Producing skills for the economy

Written by C Jayanthi | Updated: Sep 30 2008, 04:57am hrs
Life is after all chance pe dance. So you need to be skillful to deal with it. Ironically, the general enrolment ratio in higher education by the end of XI Plan to 15% from the current 10%, which is negligible compared to other countries. According to Ernst & Young-EDGE 2008 report on Globalising higher education in India, the overall allocation for the higher education sector is only 0.37% of GDP, whereas China allocates 0.50% of its GDP on higher education, Brazil spends 0.91% of its GDP and Russia, 0.62%, if you were to consider the Bric countries. Therefore, is there need to involve corporate houses, as there is acute shortage of skills

The Indian IT industry that contributes 5% of Indias GDP, needs 2.3 million skilled personnel by 2010. It currently employs 3,00,000 people. Although, there are logistical problems, the government plans to counter some of the shortage by setting up 20 Indian Institutes of Information Technology, and provide requisite skills to the industry.

According to the public, private, partnership plan, the corporate partner will contribute a minimum of Rs 15.1 crore per institute; the Centre will give Rs 14. 9 crore as interest-free loan and a Rs 90-crore interest-free loan that can be repaid in 10 years. This is probably an ideal partnership but has to be seen through without hiccups and delays.

Says Dilip Chenoy, director general, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, The current education system is not able to provide adequate numbers or people with specific skills.

The manufacturing in the next decade or so will create 25 million jobs and this again will require a skilled workforce. A MaFoi survey (global search services) said that 10, 30,040 jobs were created in India in 2007. The sectors to drive job demands in India are expected to be IT & ITeS, manufacturing, retail, communication and transport. Says Jayant Davar, chairman, Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India (ACMA) Centre for Technology, and MD, Sandhar Industries, Today when the expectations from the customer on quality, cost and delivery (QCD) front are increasing, the industry has no choice than to improve their internal processes and reduce all wastage. Six Sigma is one of the tools, which reduces the variation in our processes and bring consistency in the results. Six Sigma training has benefited the auto component manufacturers in solving their chronic problems, which were persisting for a long time and left unattended.

Some 81% of Indian companies believe that the lack of human resources will be the single largest deterrent to speedy development. The recent Ernst & Young-EDGE report states that percentage of GDP allotted to education in India, stresses that India requires to substantially increase public funding on higher education and/or look at boosting private funding in higher education. Davar explained, Our training is role-based. Six Sigma training is for engineers and executives. This tool is used by engineers and executives for solving quality problems and/or for making improvements in the organisations, while adding, however, ITIs have been laggard in keeping up with the latest in curriculum. Various automotive component manufacturers have now joined hands with state governments to participate in regular running of many ITIs and expand the curriculum.

In todays scenario, illiterates cannot be employed. A Ficci report on Bridging the skill gap, points out to the lack of industry orientation of the education system, which is still examination-based in its evaluation process and not project-based assessments. It also points to the industry experience of the teachers themselves.

Says Hannelore Bossmann, head of section, South Asia and South East Asia, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Bonn, Germany, Cooperation with industry in the field of vocationalisation is an advantage in two ways: the corporate sector always has to use state of the art equipment to be competitive, this means that training in industry make young people able to use modern equipment and modern technology.

The effect on employability is higher, while Dhiraj Mathur, executive director, PricewaterhouseCoopers, says, The quality of the ITIs in the country has been deteriorating in the last decade and the industry has increasingly been reporting disconnect between the skills imparted in these institutions and those demanded in the market. While the target population for vocational education is over 20 million, the available capacity in the ITIs is about 7,50,000 and the total vocational education seats available is about 2.2 million. Obsolete courses taught by trainers who themselves are not trained for modern manufacturing techniques is the cause of this disconnect that results in poor job opportunities and consequently, low interest in enrolment.

The government has announced setting up of 1,500 ITIs, 100 polytechnics, 10,000 vocational education schools and 50,000 ICT-based Skill Development Centres in order to train about 10 million additional persons every year.

Capacity addition of this level cannot be achieved by the government alone. Besides, to have greater relevance to industry, it is imperative that corporate houses are involved in designing and teaching courses and running these institutes, he adds. As the Prime Minster has said India faces the challenge of increasing the skilled workforce from the present 5% possibly the lowest in the world) to 50% (the norm in developed countries) by 2021.

Says K Thomas Oommen, director, Malayala Manorama School of Communication, Corporate houses must undertake the responsibility of financing and maintaining excellent teacher-training programmes in private institutions (even starting them if necessary). Only corporate oversight can ensure the quality of teacher training programmes and once that is established you can be sure it will attract talented individuals.

Skill-development is crucial for chanelling investments and global partnerships for skill development in India to sector-specific needs and opportunities, was stressed upon at a recent CII Global Skills Summit in the Capital.

Says Jane E Schukoske, advisor, Om Prakash Jindal Gramin Jan Kalyan Sansthan, the sponsoring body of the proposed OP Jindal Global University and Jindal Global Law School to be established in Sonipat, Haryana, and former head of USEFI, At the higher education level vocationalisation means students should learn critical thinking, interpersonal skills, and communications skills that will prepare graduates to be life-long learners able to adjust to the changing needs of India.

Vocationalisation of education is absolutely critical to the Indian economy as increased availability of skilled manpower is crucial to sustaining economic growth, social uplift and inclusivity.

Says Arun Jaura, group chief technology officer, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, One of the key enablers in the success strategy formula is getting the right skill set of people on board to start with. Tying in vocational training, courses, and practical work that integrates with industry needs, catapults deployment of new talent from day one, while, Anand Sudarshan, MD and CEO, Manipal Education, Bangalore says, Involving corporate houses is crucial in several ways: in curriculum design, in engagement for practical training, in using working experts for teaching or training. The government has over the past five decades left vocational education almost entirely to ITIs, and the lack of success is evident for all to see. Any educationbe it vocational or traditional higher educationhas to align itself across one key dimension to the needs of the industry.