Indians don’t need to worry about artificial intelligence just yet: Rajiv Pratap Rudy

Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajiv Pratap Rudy. Source: PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration has created a new Ministry for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, via which it has introduced several schemes to train the country’s workforce. The ministry’s top concern: high unemployment.

The ministry’s chief Rajiv Pratap Rudy spoke to ThePrint Associate Editor Kumar Anshuman about the challenges facing India’s job markets, as well as the government’s efforts to raise employment in the country.

Edited excerpts:

Q. The world is talking about artificial intelligence and how it is supposed to eat into jobs globally. How is India prepared to handle that?

India is at a different stage of development. Artificial intelligence is something the world is talking about. But India will be hit only subsequently. First, it will impact overall growth in other countries. The way they will respond to it will give us a fair idea. By that time, we will be ready to respond to the destruction in the labour market caused by artificial intelligence.

Q. There has been a fall in employment since demonetisation, especially in the small and medium businesses sectors…

On the contrary, there is a high demand for jobs at the entry-level, and supply is being outstripped. Our focus and challenge is to bridge the demand-supply gap at the entry-level, which offers huge potential.

Q. The manufacturing industry offers a variety of jobs at the entry-level. But the sector’s downturn poses a challenge for the skilled and semi-skilled labour force…

India is a service-driven economy. More than 50 percent of employment comes from the service sector. There is a huge requirement of skilled labour in the service sector, which my ministry is focusing on. The contribution of manufacturing to GDP is only around 20 per cent. However, [this share] has picked up with the efforts of Make in India and given the recent surge in FDI (foreign direct investment). I hope there will be more jobs in the manufacturing sector ahead.

Q. Your ministry’s data say more than 1.17 crore people have received skill training in the last three years. Is there any data to suggest how many of them were employed?

My job is to train people to improve employability, and not to provide employment. Having said that, with a growing economy the growth in demand is perceptible. For example, under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), as of July 6, 30.67 lakh candidates have been trained or are undergoing training across the country.

Under PMKVY 2015-16, it was not mandatory for the NSDC’s training partners to report employment data. However, under PMKVY 2016-20, which started on October 2, 2016, placement tracking is mandatory. So far, a total of 2.9 lakh candidates have been provided offers for placements. The number will rise.

Q. There is also lot of talk about entrepreneurship in the government…

The nature of jobs in India is changing. There are five lakhs jobs for drivers from Ola and Uber that were created in the recent past. They are all individual entrepreneurs. Ola and Uber have created their jobs through a technology platform. They may not add to the [number of] overall jobs in the country, but five lakh livelihoods have been created.

As a ministry, our focus is also on entrepreneurship because we see the requirements for jobs changing very fast and there is a need to develop micro-level entrepreneurship. In the coming five years, we plan to create around 30,000 startups under my ministry alone.

Q. The ITIs, which have been at the forefront of providing entry-level skill training, are following old training programs that may not be relevant in today’s market…

We have rationalized the number of courses being offered at ITIs and brought it down. Earlier there were 126 courses, which have been reduced to 86.
Of the 86 courses being offered today, 34 are new courses. These are courses based on emerging trends such as mechatronics, soil health card and others.

1 COMMENT

  1. Automation will replace old jobs and make way for new jobs. Like in the early 20th century, a large number of old manufacturing job role made way to new job roles in the IT industry, including BPO jobs among others. To make full use of the opportunity, skill development is extremely important

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