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Knowledge, skills would be key to economic growth: Ansari

 

Vice President Hamid Ansari Tuesday said that in the coming decades, the global stature of a country would depend not so much on military prowess as on the strength of its economy, its contribution to existing and emerging branches of science and technology, and its ability to respond to the imperatives of a globalizing world.

 

Knowledge and skills would increasingly become the primary determinants of economic growth and social development, Ansari said, addressing at an event in Maharashtra. He said that skill building will also remain a potent instrument to empower the individual and improve his/her social acceptance or value.

He opined that in our context, the objective of skill development is also to create a workforce empowered with the required and constantly upgraded skills, knowledge and internationally recognized certifications to gain access to quality employment and ensure India’s competitiveness in the global market.

It aims at increasing the productivity and employability of workforce and to enhance its capability to adapt to changing technologies and labour market demands, he said.

The Vice President said that India has the second largest working population in the world after China, and is one of the few countries where the working age population will be far in excess of those dependent on them.

According to the World Bank, this will continue for at least three decades till 2040. This would be a potential source of strength for our economy provided, and I repeat provided, we are able to equip and continuously upgrade the skills of our population in the working age group. We have the potential to emerge as the skill capital of the world.

He said that this 'demographic dividend' emerges because we have the world’s youngest work force with a median age way below that of China, North America and Western Europe. Alongside this window of opportunity for India, the global economy is expected to witness a skilled man power shortage to the extent of around 56 million by 2020.

"Thus, our demographic dividend can be utilised not only to expand the production possibility frontiers but also to meet the skilled manpower requirements in India and the rest of the world," he said.

The Vice President expressed his concern that the quality of employment in organized sector is generally high though the scope of additional employment generation in this sector is rather limited. On the other hand, the informal sector suffers from rampant under-employment, low productivity and even lower wages.

"Given the overwhelming percentage of our people working in the informal sector, skill development and up-gradation becomes all the more important. As the Indian economy continues to transform and mature, large scale sectoral shifts in the working population are inevitable, particularly from agriculture to manufacturing and services sectors. These sectors, however, require significantly different and often specialist skill sets, which require training and skill development," he said.