Building skills that build the nation

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Amit Aggarwal

Senior Vice President, Training

January 9, 2015 - A great test is looming for the world's third largest economy: By 2022, India will need to successfully skill nearly a half-billion people for employment (Source: NSDC). Working together, public and private leaders and policymakers from across the country are trying to solve for this massive challenge. Chief among their concerns: That India's so-called "demographic dividend" — in the form of abundance of young, able-bodied (and minded) citizens — will not translate into growth, but instead become a drag on it.

The underlying threat is a growing "skills" gap between what India's education system is preparing graduates to do, and what many of the country's largest employers expect of job candidates. Cashing in on the dividend requires Indians to figure a way to close this gap and see to it that the country's next generations of workers are adequately prepared for the needs of a tomorrow's global economy.

Genpact is widely known to be a pioneer in the Business Process Management industry. This industry was one of a few to hire on a large scale over the last decade and a half, radically changing the landscape of India's job markets in the process. Graduates from different streams were then able to get jobs and be part of The Great Indian Dream of upward mobility. The BPO/BPM industry has grown over time to where today its largest players continue to be major job creators.

Despite such positive developments, the skill gap and its impact on a company's ability to find suitably qualified talent, remains a serious challenge for industries across India. Being a large and growing organization that takes pride in its training capability, this year Genpact decided to partner with NASSCOM to leverage this capability to contribute to skill development at a national level. As an organization that played a vital role in nurturing and growing India's New Economy, it seemed only natural to Genpact to want to give back to the nation gave so much talent to it.

The launch of the ‘Reach Higher’ program aims to contribute to meeting the Government of India’s aspiration to train 500 million people by 2022. To create a robust, sustained and national-level plan, Genpact recently partnered with the IT-ITeS Sector Skills Council at NASSCOM and the NASSCOM Foundation, and announced one of India’s largest skill-building programs. The partnership is aligned to Genpact’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts, which primarily aim to generate sustainable impact through continuous training and employability for the community at large. This program is a step towards creating a "talent pipeline" for the industry at large. Participating companies will gain access to a ready pool of employable talent who are trained in specific skills. This is a true win-win for all – and could quite well prove to be the lever needed close to the persisting skill gap, and employment challenges it creates.

This Reach Higher model, done correctly, can be massively scaled across skills companies need; it can contribute significantly to meeting the job-creation challenge in India, thus positively impact the country's entire employment ecosystem. In its first year, Genpact has identified certain critical skills like F&A, Banking, Insurance and Analytics, and now plans to extend this program to even non-BPM industries. This national level skill-building program is being driven in partnership with leading vocational training companies such as NIIT and Global Talent Track (GTT). The aim: Train aspirants with specialized skills in finance and accounting; and customer service for the high tech, banking, and insurance industries.

The program will also prepare trainees in other job-related essentials such as English communication, soft skills and computer literacy. The demographic agenda is laser focused on benefiting the 18-to-30-year-old segment of India's population, and it will be driven through both on-campus and off-campus models across multiple cities. The plan is to target 1200 students on campuses across West Bengal, Odisha Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Skilling efforts will focus on areas such as F&A, Banking, Insurance and Analytics.

This is only the beginning, however. Genpact is committed to scaling up this program in partnership with Nasscom, and with the guidance of the Skill Development Council. Over the next 5 years, Genpact, alone, expects to skill about 25,000 people through these programs. Those are training efforts that will translate into jobs, and those jobs into the beginning of a virtuous cycle of employment opportunity and economic growth through the decade ahead.