Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist Romesh Wadhwani likes to talk about wealth creation. He spoke to Goutam Das on India’s jobs crisis and the skilling challenge.
Jobs are not keeping pace with economic growth. How can it be fixed?
The first is to focus on Start-up India, but focus on the full lifecycle of a start-up – from providing students education to become entrepreneurs to supporting access to the ecosystem of mentors and angel investors, and providing start-ups with opportunities for growth. This could be in the form of procurement opportunities and innovation grants. The second intervention will be to remove barriers in the way we classify businesses as micro, small, and medium. Any company should be incentivised to grow to its largest possible scale. Third, we need to accelerate the growth of innovation.
What is the biggest obstacle in skilling people at the bottom of the pyramid?
Part of it is motivation. You have to create that desire in people while they can still be influenced as students. Then, the skilling institutions – whether they are ITIs or privately owned vocational institutions – need to be market-focused. Markets can be different depending on the region. Third, we need an apprentice programme, the final mile of training.
Start-ups can create jobs. But what would be the impact when the bubble is pricked?
There are so many sectors in India. There is an IT services sector that has nothing to do with B2C e-commerce. The job creation in that sector is not determined by what happens to Flipkart and Snapdeal. Similarly, the automotive industry’s job creation is also not impacted by B2C e-commerce. The bubble is in a very narrow slice of the economy.