For budget 2020, many industry leaders are expecting that the finance minister will announce adequate funds on reskilling, education and ed-tech companies.
The budget season is upon us, and analysts from all industries are waiting on the sidelines to see how their industry will be impacted. But there is one thing that everyone agrees on — for the government to achieve the target of making India a $5 trillion economy, it is crucial that the vast majority of the population gets access to jobs.
Unfortunately, the job market in recent times has been slowing dramatically. Experts have feared that the situation can become worse in the coming years as most companies look towards cutting excessive costs via technologies like robotic process automation, computer vision and natural language processing.
So, is Digital India prepared for this disruption? Probably not, say most experts.
According to most industry leaders, what India needs is a move and allocation of resources to fill this critical gap and set the groundwork across various industries. So, this time the industry is expecting that the finance minister will announce adequate funds on reskilling, education, ed-tech to help the young population have jobs that will be created with tech disruption, and move away from ones which may soon become obsolete.
“For India to have a $5 trillion economy, the youth have a key role to play in enabling this goal. The advantage of the youth dividend needs to be channelised and enabled to put the country on the map. Quality education is important, especially in the emerging fields such as artificial intelligence, big data, virtual reality and machine learning apart from management and services in established sectors,” tells Nitish Jain, President, SP Jain School of Global Management.
That means the government has put the first step forward with skilling focus on emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics. The government is expected to support the reskilling of the IT workforce to help them stay relevant in the global industry, experts said. This means rising education budgets with a key focus on STEM. Plus, experts say there is a need to bring automation to the classroom to make education efficient and fill the gap for lack of teachers.
Will India Follow The Chinese Route For Widespread AI And STEM Education?
Just as the Chinese government has set 2030 deadline to integrate AI with their infrastructure, according to industry leaders, there is a similar requirement in India too. But, that may entail spending hundreds of millions or billions of dollars on AI education, research and training programs. According to one report, AI adoption in Chinese education industry will grow rapidly over the next five years and is estimated to climb to a global expenditure of $6b by 2025. The linkage of AI with the education sector in China is also expanding fast, especially after the government promoted the application of AI in the form of tax breaks. Many of those initiatives have been introduced in the country’s schools for making smart training systems.
“Interim Budget 2019 announced an increase of 10 per cent in the education budget, a total amount of Rs 93,847.64 crore, for nationwide academic development. This year, it is expected that more financial support will be promised for education. Vivid introduction of technology in the classroom environment and knitting artificial intelligence with mainstream education is the way forward. India needs to integrate itself with the global big bang of technology. Introducing robots in education to revolutionise STEM can play a significant role in transforming education,” according to Beas Dev Ralhan, Co-Founder and CEO at Next Education India.
India’s education system is known for inefficiencies, which may hamper student learning. As collecting data goes up in India’s education sector, it will become important for India to leverage that to provide improved education and training methodologies. The long term value will be generated for the young and growing Indian population to secure meaningful jobs that can beat widespread automation.
Amol Arora, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Shemford Group of Futuristic School explains, “One of the big issues plaguing India’s education system currently is the education at the school level not being aligned to the future job needs. The current education system was made for the industrial age and certainly not for the information age as today. The challenge right now is not merely creating students who will secure jobs but students who can thrive in the volatile environment of the future. To narrow down the education-employability gap and build a skilled workforce, we have to get the ed-tech companies to the forefront. It is time for the government of India to give due recognition and in the upcoming Union Budget and boost the new age education tech sector.
A Reskilling & Upskilling Fund Is The Need Of The Hour
A study by EY and Nasscom predicted that by 2022, around 46% of the workforce would be engaged in entirely new jobs that do not exist today or will be deployed in jobs that have radically changed skill sets. According to many industry leaders, The government must give aid by incentivising organisations investing in the reskilling, upskilling of their workforce for the AI age as part of Skill India. With the lack of a skilled workforce in the deep tech sector, reskilling of employees in AI, ML, IoT will help increase India’s IT sector and enhance its competitive edge amidst the changing enterprise landscape.
“An upskilling fund is the need of the hour today to battle the skills gap created in India by emerging technologies such as AI/machine learning. Every employer should be mandated to provide a learning budget to help their employees continuously upskill and this expenditure should be reimbursed to the employer through the upskilling fund disbursed in the form of a tax rebate. A corporate obligation towards upskilling incentivised by the government will ensure that human resources in the country are skilled in emerging technologies / hot skill areas while energising the workforce and eliminating all fears for the future,” says Vivek Kumar, MD, Springboard India.
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Vishal Chawla is a senior tech journalist at Analytics India Magazine and writes about AI, data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and blockchain. Vishal also hosts AIM's video podcast called Simulated Reality- featuring tech leaders, AI experts, and innovative startups of India.