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Majority of India’s workforce trapped in informal economy

According to the latest NCAER report, India has around 468 million people in its workforce with close to 92% working in the informal sector. The same report also estimates that almost 1.25 million new workers are projected to join this workforce “every month” through 2022. Unless this workforce is equipped with skills and pulled out of the informal economy, the Indian Economy as a whole and its emerging “demographic dividend” is at stake.

What is a demographic dividend? 

Between 2020 and 2040, the number of Indians who belong to the working age will begin to outnumber those who are dependent — providing a unique moment to improve India’s social and economic outcomes and accelerate its economic growth. 

To leverage this dividend, there is a need to ensure that a higher number of workers are productively employed and suitably skilled, not just in metropolitan cities but across India. Now, where does Metaverse fit into this narrative and could it be the answer to universalizing skilling in India?

What is Metaverse?

Whether people know it or not, they may have already experienced what Metaverse has to offer. If someone has played an immersive online game or gone on a virtual tour of a city, they have already been inducted into the world of Metaverse. By combining the powers of social networking, AI, AR and VR – Metaverse offers endless possibilities to imagine a newer and equal society.  

Of course, those in metropolitan cities have access to this technology but what are the different ways in which AR and VR can uplift and empower the poorest sections in our rural hinterlands?

Immersive Technology: The Key to Improve Skilling in India?

Most of the rural workforce is engaged in labour jobs that are generationally inherited. But it is no longer feasible for India’s economy to be a labour-centred one if the country has to fully realise and leverage its demographic dividend. It is clear that there is a need to build an economy of creators and the only way to do this is by upskilling our blue-collar workforce and equipping them with skills for the future.

This is where technologies like AR and VR come in. By leveraging the immersive nature of Metaverse, young workers in rural India can now get a virtual tour of an automobile shop floor or a manufacturing plant. Instead of tilling on the land, they can learn how to use agricultural technology to support their work. Governments and MNCs do not need to allocate diminishing funds towards building hi-tech training programs or paying for transportation. Instead, all they need to do is procure minimal and lean infrastructure to support AR and VR technologies to give workers a truly immersive experience where they can train and pick up crucial real world and practical skills.

Companies who have an increasing need of an upskilled workforce should design virtual courses and put them up on websites as open content. Particularly, sectors like manufacturing, aviation and technical engineering stand to benefit from offering this mode of learning. Automobile companies can design courses on car engines. FMCG companies can design courses on managing supply chain in factories. Power companies could design a course on fixing solar energy panels. Marketing companies could train workers on how to create social media content and run websites. The intersection of benefits between different MNCs will generate a lot of open-source content that will unwittingly address the different economic interests of each worker and give them a place in the digital economy. Metaverse has the potential to universalize or democratize skilling in India. A massive open skilling initiative launched by Metaverse (formerly Facebook) in India recently. Approximately 10 million students and skill levels in schools from grade 6-12 will be benefited.

Metaverse has the potential to pull our workforce out of the informal sector and offer them more lucrative and technically-proficient jobs. By offering workers a customizable range of skills that they can easily pick up, there can be a hope to maximise the impact of our demographic dividend and leapfrog India into becoming a strong player in the global and digital economy. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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