Skill training, knight in shining armour

‘Skilling,’ ‘re –skilling,’ ‘ up- skilling’ are the buzzwords in today’s times; understandably so. Primarily, India’s emergence as a knowledge economy has driven home the point that presence or absence of a skilled workforce is the single most significant decider of the nation’s developmental reach. To attain a competitive edge, education needs to be supplemented with adequate and relevant ‘skilling,’ since mere educational certifications are seen as insufficient prerequisites for present day job roles.

Secondly, for the next 25 years, India is in the middle of a demographic dividend, thanks to an unprecedented large youth population. If this youth populace is channelised, equipped and skilled appropriately, a window of opportunity can open to position the nation as a global leader. Otherwise, the probability of a demographic debacle looms large.

Karnataka’s demographic position with a population of 6. 25 crore, comprising 55% youth, is no different. Although, unemployment rate in Karnataka is better than the national average, in absolute numbers it is daunting. While an estimated 13.4 lakh need employability training annually, a whopping 188 lakh will need by 2030. Equipping and making such a large and consistently swelling number job-ready, is a huge challenge.

It is to the state’s advantage that it is home to expanding employment opportunities in diverse sectors requiring educated, amply skilled employees with a flexible attitude, sound communication, analytical ability, innovative ideas and above all a sense of commitment and initiative.

Sadly, the present education system is not attuned to instil these qualities, ill-equipping students to meet modern day employment demands. This has augmented a persistent demand–supply mismatch of skilled workforce, thereby creating more unemployability of youth than unemployment.

In this milieu, the significance of the mammoth step taken by the government of Karnataka in setting up an exclusive Skill Development, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood (SDEL) department led directly by the chief minister cannot be emphasised enough.

The move to impart necessary employability skills and to promote sustainable livelihood speaks volumes of the initiative in youth empowerment. This year, the aim is to make a difference to the lives of five lakh youth in the state through free skill training for wage or self employment.

All initiatives and resources of different departments, corporations and educational institutions of the government will now be converged under one umbrella which is slated to keep duplications and wastage of resources at bay.

Standardising skill training

The SDEL department will now be a single body for promoting, planning, implementing, monitoring and regulating skill development in the state. Standardising skill training and maintaining quality and excellence as per international benchmark will be the mainstay. Several proactive, well garnered and earnest steps are being put in place that will perhaps make Karnataka a role model in ‘skilling’ inspiring other states and countries to take a leaf out of the state’s initiative.

The Karnataka Skill Policy, a comprehensive document for providing equity in skilling is in the final drafting stage. It looks into a whole gamut of employment issues like placement, career guidance, self employment, entrepreneurship, apprenticeship, overseas employment and other relevant matters. The policy stands out in its wide coverage and in-depth scrutiny.

For such a large skilling coverage it is necessary to understand the phenomenon of individual differences and realise that “one size fits all” approach is self defeating. Only when the right job fits the right person and right person fits the right job, efficiency and productivity soars. Pre training career guidance and counselling will help find whether the aspiration of the candidates match their aptitude for choosing direct placement, apprenticeship or skill training.

Launch of a web portal, and Kaushalkar app by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on May 15 opened the floodgates for a state-wide enrolment.

The portal which was launched in all districts is a one point application for the entire skill ecosystem including e-learning, registration of trainees, trainers and training centres as well as for accreditation, affiliation and continuous monitoring of training. Within three days close to 33,000 aspirants, 160 trainers and 212 training centres registered on the portal and the app was downloaded by almost 9,000 people, indicating a positive trend.

Now is just the beginning, measures have to be taken for hassle free implementation, lest it remains only a paper tiger.

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