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‘Outstanding Institutions Builder’ S Ramadorai’s Advise On The Way Forward For India
India is among the youngest countries of the world with more than 62% of its population in the working age group of 15-59 years. With a population growth rate of around 18% every decade, this working age demographic will keep on increasing. In fact, it is estimated that during the next 20 years, there will be a shortage of 4% labour force in the world, while in India there will be a surplus of 32%. This poses a huge opportunity for India to be the global supplier of skilled workforce.
On the demand side, we know that India is set to emerge as the world’s fastest-growing major economy in years to come, growing at the rate of 7.5%. To fuel its growth journey, the Government has launched several initiatives like ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Swachh Bharat’, ‘Smart cities’, ‘Skill India’. The ambitious ‘Make in India’ program is directed to boost India’s manufacturing prowess and make this sector competitive in the global landscape and along with it creation of 100 million+ additional jobs in the next 6-7 years.
So, while it may seem like we have enough demand on one side and a huge supply on other and hardly any intervention would be required, reality, however, is different. Reports indicate that companies are struggling to identify the right candidates for the jobs as the youth’s not just lack technical or practical knowledge but they also lack soft skills. As a result a huge number of graduates, engineers and MBAs are struggling to find jobs that meet their aspirations. It is estimated that only 4.69% of the total workforce in India has undergone formal skill training as compared to 68% in UK, 75% in Germany, 52% in USA, 80% in Japan and 96% in South Korea.
Thus, our country presently faces a dual challenge of paucity of highly trained workforce on one hand, and non-employability of large sections of the conventionally educated youth. Hence to harness our demographic dividend as well as to meet the Industry demand, India needs to create a highly skilled& employable workforce.
Towards creation of a skilled workforce, there are a few other challenges. Providing skilling opportunities at India’s enormous scale has been a key challenge. We are lacking in terms of infrastructure availability to train such a huge mass of youth. Most of the vocational training programmes are not aligned to the requirements of the industry. There is multiplicity in assessment and certification systems existing in the country which is leading to inconsistent outcomes and creating confusion to the employers. The availability of good quality trainers is also a major area of concern. Enrolment for vocational education is low, due to lack of awareness, poor access to training facility locally and aspirational mismatch. Other key challenge is public perception on skilling. There is a false sense that manual labour is undignified and it is deeply rooted in the Indian society. These are some of the issues for which I feel that vocational jobs are not the preferred jobs in India.
Recognising these issues, the Indian Government has created an independent ministry of Skill development and entrepreneurship and has supported it with an institutional framework including agencies like the National Skills Development Agency (NSDA), National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) and the Directorate General of Training (DGT) under the Skill India mission.
Measures that Institutes can take to bridge the massive skill gap
To bridge the massive skill gap there has to be adequate participation of the industry and academia. While a lot has been said about the Industry participating in skill development through CSR and other programs, let me share some thoughts about how academic institutions can help to improve skill development in India
Training Delivery – Private institutions can be training providers themselves or by partnering with NSDC and deliver industry relevant training.
Capacity Building – Academic institutions can allow Vocational training providers to utilize their infrastructure during their slack time. They can help the VTPs (Vocational Training Providers) by donation of old machines/equipment/computers or by adopting ITI’s (Industrial Training Institutes) or VTPs to convert them to state of art training centers.
Knowledge Partnership – The greatest value that institutions can bring towards skill India is by sharing the knowledge they have gained over the years. The Companies can help in developing content that is industry relevant by partnering with SSCs (Sector Skill Councils)/ VTPs. Institutions can also impart training on other skills needed for employability e.g. Soft skills, Communication skills, digital literacy etc.
Training of trainers – Industry &Academia could assist in creating a pool of quality vocational trainers by encouraging employees to volunteer to be master trainers.
Scaling through Technology– Institutions can offer innovative technology solutions to overcome the scale problem. They can contribute to MOOCs (Massive open online course) – by digitizing content, creating free and online Educational Resources, Building Simulators or gamifying contents for training and assessment in different trades.
Skill development is a journey which India has embarked on and I am confident that the institutions across India will rise to the clarion call of making India the skill capital of the world.