To make Skill India work, start training centres from middle-school level

Published: February 20, 2017 3:05:09 AM

Setting up college-level skills training centres isn’t enough to make Skill India work. Ideally, we must begin from the middle school level

skillIndia stands far behind in imparting skills training as compared to many other countries. (Illustration: Shyam)

Jaideep Gupta

India has been witnessing a speedy economic growth in the past few years, driven by the rise of new-age industries. In fact, it might remain the fastest growing major economy in the world with an estimated GDP growth rate of 7.9% in the fiscal year ending March 2018 (subject to several conditions). This rapid growth in numbers is a result of high disposable income and the increase in purchasing power that has resulted in demand for a new level of service quality. However, regardless of this notable growth, there is a palpable shortage of skilled manpower in the country.

Against the backdrop of a changing economic environment, it becomes necessary to emphasise on inculcating and evolving the skill set for the young population of the country.

India stands far behind in imparting skills training as compared to many other countries. Several reports indicate that only 10% of the total workforce in the country receives some kind of skills training, while 80% of the entrants in the workforce do not get an opportunity for the same. The biggest challenge here lies in identifying how to make skilling programmes motivating and in establishing a need in the mind of people to pursue skill development programmes vis-a-vis a pure educational course.

The solution lies in the government looking beyond setting up skill centres and incorporating skill-based training in both government and private schools.

The Indian education system uses pedagogical techniques that promote rote learning, making it inadequate in terms of skill development. Student interests are hardly ever nourished and the results of this present themselves in ‘youth unemployment’.

A skill centre in schools will help students understand that there is more to life than engineering, medicine and business. Student interests will be nourished and developed. They will be shown how these interests can be turned into achievements, making students more able, confident and responsible.

All this can happen if ‘developing skills’ is made mandatory part of their curriculum. When the focus shifts from rote learning to practical learning, students understand their interests better and make wise career choices. Therefore, apart from developing life skills, it would have a significant impact on their college/university admissions.

India being one of the most populated countries in the world has an abundant amount of manpower, which is one of the reasons many multinational companies are setting their production centres in the country. Further, the country has the advantage of ‘demographic dividend’, which can be refined to build a robust and skilled workforce in the near future. Therefore, the government and its training partners are required to work together to ensure that school students get access to industry-aligned courses and relevant training methodology for them to foresee their career path. Also, there is a need to harness technology in terms of digital solutions, smart tools and internet-driven delivery to achieve the required scale of mobilisation. Although skilling India to equip the citizens for competing on the global front may seem like a prolonged challenge at present, it only needs a change of mindset that doesn’t seem to go beyond producing a doctor or an engineer in every household. Because besides engineers, doctors and business executives, we also need an assortment of skills to drive the engine called ‘India’.

India is growing as a developing country, but the economy is yet to create a youth-friendly labour market to eliminate or reduce unemployment. There are numerous factors like lack of jobs, incompetent vocational training, lack of skill development and unrealistic expectations from jobs, etc, that have given rise to youth unemployment. The growing economy has not been contributing to an increase in formal jobs or a youth-friendly labour market. The Indian government has identified the missing blocks and is initiating actions to tackle the situation, but these are not enough to get a hold on such a mammoth problem.

The author is founder & CEO, Univariety, a marketplace with students at the centre of admission process. Views are personal

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