India has more than 50 per cent of its population below the age of 25 and more than 65 per cent below the age of 35. It is expected that in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years, compared to 37 for China and 48 for Japan. We always hear our political leaders brag about the demographic dividend our country has, but I wonder if we are re-skilling our young talent to harness the future digital opportunity.
Robotic and industrial internet revolution will be a reality soon
One of the greatest advantages India has enjoyed has been its low cost manufacturing labour. A lot of manufacturing businesses are now moving towards robotics process automation in their plants. Millions of jobs across many manufacturing plants are threatened by this inevitable technological progress. Robotics adoption, carbon 3D printing will affect business and economics structures, resulting in massive unemployment in manufacturing as well as agriculture sector. Low-cost labour in a particular country is no longer an advantage if the company can manufacture without human labour. The humans that know how to work with the robots, will be among the highest paid talent in any country.
Several industries are under threatened by AI and automation
Google recently made global news this week when it showed off Google Duplex, its new technology to handle tasks over the phone. It is amazing to see how an AI equipped phone can make calls on your behalf and effortlessly carry a conversation. This technology also poses a serious threat to over ~3 lacs call centre workers in India. AI industry also has serious implication on legal, accounting, and traditional branch banking professionals in the country. According to a report by Gartner, as automation adoption grows, 70 per cent of the workload can be managed by robots and machines, without any human supervision. World Bank data also estimates that approximately 69 per cent of today’s jobs in India are threatened by automation.
Start-up ecosystem is yet to prove itself
Paytm is inspired by Alipay. Flipkart is inspired by Amazon. Ola is inspired by Uber. Oyo is inspired by AirBnb. India needs an innovative start-up ecosystem, rather than one that blindly copies silicon-valley innovations. Apart from the successful Flipkart-Walmart deal, most start-ups in India have not managed to give good returns to the investors. The government can simplify certain processes and regulations to ensure that the entrepreneur ecosystem flourishes in the country.
Education quality still needs to improve
Literacy is still a challenge in India. Government has not been able to revolutionise public schooling. Millions of people are still illiterate in India, and totally unemployable. Barring the students from few prestigious universities like IIT’s, IIM’s, Delhi University and quality private colleges, most of the graduates are not industry ready or employable. Quantity has been the focus of India’s engineering and post graduate colleges and this resulted in the deterioration of quality education. The research and development and innovation of curriculum has been of mediocre quality at the bottom 90 per cent of the universities and the colleges.
This article is not about preaching what the government can do or must do. The intent is to make you prepare for the future scenarios. It was easy to get a job ten years ago. All you had to do was get a MBA degree and show up for the interview. Thus, if you are a student, choose the course that equips you with the skills needed for the digital age of robotics, industry 4.0, AI and data analytics.
If you are working in some traditional business or industry which is threatened by future technological changes, your goal should be to reskill yourself for future. Luckily, any person with a smartphone and internet connection can educate himself and herself for the future.
There are thousands of free online courses available on the internet that can prove to be a game-changer for you. Learn the skills that are going to be highest paid skill in the year 2020 or 2025. More you prepare on the training ground, less you will bleed in the war.