Digital skilling goes hip to bridge the digital divide-Anant Maheshwari President Microsoft
New Delhi: Tech companies are using innovative ways to tap into the digital skilling market among the blue-collar workers. Microsoft India has developed bandwidth-light and entertaining video packages to teach vocational skills to daily wagers. These videos fit the time of commute and many employers are encouraging their daily workers to watch these videos before they arrive at the factory gate. “These videos are raising productivity for both the workers and the employers,” says Mr Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd.
Speaking on skilling for the digital future in AIMA’s LeaderSpeak programme, Mr Maheshwari also pointed out that India’s rural crafts people were being trained in digital technologies to enable them to accelerate the process of design creation. He pointed out that Microsoft has been working with weavers to enhance their productivity and to preserve their inter-generational intellectual property.
Mr Harsh Pati Singhania, President, AIMA and Vice Chairman and Managing Director, JK Paper Ltd, moderated the dialog and Ms Rekha Sethi, Director General, AIMA, anchored the session.
Mr Singhania said that the only way to take advantage of India demographics and its large market was to make the leap to the digital skills. “It is a must to have a 7%-8% sustain GDP growth rate,” he said.
On the role of digital skilling in education, Mr Maheshwari said that Microsoft has created an ecosystem which is helping not only the regular teachers but enabling innovative youngsters to teach their peers. He said that Microsoft is building cloud platforms for learning of all kinds of skills and enabling startups to use its platform to deliver skilling solutions at scale.
When asked about the impact of digitization and automation on employment, Mr Maheshwari said that same concerns were raised when the computers began to be used. Instead of eliminating jobs, computers expanded manufacturing, trade, finance, government etc and job creation was accelerated. He gave the example of the healthcare sector’s transformation during covid and pointed out that with remote healthcare delivery, more areas and people will be served and new kinds of jobs will be created in the healthcare sector. “The efficiency generated by digital technologies will create positive outcomes provided there is digital skilling,” he said.
On the issue of ethics and use of AI, Mr Maheshwari said that Microsoft’s business model ensured that its customers would not face an existential crisis due to technology. “The question to ask is not what the tech can do but it is ask what the tech should do,” he said.
More than 800 business leaders, executives, academics and students joined the dialog.