Express IT Awards: Adaptive, flexible, resilient workforce needed, says Amitabh Kant

Published On: 08, Dec 2017 | Source:

Even as advances in technology unleash transformative changes in industry, taking away traditional jobs, India needs to address the challenge of job losses by creating flexible, resilient and adaptive workforces, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Thursday. Speaking at the fifth Express IT Awards, Kant noted that robots and artificial intelligence were bringing benefits by improving productivity and lowering costs. “India must embrace technology and we must restructure the education system to ensure we create enough new-age jobs,” Kant said. He said AI would replace rather than displace jobs.
“Many millions of jobs, especially repetitive ones, are in grave danger of being eliminated. Instead of traditional employees, there would be pools of talented freelancers who need to be more flexible and modern and embrace an open lifestyle. This would suit the millennials who care less about job security and more about flexibility and self-determination,” Kant observed.

He said that India’s education system needs to be re-thought with a focus on evolved learning and skill development, which was needed on a massive scale. He felt public-private partnerships should be encouraged to stimulate investment in necessary infrastructure and to incentivise the private sector to re-skill workforces to match the demands of the workplace.
A strong focus on training for new job definitions was called for, Kant said. “We need to embrace tech to enable India for a quantum jump,” he said. The Atal Innovation Mission was focusing on this through 1,500 schools and the number was expected to rise to 2,500 schools soon, he said.

Kant said that today’s tech revolution was different from the industrial revolution. “However, jobs will not entirely vanish, they will be redefined,” he said.

He pointed out the that the best Indian IT companies would not be able to match the efficiency of robots and AI. However, the quality of living would improve and it would also alleviate the stress of humans from repetitive jobs. “The penetration of the internet in rural areas would facilitate the entry of women into the labour market,” he said.
Textiles, food processing, and gems and jewellery are the sectors that could continue to need labour-intensive technology. Each state should take a call based on its core competence, he explained.

Sunil Jain, managing editor, Financial Express, observed innovations such as the ones that the Express Awards were honouring had the ability to increase productivity dramatically and help India achieve faster growth even at current levels of savings and investments.