Laborers on a production line at the Aqualite footwear factory in Bahadurgarh in the northern Indian state of Haryana in May 2020, after the government eased a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: AFP

India’s premier industry body the Confederation of Indian Industries has warned that the country’s demographic dividend may become a liability in the absence of enough jobs and the required skilled workforce.

In its report titled Harnessing India’s Demographic Dividend for Boosting Growth, the confederation argued that not only was there a shortage of time, but also that the rise in India’s working-age population is necessary, but not sufficient for it to sustain the economic growth.

The country is expected to add another 183 million people to the working-age group of 15-64 years from 2020-50.

“If India does not create enough jobs and its workers are not adequately prepared for those jobs, its demographic dividend may turn into a liability. And education and skill development will be the biggest enablers for reaping this dividend,” the report said.

The report noted that India’s working-age population will start declining in the decade post-2050. So 2020-50 provides India with a short window of opportunity to harness its demographic dividend, it added.

The report said that if India wants to become an economic powerhouse, it needs to provide high-quality school education, relevant higher education and skill development aligned to industry needs.

Confederation Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said: “Children have been away from schools for two years because of the pandemic. The resultant learning losses have added to the already high learning gaps, which existed even before the pandemic.”

He called for urgent measures to fill these learning gaps.

The report noted that in the global context, the proportion of formally skilled workers as a percentage of the total workforce stands at 24% in China, 52% in the US, 68% in UK and 80% in Japan, while it is a paltry 3% in India, according to the report.

“In addition to government initiatives, corporate investment in employee education and training should continue to play a critical role to meet the demand for high-skilled workers. Thus, greater government-industry collaboration holds the key for skilling the burgeoning workforce,” Banerjee said.