The cornerstone of any country’s development is its people; their ability to drive the country ahead – socially and economically.
And to make this happen, education is key. India is on its path to become a self-reliant US$5 trillion economy and to support this vision, a major responsibility rests with the current and potential youth.
Thus, it becomes imperative for the government to have a deeper and renewed focus on the education sector.
The recently passed National Education Policy (NEP) has already set the pace for revamping the education sector of the country. However, while NEP is a significant move, a lot remains to be achieved across the areas of skill development, education infrastructure, blended learning, and education financing.
As an education-focused organization, we strongly feel that the government must focus on the following:
Firstly, we need to deepen our focus on skill development, right from the corporate sector to the low-income population ensuring that Indians are equipped with the necessary skills to support and accelerate the economy.
According to a survey report by FICCI, at least 9 percent of Indians will be in jobs that do not exist currently and 37 percent of our workforce will require radically changed skill sets to meet their employment demands.
Another report by McKinsey highlighted the fact that as many as 87% of surveyed executives said that their organizations were either experiencing skill gaps or were expecting them to happen within the next few years.
The pandemic has worsened this gap and has put a spotlight on the need to re-skill and up-skill professionals across sectors. Hence, there is a need to grant appropriate stimulus to the skill development sector and ensure inclusive growth opportunities for all, as well as create a workforce that is ready to meet the global demands too.
Secondly, education infrastructure is another important segment on which the Union Budget should focus on. The pandemic forced over 1.5 million schools across India to close overnight, making it mandatory for the sector to adopt the digital platform.
Although in the post-pandemic ecosystem, digital education has been embraced, India still needs to build capabilities to support blended learning completely. Therefore, educational infrastructure lending is a necessity to aid the development of educational institutions across the country.
As India tries to meet the demands of blended learning and schools look for ways to enhance technology infrastructure and capacities, the government should consider granting ‘infrastructure status’ to education institutions to make quality education affordable and accessible for deserving Indian students.
The Union Budget should look at implementing reforms such as refinancing of retail Education Loans for lower ticket size. Such a financing scheme, similar to the one available to HFCs, can provide a boost to the Education Loan segment and contribute to liquidity management for NBFCs.
This in turn would provide the necessary momentum for NBFCs to create a stronger customer proposition and contribute to building the economy at large.
We believe that to understand the true meaning of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and to achieve this goal, we have to strengthen our education sector.
For growth and innovation to happen and for children and youth to benefit, the right policy push, investments and technological advancements are paramount.
We are looking forward to the upcoming Union Budget's direction in helping bridge the current educational gaps across the country and in securing a sustainable long-term growth structure that will further boost the economy.
(The author is CEO, Avanse Financial Services)Disclaimer: The views and investment tips expressed by experts on Moneycontrol.com are their own and not those of the website or its management. Moneycontrol.com advises users to check with certified experts before taking any investment decisions.