G20’s Digital Skilling: Initiatives and Frameworks That Build a Better Tomorrow 

With a theme of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (One Earth – One Family – One Future), India assumed the presidency of G20 in December 2022. In accordance with this theme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the agenda for G20 as “Inclusive, Ambitious, Action-oriented, and Decisive.”

Many experts see this as an opportunity for India to tackle multiple challenges plaguing the Global South. It is an equitable opportunity for India to pitch for strong measures to promote digital skilling and build an inclusive work ecosystem. 

G20 countries, developing and advanced countries alike, face challenges of youth employment in the face of an ever-evolving digital economy. The summit set the foundation for growth, and this was crucial. For insights on how it started and its evolution, read on. 

The G20 Summit: A Forum for the Future of Change

In a bid to address global challenges, Turkey initiated the first of G20’s efforts in 2015 to discuss the challenges relating to cross-border data flow, privacy, net neutrality, and tax regimes. 

The Coronavirus pandemic was another wake-up call, escalating the need for a collective response, and this helped. The world did reap some benefits of a digital economy. Fast-forward to 2023, and the G20 group has focused on tomorrow’s digital workforce. 

Laying frameworks for digital skill mapping and identifying gaps, the group intends to also focus on cyber security in digital economies and digital public infrastructure. Sanjiv Bajaj, Chairman and Managing Director, Bajaj Finserv Ltd., has also outlined India has a role in setting the agenda for the new digital world. 

“India has given hints of focusing on Data for Development, aka digital revolution, to solve the world’s problems with collaboration with the G20 community. The world is looking forward to how Indian leadership is going to change things for the better in the coming year for G20,” he said.  

Bridging the Digital Gap by Infusing Investments 

As a crucible for partnerships that have the potential to realign the trajectory of growth, the G20 group has clear plans for the digital gap. Developing countries like India still face the challenge of bridging the digital divide. As per a report, India is leading in the number of offline people, at 705 million. 

In the face of digitalisation across different sectors and industries, this is alarming and very stifling. Almost 35% of the world’s population still has no internet access. While 87% of the population in developed countries have access to basic internet services, this proportion is just 44% in developing countries.

To pursue the goal of building a digital global economy, the G20 economies will need to infuse investments in infrastructure that make the Internet available for all. This would require the visionary leaders of G20 nations to ensure high-quality digital connectivity and digital literacy among the unconnected population. 

The transformational leaders of the G20 nations have already acknowledged the significance of ICTs and digital technologies in the past. In 2019, G20 nations resolved to make domestic and international investments in promoting internet penetration and scaling fibre connectivity. 

In 2021, G20 leaders reiterated the need to promote investments in the digitisation of software, hardware, and R&D. Under India’s presidency, many expect that the group will decide to take positive steps to include the unconnected population in the digital space. 

In fact, progress has occurred, and the Indian IT space has been a frontrunner in inclusion, especially in economic. Despite the fact that many Indians are offline, the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) is an undoubted and incredible success, enabling millions. Its introduction catalysed the inclusion of many into the formal financial fold, and its growth paved the way for the sector.  

The Government of India, in particular, will need to continue providing incentives to breed successful business leaders in India that focus on digital inclusion. This will only encourage them to provide affordable internet-based services in low-demand and high-cost regions.

Adaptive Education to Promote Digital Literacy for All

Besides building an equitable digital infrastructure, the transformational leaders in G20 countries have their sights set on those entering the job marketplace. In an ever-evolving job landscape, student curriculums must be designed to be adaptive to ICT and cognitive skills. 

Apart from digital literacy, the potential candidates also need to possess complementary skills, such as decision-making, problem-solving, etc., to be ready for the working environment. To make these objectives a reality in a feasible time frame, the G20 group has promoted adaptive education through several avenues, including public-private partnerships and policy advocacy. 

In fact, during the recent G20 Education Working Group (G20 EWG) 2023 meeting in Chennai, India was clear in its mission to bring about the full transformational potential of education. Digital literacy is a part of that mission as tech-enabled learning is a core element of the four priorities of the group.  

Addressing Complex Challenges Arising from the Future of Work 

If the skill-building processes in G20 nations lag behind the progress of technological adoption, it has been estimated the G20 economies will lose close to $11.5 trillion in cumulative GDP growth till 2028. 

The rise in unemployment due to automation and robotics can hurt these economies badly. With the pandemic accelerating this timeline, the group has turned to empowering leaders who have proven capable of rising to the challenge. Titans like Sanjiv Bajaj, Ratan Tata, and Ashwin Mittal are among the leaders equipped to solve serious problems and have a track record to show for it.  

By 2030, India’s share of total work hours using physical and manual skills is also expected to diminish by 2.2%. Hence, it is also high time for India to take forward the work done under the Argentinian presidency in 2018 to make opportunities offered by the digital economy available and accessible for all.  

About 12 million people enter the job market in India every year, and the digital skill gap restricts many of them from securing a job. Transformational leaders in India’s private sector have a pivotal role in upskilling the workforce digitally. Thankfully, the G20 partnerships are devoting their efforts toward long-term visions with short-term and long-term impact. 

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