June 19 – In order to overhaul the situation of persistent unemployment for low-skilled workers and a shortage of high-skilled workers in India, the government must provide job-relevant vocational training to at least 285 million working Indians, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) said in a report released last week.
According to the report, India and the other emerging economies of South Asia and Africa will replace China as the new global source of mid-level workers with secondary education. However, the report also noted that by 2020, there could be as many as 58 million surplus low-skilled workers in the Indian market. Over the past decade, 41 percent of India’s job creation was in low-skilled construction, compared to 16 percent in China. If the current trends persist, by 2020, there will be 340 million workers without secondary education in India alone.
“Early choices made in education, with a focus on universal secondary education, made China move ahead of India in the creation of medium-skill jobs. A huge thrust in China has been on rural education, helping generate non-farm jobs for people,” explains Anu Madgavkar, a senior fellow at MGI. She added that while India currently boasts a well-developed higher education system, there is little focus on upgrading the skills of the low-end labor pool.
“We need to build and push secondary education in a big way to strengthen the base,” said Madgavkar. “This has been done in nations like South Korea, which did a good job of ramping up secondary and higher education with a focus on technical and vocational education. Similarly, South Africa is training teachers to impart basic skills to adult workers.”
In order to catch the opportunity of replacing China as one of the largest pools of new mid-level workers, the Indian government must take action to improve the country’s education system and training environment. As such, 1.2 million more secondary school teachers need to be hired to meet the enrollment targets, according to the report. With India’s teaching corps currently at approximately 1.5 million (2009), this would require expansion of 9 percent annually.