We have to multiply the number of skilled people available and the total infrastructure of skill development

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: May 24 2010, 04:44am hrs
Launched in October 2009 to instill marketable skills in 150 million people by 2022, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is a public-private partnership venture set up by the government. Dilip Chenoy, who has just taken charge as its chief executive officer and managing director, feels NSDC presents an enormous opportunity to transform the skill landscape of India and impact the livelihood of millions of people. He shares his views with Garima Pant on the issues surrounding education, unemployment and lack of skills among the Indian workforce. Excerpts:

Who would you term as educated unemployed

There is no single definition but a hierarchy of definitions. You could have people with different levels of education at different age groups. Typically, we would consider employment only after a person is 18 years, the legal age at which a person could be employed. So you could have a class 5 pass-out who is above 18 and unemployed, you could have a class 8 pass, a class 10, 12, graduate, or a post-graduate who is unemployed. You could even have an ITI or an engineer. So, one scale is based on age, while another considers the education level. This whole matrix actually would be termed as a person who is educated and unemployed. There is a second definition. There is a person who could be relatively tend to be skilled in a particular area, but is unemployable and, therefore, is unemployed. This would come as a subset of the earlier classification.

Unemployable, as in the skills that he has dont suit the industry requirement

Either the skills possessed by the person do not suit the industry requirement or the person is pitching himself at a level higher than his current level and, therefore, though he might be considered for employment at a different level, he or she does not really go in for that.

National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) statistics show that in both rural and urban India, unemployment rate among the educated was higher than those with a lower level of qualification. What do you think is behind this trend

Clearly, this is where the nature of education and the requirement of skills in particular sectors of the economy come into play. If you look at most industry sectors, the percentage of jobs that are required with people with higher qualifications is far lower than the percentage of jobs required by people with a different set of skills. So if you have over-supply in one area, it is natural that the percentage of people who are unemployable or unemployed in that sector will be larger than the other sectors. So it is not surprising; its only the ground reality.

How does this skill gap affect the countrys growth

If we take the automotive sector, for instance, we find that there are three types of people there: factory workers, people working with the dealership, either sales, technique or in the service stations and, thirdly, all the support services. Another category on its own would be the drivers. Typically one would think that a driver need not be skilled, but the skill of the driver is very important and the training to the driver is equally important. We did a pilot with a company that transported the vehicles produced by them by trucks. We trained their drivers and we found that the accident rate declined. So, that was an addition to the bottom line and the top line, as it also improved their driving skills. So, if you spread that kind of training across the economy, imparting skills to the employees at various levels, the productivity would go up and the GDP of the country could actually increase.

Is it just education that is causing this growth of unskilled workforce in the country or is there more to it What is lacking

The basic grounding in education needs to be there and we have the Right to Education Act for that. But how do you build on that education There is no balance between vocational skill building and other streams of education. There is a deficit in both the streams, but in the vocational skills area, there seems to be a larger deficit. And there has been a mismatch between the skills that were produced against the skills that were required, which can be productively used in the economy.

Which sectors have the greatest gap when it comes to skills in terms of employability

Looking at skills gap from 2008 to 2022, a 240-million people skills gap has been identified across 22 sectors. The top three are in the unorganised sector, defined in terms of domestic health, beauticians, security guards, etc, which is about 37.6 million people. Second is in the auto and auto components area35 million. And the third is the building and construction industry33 million. Then come textiles and clothing, which have a shortage of people that can cut, stitch and sew with machines, followed by the transportation and logistics sector with a gap of about 17 million.

What is the NSDCs role and mandate when it comes to skills development

NSDCs mandate is to put in a public-private sector type of role. Its basically to firstly identify the specific skill development. We would not only fund projects and set up training institutions, but monitor them and the implementation across the entire life of the project. We are looking at enabling skill development in these high-growth sectors and in the unorganised sector. We will also be doing skills gap analysis and also will create a framework and working with other institutions, both in government and industry, in these select sectors related to accreditations, standards and setting up of sector skills council with a lot of people involvement. We have to multiply the number of skilled people available and the total infrastructure of skill development. So our mandate is to add 150 million people by 2022.