New Delhi: Skilling India’s youth but in a way that helps them find employment is the biggest challenge facing India, said panellists in a session on skilling at the India Economic Summit organized by the World Economic Forum.

The key is to match the requirements of the society and industry along with the education system, they said, pointing out that more than 250 million young people will enter the Indian workforce by 2025.

Akshay Kothari, managing director (MD), LinkedIn Corp., India, said that although the government’s Skill India programme is a step in the right direction, most of the young who are getting skilled are having a tough time getting an opportunity. “College students are getting degrees but not getting jobs. People are getting skilled but not finding any opportunity. Those who have jobs are getting threatened by automation," he said.

As an organization, LinkedIn has a bird’s eye view of the demand landscape and is in talks with governments to help them train the youth for sectors where there is demand for trained personnel, he added.

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The Indian government’s ambitious Skill India programme aims to train 402 million people by 2022. But the challenge remains of training them in a way that makes it easier for them to find employment.

It is important to know where jobs will be created in the next 15 years, said Shikha Sharma, MD and chief executive officer (CEO), Axis Bank.

“It is important for us to have a blueprint on where the jobs will come in the next 15 years and then marry them up with the education system. Our education system overloads kids in schools. Instead of just teaching them from books, why not encourage them to go for summer training in school across sectors," she said.

Manish Sisodia, deputy chief minister of Delhi, pointed out that the narrow definition of skill in India’s psyche is also a hurdle. “Skill means carpentry or welding. But there are so many more areas for which skills can be imparted like tourism and retail sector jobs," he said.

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“Through our institutes, we are just skilling the young but not linking them to society and its requirements. That element of value addition is not there," he said, adding that there is a need to even train the trainers so that they impart more relevant and on-the-job training.

Sergio Picarelli, regional head, Italy, Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa and India, Adecco group, Switzerland, said, “India is faced with a nice challenge of skilling young people as opposed to challenges being faced by Europe where aging is a problem. Companies need more clarity on what is happening in the labour market. Cost of labour will increase and there will be a need for flexibility in terms of workforce. But besides flexibility, there is a need to grant equal treatment in salary for the flexible workforce," he said.