Magazine article Ivey Business Journal Online

Young India: Developing, Engaging and Retaining Gen Y Talent

Magazine article Ivey Business Journal Online

Young India: Developing, Engaging and Retaining Gen Y Talent

Article excerpt

India's large Gen Y cohort is young and eager to learn and advance. Managing this workforce through robust talent identification and development plans will be the only way that organizations will reap the benefits of the dividend promised by Young India. Managers will learn what they and their organizations must do to help this cohort realize its potential.

With 65 percent of its population under the age of 35, India today boasts one of the largest available workforces in the world. This is a telling and powerful demographic truth. Even more powerful is the fact that a large segment of this demographic belongs to the Gen Y cohort, those either just entering the workforce or who have been working for one or two years. How this cohort makes the transition into the workforce - either from school or otherwise, and how organizations develop and engage them to move up and become business leaders are extremely important questions for Indian organizations today.

In this article I will describe how the transition will need to be managed both, by the country and organizations, in order to be able to maximize the opportunities and benefits of this enviable demographic that we have in India.


India today is no longer the world's back-office. The TeamLease Indian Labor Report of 2009 estimated that 300 million people will enter the labor force by 2025, and that by then, 25 percent of the world's skilled workers will be Indians. This pool of young, customer-facing/sales-generating employees is going to drive and impact the country and organizations' strategy in years to come.

Gaps in education, skill and vocational training is one of the largest our country faces. The National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) is already grappling with the challenge of providing training and re-training for 500 million people by 2022. The goals for meeting the challenge include fundamental education reform across primary, secondary and higher education, and significant enhancement of supplementary skills development. While the government is faced with the need for faster, quicker and better solutions for education, they are finding it difficult to keep pace with the solutions that are emerging. Hence, where do organizations such as McDonald's fit in?

The fact is that it is no longer enough for organizations to provide on-the-job training. Rather, it is important to go into those regions where people haven't had a chance to learn and build skills, and to enable them to earn livelihoods through basic vocational skill training. A number of NGO's/NPO's like the Dr.Reddy's Foundation (DRF) and the Kotak foundation are providing these opportunities.

Providing people with work skills enables them to earn livelihoods across the country. Large retail organizations like Reliance and Shoppers Stop, as well as smaller players, are supporting these initiatives by providing employment to people who otherwise would have been lost or leftout. Thus, employability in the country is improved.


The 49-year-old, Gurgaon-based CEO of a software product company, was in for a rude shock some months ago when one of his young employees peeped into his spacious office with a beaming smile and said: "Hey, your office is goddamn big... What fun, man!"

Learning how to attract, retain and capture the full value of this new workforce will become imperative for an organization's success. Moving from a traditional patriarchal society will probably be the toughest part of the transition for our country. From the joint families of the 1920's, where the head of the family managed finances and also made key decisions for the extended family, India has moved to post-independence era of unprecedented political and cultural freedom.

In order to understand the changes it is important to realize that for generations Indian culture and society were shaped by large extended families living in the same geographical areas. …

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