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India plans to send youth to be trained in Japan

New Delhi set to ink pact to send 100,000 over 3 years as part of its Skill India campaign

NEW DELHI -- India is expected to sign an agreement with Tokyo this week to send 100,000 youth over for training, as the country tries to meet its own aim of upgrading the skills of 400 million by 2022. 

During his Oct. 16-18 visit to Japan, Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan is expected to sign a memorandum of cooperation with Tokyo on a technical intern training program. Under the agreement, 100,000 Indian youth will be sent to Japan in the next three years to undergo technical training, the cost of which will be borne by Tokyo. These youth will be chosen through a transparent selection mechanism and will need  basic knowledge of Japanese language.

Skill India, a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, launched in July 2015 and aims to train 400 million people by 2022. (Photo by Press Information Bureau).

Pradhan said that "more than 50,000 of them" could find jobs in Tokyo after training. He added: "After these workers return, we will have the skilled manpower of the Japanese standard which will help improve national productivity."

Over the next decade, India is predicted to have surplus manpower of 40 million to 50 million. In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ambitious "Skill India" campaign to train 400 million with this aim: "If China is today known as the manufacturing factory of the world, India can become the global human resource capital," he said then.

The World Bank said in June that only 2.3% of the total workforce in India has undergone formal training, compared with 68% in the U.K., 75% in Germany, 52% in the U.S., 80% in Japan, and 96% in South Korea. 

In signing this agreement, Japan also stands to gain as it faces an ageing population. Takashi Watanabe, executive vice president and director of Pasona Inc., one of the top human resources companies in Japan, recently said that Japan is already facing scarcity of talent, especially engineers in information technology. 

"Having continuous decline in working-age population for years, Japan is on the edge of losing industrial competitiveness in the world," he said, adding the "only option" is to invite young talent to Japan from Asian countries, such as India.

On the other hand, Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said India is focusing on upgrading the skills of its workforce within the country and "also skilling its workforce to address the needs of other countries."

On Sept. 12, India signed a memorandum of understanding with Belarus during the state visit of President Alexander Lukashenko to cooperate in the field of vocational education, training and skill development. 

The bilateral cooperation will include vocational education services for Indian citizens in the field of construction, electric-power production and distribution, manufacturing, trade, auto services and household goods repair and maintenance, transport, communication, hotels and restaurants, among others.

On Oct. 11, Modi's cabinet approved two major World Bank-supported programs worth 66.55 billion rupees ($1.03 billion) to help the country reach its target.  

One of them is the 44.55 billion-rupee "Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion" scheme that includes a loan of 33 billion rupees from the World Bank. The other one is "Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancement," a 22 billion-rupee program with half of the outlay as loan support from the World Bank.  

Both are "outcome focused schemes marking a shift in government's implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results," an official statement said last week. 

India's potential workforce is 885 million people now, according to a report by accounting firm Deloitte. It said that this number would jump to 1.08 billion in two decades and remain above 1 billion for half a century.

"These new workers will be much better trained and educated than the existing Indian workforce, and there will be rising economic potential coming alongside that, thanks to an increased share of women in the workforce, as well as an increased ability and interest in working for longer," the report said.

For India to become the world's largest provider of skilled workforce, Modi said there was a need to map manpower requirements, not just in India, but globally as well. He called for constant updating of training programs and courses to keep up with technology.

Nikkei staff writer Yuji Kuronuma in New Delhi contributed to this report

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