25/07/2016 2:02 PM IST | Updated 26/07/2016 12:49 PM IST

Building IT Skills In Our Youth Can Do Wonders For India

Vivek Sharma

"We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future." These words of Franklin D. Roosevelt gain even more resonance on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day, which is observed on 15 July for the purpose of raising awareness on the importance of skills acquisition and development in young people.

The youth are a determining factor in social change, economic development and technological innovation. They are at the centre of economic and political progress. More than 50% of India's current population is below the age of 25; over 65% is below the age of 35 years. What does this truly imply? How can young people help themselves and the nation? Both practically and professionally? In 2015, our Prime Minister recognized the need to capitalize on India's demographic dividend, setting a target of skilling 40.2 crore people by 2022, under the new National Policy for Skill Development, better known as the Skill India initiative.

Computer engineers, system analysts, computer scientists, programmers and security professionals will be worth their weight in gold.

When diving deeper into this, we must look at one key sector which has been the driving force in putting India in the top tier globally. The three-decade-old IT-BPO industry has had a great impact on the Indian economy and society -- more than any other sector, and within a much shorter time frame. According to a NASSCOM report, by 2020 the IT-BPO industry is expected to account for 10% of India's GDP and 14% of the total services sector revenues. It is projected to employ as many as 30 million people, directly and indirectly.

But we need skilled people. India's chief information officers (CIOs) are widely regarded to be on par with their global counterparts in terms of innovation, efficiency and security. They are championing a revolutionary digital growth era that is characterized by disruptive technologies. As we surge forward with initiatives like Digital India, the nation will need highly skilled information technology professionals for this insatiable demand. The information technology sector being an enabler, it affects the entire economy across industries and a lack of skilled labour can have a domino effect. Computer engineers, system analysts, computer scientists, programmers and security professionals will be worth their weight in gold.

The push towards digitization demands that we harness our greatest strength -- our young population. It is important that this isn't an afterthought, but part of the greater design for India. This will ensure our transformation into a knowledge-based economy, making us the leading destination for offshore IT services.

Certainly there is a need to empower our youth in multidimensional way. Celebrating days like World Youth Skills Day sends a message to young people that the sky is not the limit, it's just the beginning.