Jobs: Skill deficit , a myth or reality?

Jobs: Skill deficit , a myth or reality?Our nation is poised to become the world’s youngest country by 2020, with an average age of 29 years. Coinciding with that event, India will account for 28% of the world’s workforce, according to an E&Y- FICCI report.

Reports indicate that the vast talent pool of the country suffers from either not having the skills to be employable or in many instances are not being able to signal their availability for jobs matching their skills due to an inefficient marketplace for jobs. This is especially true for jobs at entry level or mass recruitment, since a majority of the jobs tend to be the lower levels of in the hierarchy.

Of the five million graduates, only 34% are readily employable. Most lack necessary skills required for any role in any industry, according to an assessment tests done by Wheebox-People Strong in association with CII. Census data released in September 2013 indicated that 63.4% of India’s total population falls in the working age group. According to a study on skill development in India conducted by NSDC, 1 million people join the workforce every month i.e. over 12 million per year.They can be categorized as highly skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled, with majority falling in the last category.How this issue of employability is addressed will determine whether India eventually experiences a demographic dividend or a demographic nightmare.

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According to another study by Aspiring Minds, 47% of graduates are not employable in any sector of the economy. Poor knowledge of English and inadequate computing skills are compounded by the absence of even basic domain knowledge for roles and industry that job seekers hope to join. Unfortunately a vast majority of students prefer dead-end and non-value adding graduate degree to vocational training.

A reorientation towards vocational training or introduction of strong aspects of “learning by doing” and soft skills in graduate programmes can remedy this situation. As an immediate response, the Government is striving to achieve formal/informal skill development of the working population through various initiatives, which employ fresh learning methods.HR professionals and the Government together need to devise educational programmes which impart the required skills to the students to make them productive and employable. The private sector needs to spell out what is it that they are looking for in a fresher.


The private sector is also taking several initiatives to contribute effectively to the Government’s endeavors. Companies and industry associations across business sectors, are not only creating their in-house training facilities, but are also taking steps to make potential employees job-ready before they join organizations. A number of the jobs available for the low-end white-collar workers require a very basic level of training. What’s more in the service sector, most employers are willing to provide such training and job seekers to be gainfully employed. Besides the efforts being made towards training them and arming them with better skills, it is also crucial to identify their existing skills and preferences and connect them to jobs that they are most suited for.

Hence, it is not quite correct to say that most graduates are ‘unemployable’, since with a basic level of training interventions and on the job training, job seekers can be prepared for roles in field sales, customer service, in-store sales, back-office, logistics etc,graduates who can thus become skilled workers and be productive is huge. The skill deficit is definitely over-hyped as far as the service sector is concerned. Quite often it is simply an issue of an inefficient marketplace, which makes it difficult to for a candidate with high “fit” and “intent” to signal their presence to employers.

Skill deficit is more of a reality in manufacturing where technical expertise and training is often lacking.
It is therefore a fair conclusion that the skill deficit, though real, is often a match-making deficiency in the mass recruitment segment, especially in services industry. Being able to identify candidates with high intent and fit and provide a clearing or pre-screening mechanism can solve a significant part of the woes.

(Pallav Sinha is the Founder and CEO, MeraJob, an online job portal. Visit at ​