By ANUBHUTI VISHNOI
World Economic Forum’s Saadia Zahidi says India can rise from its 103rd rank in the Global Human Capital Index, as it has a good base of skilled employees.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Human Capital Index 2017 has ranked India 103rd among a list of 130 countries, behind other South Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal, and just ahead of Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Saadia Zahidi, head of education, gender and work at the World Economic Forum, tells Deputy Editor Anubhuti Vishnoi that India needs to widen access to both formal basic and higher education systems. Excerpts from the e-mail interview:
Why is one of the biggest developing nations at the bottom of the ladder across every grouping from G20 to BRICS and even in South Asia?
Although India’s current educational attainment rate has improved markedly over past generations, its youth literacy rate is still only 89 per cent, well behind the rates of other leading emerging markets.
India also ranks poorly on labour force participation, due in part to one of the world’s largest employment gender gaps.
Does this report imply that India has not been working hard enough on its ‘demographic dividend’, and may be saddled with a huge young population without employment opportunities?
India is performing well on creating a relatively small high-skilled workforce, but this is dwarfed by the overall size of its young population. Spreading the opportunity for skilled work to a broader set of young people could vastly improve their prospects.
Is this report indicative of a failure of India’s education system in terms of translating education attainment to productive employment?
The report suggests that broad-based formal education has not yet reached the full cohort of young people, and university-level education is still limited to only a quarter of the current cohort of university-age young people. There needs to be wider access to both formal basic and higher education systems, as well as the reskilling and upskilling opportunities available to the current workforce.
There is a glimmer of hope since India is doing better on the ‘know-how’ parameter. Is the performance in this parameter enough to push more of the country’s human capital towards development?
India has solid rankings on economic complexity and the availability of skilled employees, suggesting that there is a good base from which to expand the benefits of higher-skilled, complex and often more interesting work across the population.