Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC) of India recently launched its Karnataka chapter. Dr Alexander Thomas, Chairman, HSSC, Karnataka State speaks to M Neelam Kachhap about the ecosystem for quality vocational education and skill development in the healthcare sector
What is the current state of skilled manpower in the Indian health sector?
India is expected to be home to a skilled workforce of 500 million by 2022. About 12 million people are expected to join the workforce every year. There are over 11 lakh allied health professionals like nursing associates, sanitarians, medical assistants, medical equipment operators, optometrists, traditional and faith healers, physiotherapists, dieticians and dental assistants across the country. Yet, it is still short of the current demand. The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has estimated that incremental human resource requirement in India’s healthcare sector will double to 74 lakh by 2022. Besides, the size of the healthcare sector is expected to grow to Rs 9.64 lakh crores by 2017.
Why has skill development in healthcare been neglected?
In the past 65 years, we have spent most of our time talking about education. Lakhs and crores were spent in education and we thought imparting skill was part of education. But skill development did not happen and it remained neglected. Academics is different from skill development and we have to understand that.
India has spent generously on education and kept neglecting skill development, which has today resulted in a huge shortage of skilled workforce needed by the industry. In India, even today we don’t have entry-level, skilled manpower which the industry demands highly.
How is HSSC bridging this gap?
HSSC identifies skill gaps in various allied healthcare job roles through market surveys, occupational mapping and functional analysis. It also frames National Occupational Standards (NOS) and develops high quality courses and training modules for job roles. These training modules are as per the competency framework developed by HSSC. Quality check as well as building accreditation and certification mechanisms for institutes and students are also part of HSSC’s roles. It is setting up an Academy of Excellence (AOE) for capacity building. It also intends to enable maximum employment of SSC-certified personnel within the healthcare sector.
Why did HSSC launch the Karnataka Chapter? What are its goals?
In the Governing Council meeting it was found imperative to expand the regional presence of HSSC. Karnataka Chapter has been launched to help the allied health workers who play a major role in delivering quality health care service with direct impact on patient safety and comfort. The Karnataka Chapter aims to ensure that the allied healthcare staff are also accredited and skilled after undergoing standardised training, bringing in a higher degree of professionalism at all levels. Karnataka has taken the lead in major health initiatives. HSSC Karnataka proposes to set up a model chapter which will be replicated in other states.
Goals of HSSC Karnataka Chapter
- Scaling up the skill development activities
- Creating awareness about Qualification Pack – National NOS, HSSC
- Development of National Occupational Standards
- Accreditation of training providers
- Conduct ‘train the trainer’ and ‘training the assessor’ programme
As the Chairman of HSSC Karnataka, what would be your immediate priority?
My immediate priority would be to spread awareness about HSSC. The other priorities would be:
- To have nationally recognised accredited programmes running at various colleges
- To give the opportunity to those who want continue studies for professional courses with career progression.
- To provide manpower to expanding healthcare services.
- Affiliate new institutes and recommend new courses based on need.
What are your plans for HSSC Karnataka?
Among other things, what we really want to focus on in the near future is ‘Train the Trainer’ programmes as it helps to train the medical professionals for different job roles of allied health on the basis of National Occupational Standards set by HSSC. We would also want to enrol eligible students (by affordable institutions). In short, help in providing quality, affordable healthcare in our country.