Skilling Holds Key To Demographic Dividend
Skill and upskill India have been the new catch words of the Modi government. With good reasons too. According To Goldman Sachs, India is projected to become the second largest economy in the world by 2050.The emerging demographic dynamics is a pointer to a youngest population in the world with 64.8% of the Indian population in the work force. Yet as Chandrajit Banerjee, director general CII puts it “Demographics as well as growth figures portray India’s future as perfectly aligned, however, its success is anything but guaranteed.” The reasons are self-evident.
The projected demand for skilled labour will, in times, to come grow manifold widening the gap that already exists between industry demand and availability of skilled labour. Low skills and poor education lead to low productivity especially amongst the marginalized rural poor and women occupied in low productive agricultural activity. Skilling India then also needs to focus on the self employed and the casual labour force both of which are dominated by women. According to a report of Labour and Employment and HRD division of Niti Aayog 56% of the workforce in 2011-12 had basic primary education but 75% of the women work force had low literacy levels- below primary.
An entire ecosystem for skills from educational institutes, industry involvement, trainers and government needs to be put in place. A dedicated Ministry for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has been formed. PM Modi’s mantra of skills, scale and speed for development should give the impetus needed to skilling the country.
Skill development remains the focus area of government policy but if accompanied by entrepreneurial growth it will unleash transformation where women in particular and the people at large will be able to catch fish for themselves on a sustainable basis. Feminine skills are the operating narrative of the 21st century. Also there is no tool more effective than the skilling of women on one hand and fostering of entrepreneurship amongst them on the other.
Women then need to be educated, connected to peers and mentors, have access to entrepreneurship hubs and easy finance. Vocational training (VT) needs to find a place it deserves in the Skill India Mission. CBSE schools and other secondary schools got serious only after 2014 as regards VT. The Industrial Training Institutes, polytechnics have not only to impart quality training but must add practical training as an integral part of the curriculum. Once the trainees are exposed to an industrial environment as is done in China where students in the VT spend one of three years on the shop floor undergoing practical training – Industry will offer jobs readily. For this to happen, the industry too must offer internships and help prepare a competency need based curriculum in VT.
A case in point is the initiative taken by CII Rajasthan Panel on Skill and Education. 46 ITIs were adopted by CII and a uniform implementation code with broad guideline framed. Skill centres have been opened at industry premises. The Mahila Training Institute was adopted by Kamtech Associates Pvt Ltd, a CII member company that has successfully transformed the ITI hitherto run by the government into a Center of Excellence. Some of the skilling modules offered are mechanic electronics, computer operator, commercial arts, fashion technology and many others. Nitin Gupta, director and state head CII informs that since 2009, the ITI boasts of full placement of women candidates – 300 per annum. Leading companies like JCB, Genus, Export houses and IT companies are regular for campus placements.
Gupta informs that since the inception of Institute managing Committee and its transformation as Center of Excellence many national and International dignitaries have visited the ITI.
The bottom line then is to create synergies between all the stakeholders – the government, industry and academia to realize skill India. The National Skill Development Corporation’s campaign called “Hunar Hai To Kadar Hai” will not only make skill development a pivot of growth but will also serve to make VT centre stage in the Indian youth. Once the bias against VT is dealt with there is every reason to hope that the country will have a high performance economy fueled by skilling, re-skilling and upskilling the young work force. If as they say we are willing to walk the talk there is every reason for the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal VikasYojna to realize its mission of skill India.