Higher Education to Play a Pivotal Role in Bridging India’s Skill Gap: IBM Study

New Update

IBM announced a study conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) in cooperation with the Economist Intelligence Unit, to evaluate India’s growing skills challenge and proposed recommendations to bridge the gap. Addressing the looming talent shortage will be instrumental to prepare India for the competitive global economy. A majority of Indian executives surveyed in the study said that the quality and quantity of skills in the Indian workforce are at least comparable to those of other countries, and many reported them to be superior. However, only 40 percent indicated new employees recruited in local labor markets have the requisite job skills.


The IBM study, ‘Upskilling India’ derives insights from a survey of academics, corporate-recruiters, and emerging education leaders in India. In addition, the study also analyzed results of recent surveys of startup entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and corporate executives.

The Indian economy has shown enormous growth potential and as a result, entrepreneurship in India has grown rapidly after 2010. However, the looming skill gap is a major roadblock for India’s growth. The Indian executives surveyed highlighted that improved access to higher-quality skills will boost productivity and efficiency throughout the economy. The required skills, however, are changing as rapidly as industries and the economy itself. New digital technologies are disrupting the business landscape are largely impacting how industries are structured and economic activity occurs. Traditional value chains are becoming increasingly fragmented, and new types of business ecosystems are rapidly forming and evolving.

The Indian executives surveyed believe that much of the nation’s current higher education system fails to meet the needs of students, industry and society. 61 percent of India’s surveyed educators indicate that the higher education system is unable to respond to changing societal needs. New technologies, ever- changing skills requirements and outdated curricula are challenging India’s higher education system in its efforts to equip graduates with job-ready skills. Between 2010 and 2030, India’s working population is expected to expand from 750 million to almost one billion. Without adequate education and training, such population growth poses increased risk of the emergence of a growing class of the under or unemployed who are unable to achieve the Indian middleclass dream. In an effort to align India’s educational activities with industry imperatives and demands, the study recommends a transformation of higher education system.

Key recommendations of the study :

Develop more practical, applied, experience-based education . Rethink higher education curricula by identifying opportunities to infuse experience-based and real-world learning experiences and embracing new teaching technologies and techniques. Higher education institutions should build alliances with industry partners, share learning and refine strategies.

Embrace technologies that improve educational access, experiences, and outcomes. Assess current capabilities and requirements, experiment with using new technologies and extend capabilities through ecosystem partners.

Build deeper relationships with ecosystem partners. Identify the right partners from academia, industry and the public sector and empower an orchestrator. Define and reach consensus with key partners around a common vision for the education ecosystem, with clearly defined commitments from all partners. Formalize and design for sustainability.

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