By NewsGram Staff Writer
The driving force for economic growth and social development for any country is skill and knowledge. Nations that possess a high degree of skill are better placed to handle the vagaries of the domestic, as well as the international, labor market.
With India at the cusp of a demographic shift, holding one of the youngest populations in the world, a skilled workforce is the need of the hour.
As per a skill development report, in the next 20 years the labor force in the industrialized world will decline by four percent whereas in India the same will expand by a healthy 32 percent. The dynamic transition in the demographic dividend poses both a challenge and an opportunity and further calls for employing the youth in productive activities.
In this regard, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Skill India Mission, an ambitious skill development programme which aims to train and polish a whopping 150 million people by 2022, is laudable although overtly ambitious.
The programme will further fuel Modi’s other development planks, the chief ones being Digital India, Make-in-India, Swacch Bharat, Smart City, and Namami Gange, as skill is the prerequisite for achieving such lofty aims.
According to the skill development report, it has been estimated that an abysmal 2.3 percent of the total workforce in India has undergone formal skill training compared to 68 percent in the UK.
The skill gap study conducted in 2014 by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), the apex body responsible for bringing forth the arduous task of skill development, indicated an additional net requirement of approximately 12 crore skilled workers in twenty four key sectors.
The 66th and 68th round of the NSSO survey further revealed that out of the total workforce of 49 crore people, 15 crore are in the age group of 15-45. This requires constant mapping of the existing skill levels along with re-skilling to maximize the productivity of the workforce by charting out a feasible livelihood plan.
Moreover, almost 90 percent of the students who enroll in schools drop out at different levels before reaching college. Most of them become unemployable due to lack of requisite skills.
Retracing skill development
Skill development concerns, which have today gained much prominence through political sloganeering, were voiced by the management thinker CK Prahalad almost a decade ago.
After making the Mumbai dabbawalaas ubiquitously famous, Prahalad’s cautionary advice to skill 500 million people by 2022, caught the UPA officials in rapt attention. Subsequently, the Honhaar Bharat campaign was initiated under whose umbrella the National Skill Development Corporation(NSDC) came into existence.
The Confederation of Indian Industry(CII), an association of Indian businesses later started the India@75 programme for bringing about a transformational change in the economy by 2022, the 75th year of Indian independence.
The NDA government then progressed on the foundation laid by the UPA government and formed a ministry dedicated to skill development, although clubbed with the ministry of youth affairs and sports. The mandate of the ministry was handed down to Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
The programme was henceforth renamed as the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015.
Rajiv Pratap Rudy defined plans for skill development, “almost impossible to achieve.” Looking at the immensity of the groundwork required for achieving such a heroic feat, it is not impossible to imagine why Rudy contended with such a candid remark.
According to Dilip Chenoy, CEO of NSDC, 365 million people will be entering the workforce by 2022, almost two times more than the current target of the Skill India Mission.
The workforce in the unorganized sector is ever expanding and the dropout rates in schools stand at a jaw dropping 88 percent. The number of people migrating in search of job opportunities is also increasing by the day, a segment which needs to properly tapped by the government.
Modi’s boisterous calls for the Industrial Training Institute (ITIs) to take up the mantle of IITs to produce skilled workforce needs to be actualized. Abstract declarations of “minimum government, maximum governance” also need to see the light of the day so that the private sector can usher in a skill development revolution.
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