Addressing India’s employability crisis

Creative skill education can help generate interest-based job opportunities 

February 17, 2022 12:01 pm | Updated 12:10 pm IST

Educational institutions must motivate students to nurture their creative talents.

Educational institutions must motivate students to nurture their creative talents. | Photo Credit: Freepik

India is often described as a country of paradoxes and conundrums, and nowhere else is this more visible than in the nation’s workforce and job market. On one hand, it has the power of human capital because more than 50% of India’s population is below the age of 25. On the other hand, we are staring at an employability crisis. According to the World Economic Forum, of the 13 million people who join India’s workforce each year, only one in four Management professionals, one in five engineers, and one in 10 graduates are employable. How can we alleviate this problem and fully leverage the power of our human capital?

The answer may lie in altering perceptions about non-conventional jobs stemming from creative fields. Traditionally, there has been an affinity for academic streams and careers in Engineering, Medicine, Accounts, MBA, and so on. However, owing to rapid technological advances, the demand for unconventional, creative opportunities is increasing and enabling creative individuals to convert their passion and interests into fulfilling careers like Product Design and Management, Game Art and Design, Interior Design, Advertising, Content Management, Hospitality, Tourism, Photography and so on.

What is skill?

The current global trend of thought is that the definition of skill has to change to reflect the challenges driven by globalisation and a faster rate of technological developments. Skills no longer refer to just technical abilities; they have come to encompass a broader canvas where attributes such as curiosity, imagination, and resilience, creative expression, and design thinking are equally valued. This is in tandem with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) project’s report, The Future of Education and Skills 2030. According to this, to prepare a future-ready workforce, people must think creatively and work towards developing new products and services, jobs, and processes and methods. Hence, India’s higher education programmes and curricula should include a diversity of subjects that can open up untapped avenues.

Fields such as Design present some of the most exciting opportunities for creative skill-based careers. As more people go online, the need for marketers to hire graphic and web designers will soar. Similarly, Digital Product Design is another area where the need for skilled professionals is increasing rapidly, thanks to the explosion in web and mobile applications. Jobs for those who understand and excel at creating seamless user interface (UI), user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) will will also grow, as new technologies and services enter the market.

Visual Communication and Packaging Design: As manufacturing gets a push, the need for people who can convey ideas and information in an appealing and lucid way will be felt. In fact, a report by the India Design Council titled The Future of Design Education in India estimated that the market potential for the graphic, communication and packaging design industry exceeds ₹5,500 crores; and only a fraction is currently being tapped.

Gaming: India is a ripe market for the gaming industry because of its high rate of Internet penetration and young population. The Boston Consulting Group and Sequoia’s research on India’s mobile gaming sector revealed that India has close to 300 million mobile game players and that the market is currently estimated at a staggering $1.8-billion. Given that there are currently only a little over 15,000 people employed in the Indian game development industry, the potential for employment is high. From game art designers to animators and game testers, the opportunities in this field are aplenty.

In order to actualise the potential of these opportunities, India’s universities will have to play a significant role. Educators must help learners to cultivate certain intangible skills such as Emotional Intelligence, Adaptability, Creative Expression, Design Thinking and Effective Communication. This can be done through practical and experiential learning by means of projects, apprenticeships and mentorship programmes. Educational institutions will have to adopt a more holistic and open learning environment that supports and motivates each student to nurture their creative talents allowing them to come up with unique solutions to 21st century problems.

The writer is Managing Partner, École Intuit Lab New Delhi and Co-founder, JS Institute of Design

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