For decades, India’s skilled professionals have preferred emigrating to the West in search of better jobs, lucrative salaries and higher standards of living. Today’s millennials are keen to follow the same course.
Nearly four decades back, the idea of individuals and professionals migrating to different places worldwide in pursuit of lucrative careers and world-class education was a massive achievement for Indians. This was primarily because India simply did not have the professional prospects that other countries offered. However, many professionals chose to return to their country in the new millennium with an intention to create business opportunities, become contributors to capital inflows in the country and accelerate the Indian economy to introduce it to the global market.
Today, India is just a decade away from changing its status into a developed and superpower nation, but unfortunately, history is repeating itself. This time, millennials are leaving the country not for the dearth of jobs on their domestic shores, but in search of a better standard of living and quality of life, higher salaries, access to advanced technology and more stable political conditions across international borders—to Canada, Australia, European countries and more. This rising exodus of Indian professionals is definitely benefitting the host countries but it is becoming a growing cause for concern for the economic health of India.
When Indian expatriates migrate abroad in search of greener pastures, the country ends up losing its major skilled workforce. In the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technology has proven to be both a disruptor and a creator of employment in India, why is the country failing to hold back its talented and skilled individuals from moving abroad for good?
Higher education is one of the major reasons for permanent immigration. Considering the recent scenario of sky-rocketing cut-offs for admissions reaching close to 100% in top Indian universities, many students end up compromising on their dream of occupying a seat in any of the prestigious Indian universities. This urges them to explore the scope of higher education abroad and secure a place in good universities as they have an advantage over students from other countries in terms of skills and knowledge. Considering the global exposure and access to high-quality life and facilities, not only do the students become reluctant to return home, even the country’s skilled workforce decides to step out to match pace with their peers who are doing well abroad.
At present, a lot of educational institutions in the country are giving importance to textbook education and theoretical learning which fails to equip students with skills that will make them job-ready. This ends up creating a wide gap between industry requirements and academic knowledge. As per the latest India Skill Report, only 47% of students coming out of educational institutions in India are employable. This clearly points to the need for broadened access to both formal, basic and higher education systems, as well as investing more on reskilling and upskilling of the students and the present workforce so that they skip the idea of stepping out of the country.
Human capital is precious for the growth of any developing nation. It can be referred to as people equipped with the knowledge and skill sets suitable for contributing towards economic value. But people are not born with the same skill set or knowledge. They usually acquire it through education and skilling which directs us to the need for constant upskilling of India’s existing workforce. This will eventually make them eligible for enticing professional opportunities with higher earnings within the country, thereby dropping their urge for migration.
As the boundaries between different domains are fast blurring, students cannot be restricted to a single-stream of knowledge. Emphasis should be given on industry-academia partnerships, as they keep educational institutes in tune with changing industry requirements and drive them to introduce programmes that respond directly to their demands. On the other hand, companies can also help their employees to keep themselves updated with the right knowledge and skills by approaching specialised training and skilling organisations as consultants. Such specialised consulting organisations help in streamlining the process of training and development. They leverage the latest technology tools and the expertise of their experienced, qualified and certified trainers, and subject matter experts to help employees transform their abilities and levels of productivity. They conduct highly focused and industry-relevant courses, programmes and workshops after garnering a clear understanding of the organisational goals, as well as values and ethos. This helps employees adapt to the learning environment that will offer them increasing levels of challenge and growth over time.
While India is putting its best foot forward to curb brain drain by prioritising skill development through its National Skill Development Mission aiming to train approximately 400 million people across the country by 2022, stopping the movement completely won’t be possible. The key is to simply emphasise evolving skills in the workforce through the right training programmes that will help in strengthening the country’s human capital. With better human capital presence, India will indeed reach new levels of inclusive growth and sustainable development.
The author is founder & CEO, Safeducate Learning, a supply chain skilling organisation which trains over 50,000 people each year across over