Need for educating the blue collared workforce

When it comes to its workforce, India is a study in contradiction. Touted as the talent capital of the world, it has supplied a significant share of the professional workforce that laid the foundation of the global digital revolution. Some of the top business leaders in the world, particularly in the tech domain, hail from the country.

And yet, of India’s estimated 500 million working adults, nearly two-thirds (71%) don’t have any formal education beyond primary schooling, dropping out for reasons ranging from a lack of access to financial issues and family commitments. This disparity has far-reaching consequences.

The Need for Adult Education in India

It is no secret that the lack of higher-level education amongst adults is one of the main causes of high unemployment and underemployment rates. This correlation is plain to see in India. As recently as 2018, 81% of the country’s workforce was employed in the informal sector. When the number of contractual workers in the formal sector is also taken into account, the proportion of informal workers in India’s total working population in India increases to 92%.

Why? Because gaps in their education prevent them from taking up higher-paying jobs that require more skills and qualifications. On the other hand, automation and AI are taking over conventionally labour-intensive and repetitive manual tasks across industries, leaving fewer low-value jobs available to the blue/grey-collar workforce. This results in a cycle of poverty and inequality epitomized by a perpetual lack of access to critical services (such as health insurance, loans and financing, pensions, etc.) and lower quality of life.

But to think that low levels of adult education only affect the individual is naive – for it also hampers economic growth by preventing businesses from accessing a larger pool of talent and skillsets. A recent NASSCOM-Zinnov report projects that, by 2026, India could be facing a shortage of 14 to 16 lakh professionals in the tech domain while Wheebox's India Skills Report 2022 estimates that 75% of organizations are currently struggling with industry- wide skill gaps.

For a country seeking to be a digital-first superpower, these alarming stats highlight why providing opportunities for blue/grey-collar workers to return to learning and upgrade their skills is critical for its economy and business ecosystem.

Restarting Education and learning for India's blue/grey-collar workforce

The need for worker education is not new. What is new, however, are the means and methods through which it can be delivered.

Thanks to advances in technology, businesses now have access to a wide range of e-learning platforms and tools that can be used to provide employees with on-the-job training as well as upskill or reskill them for future roles. They can also partner with educational platforms to offer education and learning as a benefit to their workforce; businesses such as are already collaborating with leading educational platforms to provide learning and upskilling opportunities to their blue and gray collar workers.

Conducting regular rewards & Recognition initiatives can also motivate workers to participate in such programs. Many of these platforms come equipped with features such as

learning analytics and assessment tools that help identify areas of improvement and measure employee progress over time – making it easier than ever before for companies to invest in their workforce and see tangible ROI from doing so.

Why Businesses Must Prioritize the Education of its Blue/Grey-collar Workforce

This focus on worker education can help organizations develop a robust talent pipeline of skilled employees at the same time as they are transitioning to tech-driven, automation-led processes. By empowering their blue/grey-collar workforce to stay on top of the latest industry trends and technologies, organizations can help their workers stay relevant in the rapidly changing business ecosystem.

What’s more, research has shown that educated workers are often more productive and have higher job satisfaction levels than those who are not – resulting in lower attrition rates for businesses. Their available pool of candidates also increases significantly, while long-standing inequities and biases within internal processes such recruitment and promotions are also addressed. Companies that invest in employee education also send out a strong signal to potential recruits about their commitment to employee development, making it easier for them to attract top talent.

There is a strong business case to be made for the education of India’s blue/grey-collar workforce. Not only does this provide opportunities for workers to upgrade their skills and improve their employability but it also helps businesses develop a pipeline of skilled talent while reducing attrition rates. With the right mix of online and offline training programs, companies can provide employees with the resources they need to stay relevant in an ever-changing business ecosystem – making worker education a win-win proposition for all parties involved.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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