The skills capital of the world

“If China is like a ‘manufacturing factory’ of the world, India should become the ‘human resource capital’ of the world”. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Skill India’ Mission as part of the government’s “war against poverty”. Technology is at the core of this plan and should provide the tools and contents for “dynamic training in skills”.

In a recent post, I was mentioning another initiative in India that aims at bringing a low-cost, digital learning solution to thousands of low-income schools. “Skills India” lies at the other end of the spectrum, where jobs need to be created and sustained for the population at large.

India, skills capital of the world

India, skills capital of the world

Numbers give vertigo. In seven years, the objective is to train 400 M. people and this should happen mainly through on-line training. Learning yoga, creating a small business, getting basic IT skills will all come together as training should be part of everyday’s life. “Education is the answer” seems too often a dream shared by NGOs and inspirational leaders. This time it is the core of a national strategy and a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of edtech solutions.

I had a chance to visit some of the leading education startups in India. Wheebox, Talentedge, Peoplestrong are all addressing key challenges to combine technology with a people-centric approach. Harness, a UK based company created by Indian entrepreneurs and part of the Open Education Challenge provides innovative solutions to combine the best of class-room learning and elearning solutions. These solutions are ready to use in Europe also.

Which lessons can be learnt? India like Europe is used to promoting top down initiative. The recent eskills for Europe report concluded that “National governments should offer access to high quality information and career-support services for young people.” But providing advice is not the same than voluntarily advocating for flexible online training. At the same time, India will promote short online training targeting “the common man”.

Which path will work best? There is still an open debate in Europe regarding the future of online training. Its cost-effectiveness is widely questionned, essentially by face to face trainers… It just seems as if Europe was ready to lose another battle for employment! and this won’t be because we lack good and innovative startups.

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