New-age Skills Essential For Youth In The Rising Platform Economy: Reports

Quest Alliance produced a report in collaboration with Tandem Research, which was supported by Cisco as part of the Future Right Skills Network.

A report by Quest Alliance, produced in collaboration with Tandem Research and supported by Cisco as part of the Future Right Skills Network, says skill-building with specific reference to the platform economy has significant potential to revive India’s growth in a post-COVID world. Speaking at the web release of the Report, titled ‘Skilling for the Future of Work – An Outlook for Youth in the Platform Economy’, Aakash Sethi, CEO, Quest Alliance, said, “Over the last decade of our work with Industrial Training Institutes (ITI)s, we have found that mere proficiency in trade or industry skills will no longer suffice in the 21st Century workplace – more so in a post-COVID world. Given the immense capacity of the platform economy to create jobs in the near future, our research points to specific skills that can empower ITI graduates to access and navigate these opportunities.” 

India has one of the largest youth populations in the world, with 4.75 million youth expected to enter the workforce every year. The youth labour force participation rate was pegged at 38.1 per cent in 2018-2019, but rapid developments, such as the growth of the platform economy in India, have created new job roles and opportunities.  

“Platform economies have the flexibility to meet the needs of the future of work. Education and skilling sectors, therefore, need to focus on building skills that will enhance employability opportunities, while also nurturing self-learning mindsets to ensure that the potential of India’s demographic dividend is maximised,” said Neelam Shami Rao, IAS, Director-General, Training, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India. Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) – which cater to as many as 1.9 million students at any point of time, are the key to ensure that youth in India are future-ready for the 21st-century workplace.  

Projections made before the economic downturn in India – and subsequently, the global Covid-19 pandemic – estimated that the Indian e-commerce sector has the potential to create 1 million jobs by 2023 alone, and would be worth $200 billion by 2026. For the education and skilling ecosphere, digital work platforms are the answer to the acute challenges that young people – especially those from marginalised backgrounds – face while seeking employment. E-commerce, hyperlocal delivery of food and other products, logistics, and online freelance work are all set to see further platformization in the next few years. To maximise employment potential within these sectors, skilling in key areas such as entrepreneurial skills, communication and problem-solving, financial literacy and management, and digital fluency need to be prioritised immediately. Above all, these skills need to be rooted in a self-learning mindset that enables young people to reskill and upskill with agility, empowering them to navigate the changing nature of work. 

“ITIs wield a considerable amount of influence on the future of the economy – serving as a bridge between the aspirations of the youth and the demands of the workforce in a technology-driven world. We believe that it is the duty of technology leaders like us to ensure that skilling institutions have the right support to train and prepare the youth for future work opportunities. In this endeavour, we have been collaborating with the Director-General of Training (DGT) to provide crucial resources that can facilitate digital learning. As the pandemic transforms the fundamental nature of work, we will continue to equip youth with the skills and tools that can help them win in the platform economy,” said Harish Krishnan, MD – Public Affairs & Strategic Engagements, Cisco India. 

To a certain extent, skilling may also address the inherent issues of the platform economy that workers must contend with, such as lack of access to social protections such as the minimum wage, social security funds, health benefits and sick leave. Additionally, the digital gender divide and disparity in women’s ownership and use of digital devices can be exclusionary towards women, creating new barriers to access.

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