#BuildingTomorrow: The future workforce of India

By Aditya Mishra | September 26, 2020

Among the trillion-dollar economies in the world, India is the fifth-largest ahead of the United Kingdom and France. Majority of our workforce is in agriculture which is low in productivity in its current state of affairs. Hence, our per capita income is low among the top economies in the world, even after adjusting the purchasing power parity. We are growing fast and hence, the indicators of our development such as per capita income and human development index will continue to improve through the next 10 years. How should our workforce look in 2030?

What’s our context?

As we have been making progress as a nation, the contribution of services in our economy has been steadily rising, now nearly 60% employing about 30% of its workforce. Information technology and business process management sector have been at the forefront of the export of services. We also see our manufacturing sector increasing its exports to countries around the world.
Our businesses face challenges while competing against their global peers; the government is continually making amends to its thinking and policies to help the businesses grow and hence, the economy. At the same time, there are socio-economic changes and technological advancements which are making the talent market as well as the economy much more dynamic than ever before.
Growth rates of the developed economies have been falling and their population has been ageing. They are experiencing a shortage of skilled manpower in multiple areas and accordingly, are transforming their strategic priorities. As a result of these changes, aspirations and ambitions of the people in the workforce are evolving and the goals of the entrepreneurs are soaring high.
Most often, the policies and strategies of the government have been found wanting in facilitating job creation and demand growth in our domestic markets as well as the export markets. Through the next decade, this situation is likely to continue. What can businesses do? And what can individuals in the talent market do to deal with these realities?

Balance technology with human capital

In the last decade, technological developments are finding applications in a variety of tasks across industry sectors. Jobs performed by human beings are either being replaced completely or augmented by technology tools. This has become imperative for enterprises for greater efficiency and innovation in their work processes so that they can stay relevant. Similarly, employees have to learn new skills and master usage of new tools so that they can match the expectations of the industry.
Organisations have to retrain employees continually so that they can leverage the potential of their existing human capital. It is not very easy to build a workforce that understands and appreciates the values, beliefs and culture of the organisation. Loyal employees who relate to the purpose of the organisation and the leaders tend to deliver a greater output and a compelling impact on the customers they serve. Hence, leaders tend to put a lot of emphasis in repurposing their workforce for the evolving situations in the world of work.
Retraining is valuable, yet not adequate. Organisations need to harness their workforce by hiring experts and specialists for the skills, knowledge and experience they bring to the table. Some of these roles can be for a fixed period until an outcome is achieved or a project is completed. Similarly, some roles could be strategically outsourced because those roles are essential but not delivering on the strategic priorities of the enterprise.
Further, organisations have to review their structure and systems from time to time so that they can right-size themselves. As a result of this exercise, one may have to redistribute their workforce and lay off some of them. All these changes need to be driven by the top leaders in the company and are essential for sustainability.

Flexibility is essential

The times we live in are uncertain and volatile. Hence, businesses and people alike are opting for a greater amount of flexibility in their approach. Employer-employee relationships are getting redefined in favour of short and intense bursts rather than focusing hugely on long term goals. Tenure per role is coming down and outcomes expected of each role are now in shorter periods.
This approach leads to greater anxiety to achieve the results and hence, impacts the mental health of the workers and the group dynamics at the workplace. It poses a new set of challenges for team leaders and managers to motivate their teams and direct them to specific goals.
Interesting times ahead – we have to be agile!