Human-centric approach is imperative for Global South employment generation: Experts

The Economic Times, November 15, 2023

Inclusive growth is imperative, and only by adopting a human-centric approach can adequate employment generation and skill enhancement be ensured in the Global South, according to Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International. Mehta made these remarks during an international webinar organized by CUTS International, which focused on the importance of skill development in a dynamic labor market. Experts at the event highlighted the challenges faced by developing economies in the Global South, such as a lack of synchronization between workforce skills and industry demands.

Inclusive growth is imperative, and only by adopting a human-centric approach adequate employment generation and skill enhancement in the Global South can be ensured, said Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International, a leading public policy body of India.

Mehta was speaking at an international webinar organised by CUTS International titled Thriving in and from Transition Importance of Skill Development in a Dynamic Labour Market under its project on the Global Compact on Growth and Employment.

Experts at the event opined that unlike developed countries, developing economies in the Global South encounter distinctive challenges, characterised by a lack of synchronisation between the skills possessed by the workforce and the evolving demands of industries.

In this international project, CUTS International has joined forces with Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC) in Brazil and the Development Policy Research Unit (DPRU) in South Africa. This partnership aims to shed light on and tackle the complexities of skills mismatch.

Addressing the challenge of skill mismatch is of paramount importance, carrying far-reaching implications for fostering sustainable economic development in the Global South, with a particular focus on emerging economies.

The session started with Prof. Fiona Tregenna from University of Johannesburg, South Africa, who delved into the nuanced interplay between the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4.0) and employment dynamics.
She underscored the crucial significance of productive capabilities and skill development, centring her discussion on the dual imperatives of advancing technologies and fostering widespread job creation.
The emphasis should be on advocating for a harmonious blend of labour-absorbing and advanced activities, recognising the need for a balanced approach to navigating the evolving landscape of technology and employment. She further mentioned that “Automation in developed countries might be adversely affecting employment in developing countries.”

Professor Carlos Braga from Fundacao Domcabral, Brazil, illuminated the contributing factors to Brazil’s constrained labour productivity growth, encompassing challenges within the educational system, low investment rates, and restricted total factor productivity (TFP) growth.

Within the context of Brazil’s labour market, characterised by a substantial economically active population of 136 million, hurdles manifest in the form of elevated youth unemployment, a prevalence of low-qualification positions, and an urgent requirement for significant improvements in workforce qualification.
Central challenges identified by the panellists involve the generation of high-quality employment opportunities, the swift enhancement of workforce skills, and the alignment of the demand and supply of skilled professionals.

Ambassador (Dr.) Mohan Kumar of O. P. Jindal Global University, Sonepat spoke about the Indian scenario, stressing on the fact that while some nations, such as South Korea, China, and Malaysia, successfully transitioned from agriculture to the manufacturing sector, India has encountered challenges in aligning itself with this shift.

“The root of this issue can be traced back to the Indian education system, where deficiencies in access, quality, and relevance have hindered the smooth progression of the workforce.”

Dr Kumar then highlighted the potential remedy of mutual recognition of degrees, suggesting that such collaboration could enhance the mobility of professionals, thereby improving employment prospects for countries like India.

Simultaneously, this approach would bring value-based education to nations like Australia and the UK. This insight underscores the importance of global cooperation and systemic improvements in education to effectively navigate the challenges posed by a dynamic labour market.

He further added, “Collaboration will be needed not only within countries but across borders. Countries, especially in Africa, should create a community of experts to lead global capital development.”
Rituparna Chakravarthy from TeamLease highlighted the imperative of embracing a democratic approach in extending access to skills throughout the entirety of the country.

Highlighting the significance of developing a professional Indian workforce, she stressed the need for introducing incentives that would encourage both men and women to acquire crucial skill sets.
Kiran Meetarbhan, Director, CUTS International, emphasised the need for collaboration not only within countries but across borders.

Countries, especially in Africa, should create a community of experts to lead global capital development. She mentioned the existence of an overeducated population in Mauritius which still lags the suitable skill set as per the job requirements. ”

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