On one hand, India has a large number of educated unemployed, and on the other, industry is desperately short of skilled professionals. One of the biggest challenges HR managers across industry face today is finding candidates with the right skill-sets. Being qualified is one thing, being skilled for the job quite another. So how do we overcome the challenge of getting skilled professionals? Skill development training, if delivered in a balanced and well-defined manner, can help bring talent to industry.
Against 1.28 crore new entrants to the country’s workforce every year, the capacity of skill development in India is only around 31 lakh. The 12th Five Year Plan set out to increase this capacity to 1.5 crore, and to meet this, skill development through engagement with both the public and private sector stakeholders was thought necessary.
The National Skill Development Corporation was set up with an objective of increasing the skill training capacity in the country. It was formed in 2008, with the approval of the Union Cabinet as a not-for-profit public company to encourage and synchronise private sector initiative in skill development. It was felt that the skills of a large number of young people from the unorganised sector, who lack formal certification, could be utilised under umbrella initiatives recognised by the government.
Then came Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Skill India campaign, which targets training 40 crore people in different skills by 2022. It includes initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana—the flagship schemes for incentivising skill training. But lack of awareness about such training programmes, the absence of adaptability with the changing market needs, and the lack of vertical mobility are key challenges facing the skill development landscape in India.
Bridging the gap
The growing disconnect between higher education and industry requirement in India is a matter of grave concern. With our overemphasis on academic performance, even some of the best universities in India are producing qualified but hardly employable graduates. The result is that the employability gap is getting wider by the day. Skill development needs to be a strong component of our educational curriculum. A good mix of classroom teaching and practical training is what is needed.
The last few years have seen an exponential rise in the number of start-ups in the country. We need to explore the possibilities of investing in start-ups and feeding them with not just with funds, but also with well-trained and industry-ready professionals. Job training institutes can play a big role in picking up deserving candidates with industry tie-ups. Smooth coordination between industry and placement institutes can help in tapping of the right potential and creating industry-ready talent. Accreditations and certifications from the industry also add value to new entrants to the job market. In fact, ICA EduSkills alone has partnered with over 70,000 registered employers in the fields of accounts, banking, finance, taxation and IT.
If you look at it, there is not a dearth of jobs, but the shortage really is of the required skills for a particular job. Many a time, an organisation needs only 10+2-level candidates from may be a rural background to fill its vacancies. Training and placement institutes can match organisations’ and candidates’ requirement. Perfect matching is key to good placement. The idea is to get the right candidate for the right job.
Internships provide students hands-on work opportunity and help them learn to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-life situations. These are stepping stones to the job market. Many companies give high-performing interns job offers, others give internship certificates which could help one land a good job. Placement institutes that have tie-ups with MNCs and industry bodies can facilitate internships and jobs.
Good communication and soft skills are part of the job requirement. Placement training institutes can help students master soft skills to increase their market value. From expanding their business vocabulary and increasing their communication skills, to writing customised e-mails for clients and preparing interesting PowerPoint presentations, all these can be learnt at placement training institutes.
Companies no longer just look for academic excellence; they lay great stress on a candidate’s suitability for the job. Here, mock interviews and assessment tests can be great tools for preparing them for the day of reckoning. These provide appropriate grooming and build confidence for campus placement interview.
Job fairs aid in recruitment and networking. The attempt should be to connect prospective employees with multiple employers. Recruitment fairs give students industry exposure and the interactions held provide them real-time experience about the hiring process and methodologies.
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We are living in a fast-paced, technological world. If India wants to move up in the comity of nations, we need to improve our educational infrastructure, and technology is the most important component for that improvement. We need to integrate technology at the grass-roots level and introduce futuristic skills for students to learn. The aim should be to empower schools and support the budding generation of change-makers and innovators to visualise, design and create.
Narendra Kumar Shyamsukha is chairman, ICA EduSkills, the vocational training and placement institute