The World Bank recently declared India as the world’s leading receiver of remittances. Last year alone, these stood at a whopping $62.7 billion—nearly three times the size of the BPO industry in the country! India steadily holds this top spot since 2009, contributing to more than 10% of the world’s remittances. While some oppose migration of workforce, often labelling it as ‘brain drain’, it’s definitely a boon for the country. In fact, the Prime Minister’s vision of Skill India and Make-in-India revolve strongly around enabling our potential workforce to be trained as per global standards—making India both the top talent-exporting country and top manufacturing hub. After all, ‘skilled migrants’ are any day better than ‘skilled, unemployed people’ at home! And they come back to ‘make in India’. The two key driving factors for migration of talent are: significantly better wages and abundance of opportunities across a spectrum of geographies. Migration-driven remittances have a profound impact on families, villages and has a generational impact—a discussion for a later date. While talent has been migrating for a long time, especially to the Gulf region, the ecosystem is plagued with inefficiencies, leading to lack of transparency and merit for people to get their aspirational jobs. It is further compounded by differential waging and the reported cases of exploitation of workers. There is also considerable lack of access to information around job opportunities.
Recent initiatives by the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) around skill assessments and international certifications can go a long way in addressing these problems. These pave the path for a stronger, efficient and, more importantly, merit-driven talent ecosystem. Certification is a strong credential that illustrates the holder’s knowledge and skill in a domain and gives the holder a sense of accomplishment, something that is missing in this ecosystem. And if it’s an international one, it makes candidates more acceptable globally and better enabled to pursue their dream opportunities sans fear of underemployment and other forms of exploitation. Countries receiving our talent also recognise the challenges and have shown great interest in these initiatives along with their own efforts to standardise and certify talent. In India, NSDC continues to build skill centres for trainings and certification benchmarked to international standards. Through their public-private partnership models with skilling bodies across the country, they run vocational certification programmes which comply with skill standards that match global benchmarks across the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the US. In fact, recognising Aspiring Minds’ extensive international presence (beyond India) in the Middle East, China, the Philippines and the US, NSDC recently appointed them as its only international certification provider. Such efforts have created an opportunity for our talent to get internationally recognised certificates in India that are fully sponsored by the government or are at affordable prices.
Globally, there is an increased emphasis on international skill certification—with the objective that the assessment has verified an individual’s ability to perform his or her job in the conditions and expectations of the receiving country. Organisations such as Aspiring Minds, ACT WorkKeys (the US) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, TESDA (the Philippines) are some key players that have been working towards making international skill certification and third-party assessments relevant and available. Employers benefit from these objective assessments as they bring efficiency and quality to their talent acquisition process. Certified migrants can also smoothly transition from one job to another and sometimes even from one industry to another. Every year, 8-9 lakh Indian workers seek overseas employment. A robust and effective skill assessment and certification system is a critical building block for this ecosystem, and international skill certificates are their passport to global opportunities and success.
The author is co-founder & CEO, Aspiring Minds, the global employability evaluation and certification company