Helping govt in skill development

The growing disconnect between higher education and industry requirement is, today, a matter of grave conc­ern.

Even as graduates after gra­duates pass out of universities and aspire for a good job, their lack of requisite skills stands in the way of getting a good break. With our overemphasis on academic performance, even top-ranked institutions are producing qualified but hardly employ­able youngsters and the employability gap gets wider every day.

One of the biggest challenges hiring managers face today is finding candidates with the right skill sets. Being qualified is one thing, being job-ready quite another. So how do we bridge the gap? Vocational and skill development training, if delivered in a balanced and well-defined manner, can help bring talent to industry. In this context, private vocational training institutes can play a major role in helping government with skill development.

Against 12.8 million new entrants to the country’s workforce every year, the capacity of skill development in India is only around 3.1 million. The government’s 12th Five Year Plan set out to increase this capacity to 15 million, and to meet this, skill development via engagement of both the public and private sectors’ stakeholders, was thought necessary.

The ‘Skill India’ campaign was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2015 with the ambitious target of training 40 crore people in different skills by 2022. The campaign included initiatives like the National Skill Development Corporation and the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana —the flagship scheme to incentivise skill training by providing financial rewards to candidates successfully completing approved skill training courses.

Vocational education is funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and is mostly conducted at the secondary school level. But lack of awareness about vocational training programmes, absence of adaptability with changing market needs, and lack of vertical mobility are key challenges facing the skill development landscape in India.

The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) was set up as a part of the National Skill Development Mission to address the growing need for skilled manpower across sectors. The skill of a large number of young people from the unorganised sector, who lack formal certification, can be utilised under these umbrella initiatives recognised by the government.

Traditionally, vocational education is regarded as non-academic training related to a specific trade route or occupation. By combining the right quality of skill enhancement and dyna­mic vocational training to meet new-age requirements, organis­ations can add value to the wo­rkforce significantly and remain competitive in the long run.

Need of the hour

As mentioned earlier, industry relevant, skill-based training and education is the need of the hour and concrete steps need to be taken. Integrating it with mainstream education can provide immense value. Private vocational training institutes can play a big role here.

Competency-based skill fra­meworks designed in the public private partnership (PPP) model for customised audiences provide multiple pathways between general and vocational education connecting one level of learning to the other and enabl­ing recipients to progress to hig­her levels from any starting po­int in the education ecosystem.

Opting for a course at a vocational training institute can give a candidate unparalleled industry exposure, and the workshops and the interactions held at these institutes can provide real-time experience and make him job ready. On the other hand, with live corporate projects and on-the job training, the requisite job skills can be imparted and enhanced.

At present, nearly 80% of new entrants to the country’s workforce get little or no opportunity for skills education. Merely 2.5% of our workforce is exposed to formal vocational training. Enrolling in a vocation training institute or hands-on skill training course can be of great help to candidates looking out for employment opportunities.

A number of government agencies and private institutes are imparting skill education, but there is little coordination between them. Some companies are partnering with various state and Central government departments in offering skill building programmes for the country’s potential workforce in diverse sectors including agriculture, IT-ITES, retail, telecom, banking & accounting, among others. Private vocational institutes can give the government a big helping hand in skilling India and providing industry with job-ready candidates.

(The writer is Chairman, ICA Edu Skills, a vocational training and placement institute)

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