India's workforce—at the cusp of transformation
India will house the world's largest workforce by 2027, with 1 billion people aged between 15 and 64 years. Clearly, concerted efforts and innovative interventions are needed to ensure these workers are able to access and afford the skills training required for better-paying jobs. Without that, many workers face the risk of falling behind or dropping off the radar altogether.
Our research focuses on five occupation groups—construction workers, handypersons, retail salespersons, hospitality staff and microentrepreneurs. They're part of the low-skills group, which accounts for 70 percent of jobs and a significant portion of India's GDP. We've delved into how digital platforms and emerging technologies could transform their work profiles and have created a persona of their modern avatars in 2025. For instance, the new-age retail salesperson will use VR headsets. The digital electrician will be adept with sensors and smart devices. The modern microentrepreneur will harness new financial technologies.
Solving India's skilling puzzle
India's skilling challenges are complex and require an innovative and collaborative approach. A successful training and upskilling ecosystem must meet the diverse and context-specific learning needs of workers of all ages, and education and digital literacy levels. We propose a holistic mix of skills that must be imparted on a sustained basis, in line with a market-relevant incentive structure. We have captured the type of skills that are key to the five focused occupation groups below and institutions that can effectively deliver these programs.