Skill Development in India: Gaps and Opportunities

The goal of creating a skilled workforce has to be coupled with corresponding employment opportunities for the youth, without which it will not resolve the core challenge of unemployment in the country.

Sep 28, 2018 12:09 IST India Infoline News Service

The India CSR Outlook Report 2017 by NGO Box states that Rs376cr was spent during the year 2016-17 for skill development programmes.  Now, if we analyze this closely, we realize that most of the corporates are either investing in existing vocational training infrastructures or setting up their own skill training institutes.

While this has definitely resulted in increase in the number of youth trained in different vocational skills in the country and obviously complementing the “Skill India” mission. However, there is still a significant number of skilled and unskilled youth who are unemployed. This is primarily because we missed out few critical points.
 
Foremost, skilling was never meant to solve the problem of unemployment until supported with a focused approach leading to income generation. The scale and size with which Skill India mission was launched mandated massive infrastructure and capacity building of trainers and it would be appropriate to say that it started on a high note until recently when the gaps surfaced. The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) programme focussed on skill development, but completely missed out on assessing employment opportunities for the skilled youth post training.
 
The statistics on NSDC placements states that about half of the trained youth are still unemployed. Factually, wage-based jobs can be created only if the existing industry expands or new industries are being set up and going by India statistics, only 0.41mn jobs were created in 2016-17 as against 7mn+ new workers entering the job force. This calls for a fact check if the informal sector in the country has a bigger potential to create jobs than the formal sector.
 
Second, most of the skill training institutes are struggling with the following challenges:
 
a) Mobilizing the target youth - It is imperative to have the right batch of candidates enrolled in the training institutes who are aspirational and have the right attitude towards career building.
b) Enabling industry linkages for job placements - Fostering connects with the industry for placements is a tricky business especially since India has more number of job ready candidates than the actual job opportunities.
c) Post-placement tracking - For employers hiring blue collar workforce hailing from rural and semi urban areas, retention is a critical concern. From sudden change of work environments (from informal to formal set up), workload, change of lifestyle, and migration from home district are some of the critical reasons behind poor retention. These challenges needs to be addressed swiftly by the government.
 
Third, unfortunately the skilling process in India has given shape to a revenue generation model for training providers. It is a flourishing business opportunity for the training institutes who are being paid by the government for every enrollment. Needless to say, the urge to increase enrollments has a double facet meaning for the institutes. The fee is paid to the institute in 3 tranches –
 
30% on commencement of the training batch against validated candidates
50% on successful certification of trainees
20% on outcome based on placements
 
As per the PMKVY guidelines, 80% of the fees are credited before the placement process even starts. Trading away the balance 20% is not a bigger concern, hence placement drives and initiatives are not on high priority. The government must look at the payment band to redesign it and for making training institutes more responsible for job placements. increase the accountability of the training institutes for job placements.
 
Fourth, the zero-fee based model for the students does not attract the right candidature. It should have been well anticipated that the youth might take such courses for granted since there is no monetary commitment involved. The government must begin to reward the training institutes that offer 100% placement and accordingly fix payment band for best performers.
 
One of the most critical points is that there is a dire need to create awareness among the youth on why the government is investing in them and who will be the ultimate beneficiary of the whole process. This requires extensive counselling sessions to make them understand the significance of the choosing the right vocational training course, work environment and role of other relevant factors that will impact their lives.
 
One of the main factors driving automation in the country today is that most developed nations are asking the outsourcing partners to embrace more automation, since it helps them increase scale and competitiveness. Sounds Fair! However, its increasing pace and the probabilities with which automation is likely to hit the Indian industry will not be a pleasant surprise. In such a scenario, it is imperative to diligently move towards future skill set requirements which will serve the purpose of employment in later years.
 
Project Samriddh by Subash Chandra Foundation is an initiative which aims to map the future skill set requirement considering automation and other factors which shall impact the hiring trends in near future. We are looking to partner with corporates/potential employers who wish to share their sets of industry requirement with us and we will develop a network of skill training partners, industry and key government institutions to devise strategies that can help us resolve the issue of surplus unemployed workforce in the market. Project Samriddh will be operational in the states of Chhattisgarh & Jharkhand.
 
Government's intention behind Skill India mission was appreciable, however, the implementation approach is not. The model must be re-examined and the gaps have to be scrutinized to arrive at a successful model of execution for the youth who is seeking source of income.
 
The goal of creating a skilled workforce has to be coupled with corresponding employment opportunities for the youth, without which it will not resolve the core challenge of unemployment in the country.
 
Keeping in view the gamut of challenges in the skill and livelihood ecosystem, Subhash Chandra Foundation is initiating an effort dedicated to bridge the gap between skilled workforce and job opportunities through Project Samriddh. The foundation envisions to build a network of potential employers who can share their current and future manpower requirement, thereby reducing surplus skilled workforce.
 
The author, Priyanka Dhingra is Lead - Livelihood, Subhash Chandra Foundation.

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