Mumbai: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor Thursday said India was staring at a “demographic disaster” as a major section of the country’s youth was not yet equipped to take advantage of the job opportunities that the current century has to offer.
He also made a pitch for policies to provide “right kind of education”, including skill development and vocational training, to youngsters to address the issue. “Sixty five per cent of our population is under the age of 35. The ILO (International Labour Organisation) says in 2030 we will have 116 million people on the job (with the) starting age group of 19 to 23, whereas China will have only 92 million. So, we are going to be, in a sense, in a position to be the dynamic, productive, youthful nation,” Tharoor said. He made the remarks at ‘The Economist Summit 2018’ held here.
“But all of this will make sense, will only be a demographic dividend if we can in fact equip these young people to be able to take advantage of the opportunities the 21st century offers,” he added. Tharoor observed that presently India was not on course to provide the opportunities of the current century — job market-driven education — to its youngsters. The MP said India has “wasted” its last five years when it comes to providing skill development to the youth.
Without naming anyone, the former Union minister said not much has been done in India to enhance the skills of the youth in the country, despite identification of the need. The Parliamentarian also referred to a 2016 World Bank development report, which said that 69 per cent jobs in Indian economy faced threat due to technological advancements. “So, you put all that (issues) together and let’s really start reacting very newly to all of this (the problems). We are looking at a demographic disaster,” he said. He also said there was a need to evolve the country’s education system in order to impart knowledge on teaching newer subjects, such as data analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotics. “These are the things of the 21st century. There is no point in teaching the kids what worked in the 1990s or even the first decade of the 21st century. Because those things are already getting out of date in the world,” he said on the sidelines of the event.
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