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Overcoming Skilling Challenges of India post the China Meltdown

One area where India lags behind China apart from other parameters is China’s ability to churn out large numbers of skilled manpower to meet its growing needs.

By Sunil Dahiya

Over the past few years and especially post the global Covid-19 pandemic affecting millions of people around the world, China is facing a global backlash that has put a big question mark on it continuing as the ‘factory of the world’. Many countries in Europe, and the US don’t see China with the same lens as they did a decade ago. This backlash has come as a blessing to many countries in the Third World like India, Vietnam, Taiwan etc. India is sensing an opportunity and is more than eager to fill in the space likely to be vacated by China sooner or later. This weakened global position of China has given an opportunity to India to attract more international investments and technologies.

Many companies have shown interest to move their manufacturing bases to India. Already international giants like Apple and Samsung plan to expand their manufacturing bases in India. At least 24 mobile phone companies plan to set up mobile phone factories in India. Assembly partners of giant players in the electronics segment have shown interest in moving to India. These companies have pledged investments to the tune of $1.5 billion so as to establish mobile-phone factories, according to Bloomberg.

The Indian government had announced a production linked incentive (PLI) scheme for large scale electronics manufacturing to uplift domestic manufacturing and give impetus to large-scale investments in cell phone manufacturing and other specified electronic components.

However, if India intends to become the first choice of all investments moving out of China, we need to relook at many crucial aspects. There are several challenges we need to address:

  • In today’s scenario, where global economies are fractured, it will be a difficult task to relocate entire supply chains. The uncertain business environment and the drying up of cash flows is inhibiting companies to make a quick decision despite the government making available the land for operational setup.
  • Production process and the supply chains are more closely entrenched than most people tend to believe, and it is not easy to dismantle them overnight. An integrated approach to infrastructure developments viz. ports and highways and building capacities for quality labour and complex logistics will be extremely important to attract international companies to set up local operations. India needs to quickly put its house in order as it might not be the first choice for global majors simply because of its lack of integration with global supply chains.
  • India needs to ready its talent pool in abundance to meet the global standards. Large scale skilling of high standards is required. One area where India lags behind China apart from other parameters is China’s ability to churn out large numbers of skilled manpower to meet its growing needs. India similarly needs to set up high skill training schools across the country. The private sector needs to gear up to play a pivotal role in integrating industries with the skilling ecosystem. The state governments will be major stakeholders in developing in-house workshops in schools and creating more technical schools.
  • With skill development focus likely to shift to the manufacturing sector, strategizing for the benefit of both the employers and workers becomes paramount.
  • One of the most important elements will be to develop regional skilling hubs. This will require a strong collaborative approach between state governments, training providers and corporates
  • Innovate in training solutions by practice-based learning and on-the-job, experience by real-time exposure on the shop floor through apprenticeships
  • Inculcating a skills-oriented mindset by providing encouragement, avenues and incentives to address one’s own skilling needs
  • Developing more personalized and targeted training programmes based on demonstrated capabilities
  • Introducing a strong certification programme to recognize capabilities learned within a specific curriculum framework

The above will go a long way in solidifying and strengthening the skills foundation for India to be ready for an economic resurgence and the opportunities arising out of China’s increasing isolation in world trade. If India is able to overcome the listed challenges and is able to implement the investor-friendly policies and also ensure smooth transition of all companies relocating to India, it will give a big boost to the economy apart from creating thousands of jobs. With an expected GDP growth of over 11% this year, Corporate India can certainly look forward to brighter days ahead.

Source: ET HRWorld