Depending upon their expertise in respective fields, educational institutions of repute—both in the government and private sectors—must be mandated to contribute to Skill India. Action has to happen at two levels. One, identifying the required skills and, two, developing and sustaining the mechanism to provide skills to a large number of people.
As far as first step is concerned—identification of critical skills that need to be imparted on a priority basis—currently 90% vocational institutions concentrate on imparting only 40 skills, as compared to more than 5,000 different skills that such institutes impart in China.
Skill India has already identified the necessary skills and has created a platform for the same. However, what is going to be critical is how do we achieve this skill development which is of such large magnitude?
The answer is establishing a large number of vocational training institutes and polytechnics across states. The existing Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) were established with this intention, of providing a steady stream of skilled workforce. However, somewhere, these lost focus and momentum. Rejuvenating ITI establishments through both government support and partnership with the industry is going to be a strong foot forward. A similar initiative has to happen at the polytechnic level.
Ensuring success in these endeavours requires another partnership—with bodies of higher learning such as National Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Technology—so that the quality of skills being developed can be monitored. At the same time, there are domains wherein skills related to the field of business can be addressed by bodies like Institute of Cost Accountants of India and business schools.
All of this requires collaboration among institutions and corporate entities to integrate the skilled workforce into the industry. The key challenge is to make such establishments of vocational training easily accessible, especially in rural areas. The second is to evolve a framework for developing teachers and trainers for such institutes. The third is to develop and deliver skills training by integrating internships and apprenticeship programmes in both SMEs and large corporate units. This is by far the single critical precondition for the success of such programmes.
While these are the hardware for success of skill development, the software is going to be to making it attractive for the youth. Skilled work has to be adequately remunerated by organisations. With an integrated marketing effort, blending the digital platform with traditional practices can ensure adequate reach. This has been an ignored area of building programmes and ensuring their success. Budget 2016 had such provisions, but it remains to be seen how well these are implemented. The intent is good, if the execution is also equally good, the target for 2022, although ambitious, is achievable.
The author is professor of marketing communications, IMI New Delhi