingdom (68 per cent) where a large part of the working population receive formal vocational training.

Lack of skills 

The big challenge is that even if we push and create workforce that has formal education, will they be employable? A recent survey found that almost half our youth were not sure if their post-secondary education has improved their chances of finding a job. On the flip-side, in another survey of the industry, almost 40 per cent of employers say lack of skills is the main reason for entry-level vacancies. Employability of graduates of our current education system is a major concern.

To overcome these challenges, it is imperative that skill training be mainstreamed into school and higher education system. As the government aims to impart skill training to 500 million people by 2022, it has launched many schemes that are focused towards building a strong base of skill training with mainstream education. The vocationalisation of school education, community college and B Voc schemes, Kaushal Kendras to encourage skill courses in colleges are some steps in the right direction. In addition, NSDC funded vocational training providers have been set up in the last few years to support this endeavour.

For effective implementation of policies, on-ground programme management support is crucial to enable linkages between the stakeholders and ensure that the big picture is kept in mind. The use of technology should be used to enable scale, quality and consistency of training for high-demand entry and middle-level jobs.

This training should primarily be developed with industry inputs since they are the main recipients of the workforce. Industry driven, technology enabled solution that is integrated into mainstream education will go a long way in preparing us to leverage the skilling-led opportunity ahead of us.

Can Acrimony Lead to Higher Performance?

If you have been following the Delhi state's political situation, you would know that the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party are constantly at logger heads with the political powers at the Center. Given the nature of how the capital state is governed, not everything is under the Chief Minister's hierarchical control. It's a bit like matrix structures in large organization. There have been many public spats between the Delhi Chief Minister and the Police Department (which is under Central rule). There is a widespread acrimony between the two. There is a constant one-upmanship going on between the two, with each trying to do better than the other. Even though each is trying to show other as inferior (and corrupt, and inefficient), they are doing this by improving their game better than the other. In the process, both are providing better service to the public at large. This is different from the situation where opposition party trying to pull down the ruling party in parliament, wherein the strategy is primarily to point out negative things without any accountability of the opposition to deliver (whilst they are not in power).

What happens when we see similar acrimony at workplace? I observed that each person tries to prove themselves in their role. There is constant push to do better than the other person. Email responses are faster and there is a clamouring to provide better customer service.

Is it possible that acrimony in team can lead to higher performance?

Of course the side effects of acrimony is low trust amongst team, fewer ideas generated in open discussions, fewer open discussions, and in general, not a fun environment to work in. Unless the people are stuck in the jobs (like the Chief Minister and the Police Dept), there is a good chance that people in the team will just give it up and leave the organization.

Diverging Convergence

There is a divergence of devices. We are no longer limited to the desktop or a laptop. Mobile devices have overtaken the desktop and laptops. These mobile devices may be tablets or phones. Wearable devices is no longer a thing of the future. We have devices that control refrigerators, air conditioners and a host of other appliances. We have devices controlling our television and even our automobiles. The devices are everywhere. The Internet of Things is here.

And yet, we want the same information on all devices. Whether we are using laptop, or tablet or phone, we want the same information available in each device, be it email or bookmarks. We install apps on our mobile using our laptops. We want continuity in what we watch on a laptop or mobile and what we watch on the television. We want to control our appliances using our phones. We want to alerts about our automobiles on our tablets and laptops. We want the same information irrespective of the device we are using.

The devices are diverging. The information is converging.

My Top 10 Photo Editing Mobile Apps for 2014

I have been trying my hand at photography for a few years now. I started with a point and shoot camera before moving to a DSLR. The most interesting advice I read about photography was that the best camera is the one you have when you need it. Now I use the mobile phone more than any other camera. DSLR is too bulky to carry around all the time and gets used only on special occasions. I bought my phone based on the camera it has. The camera was one of the most critical criteria in my selecting the phone.

The mobile phones these days come with features that make the phone camera so powerful. You can easily focus on the area you want, set ISO, exposure and in some cases even set aperture and shutter speeds. Combine this with powerful and yet simple to use mobile apps, you can get some pretty amazing pictures using your mobile phone.

So here are my Top 10 Camera and Photo Editing Mobile Apps:

1. Pixlr : In my view the most comprehensive photo editing app on the mobile. It’s got the most editing features and add-ons like filters, borders, stickers etc.

2. HTC Gallery : The default HTC Gallery app comes with a basic photo editor that I end up using most often. It does the job well for basic cropping and image adjustments. It has limited set of borders and filters but is very handy for quick edits.

3. Photo Grid : This is the best collage app that I have found. Really easy to use. It has a large number of templates for grid collages, and it also allows you to create free form collages. You can edit each picture individually. It also has a decent set of other collage templates with stickers.

4. Color Splash : If you are looking at editing and replacing colors of your photographs, this is the app for you. You can convert your photo into a black and white image and then paint using the original color or ‘paint’ the image black and white. Creating black and white images with color splash is a breeze in this one.

5. Giant Square : If you are on Instagram, you have to try this at least once. Giant Square creates big pictures for your Instagram thumbnail view. You can take one picture and create different sizes of thumbnails, from 3x3 to horizontal or vertical aligned thumbnails that make up a big picture.

6. Instagram : While this is primarily an image sharing app, it comes with an inbuilt editor and a host of filters. I have used Instagram for editing and applying certain filters.

7. Aviary : A nifty app that does the basic editing as well as provides a host of stickers to pep up your photographs. Unfortunately only the basic stickers are free and you need to buy other cool stickers and add-ons.

8. Frontback : I discovered this app by chance. You can take one photo with the front camera and another with the back camera, and combine both of them into one picture. It’s a great way to click a selfie and show what you are seeing in one picture.

9. Lapse It : Here’s a great app for capturing amazing time-lapse and stop motion videos with your Android camera. With the paid premium version, you can add sound track to your timelapse videos and use many other features.

10. Snapseed : I have started using this app recently and am beginning to like it. While it has the basic editing features and filters, the app allows you to adjust settings even in different filter applications.

I have tried these apps on Android. It is most likely that the iPhone and Windows versions of these apps also exist. Please check the respective OS app store for the version you are looking for.

I must say that despite using these apps I haven’t been able to create images like the ones these apps show on their site. Photography is not always about the app or the camera, it is about having an eye for the picture.

All photos/videos are mine and clicked using a mobile camera. You can view more pics here.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by my employers and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of my employers.

Creative Commons License This work by Manish Mohan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.