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Creating a niche for skilled manpower, is it really a need of the hour?

Indian industry within next 10 years will be facing shortage of skilled man force. The problem of skilled man power still persists, but by 2020 the voids today will swell into an incapacitating factor for India. If the current situation continues, then automobile industry, especially automotive component makers will face a shortage of 35 million trained people; gems and jewellery industry will oversee a shortfall of 4.6 million and the construction sector will witness shortage of 1.4 million skilled labour. The data has been presented according to the estimates of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). Considering that the need of the hour is skill development, NSDC has signed agreements with many credible organisations to impart skills to the youth of the country.

There are three different sectors with a shortfall of about 40 million skilled candidates out of which only around 0.18 million have been trained yet, it’s an area of huge concern. We as partners of NSDC are working relentlessly in the skills space. Since its inception Centum Learning is working at mobilizing, training and placing individuals so that they can lead a dignified life. Government of India has also realized the need for a skilled workforce and has set up various Sector Skills Councils in this regard.

With the deliberations on making India a manufacturing hub there is a dire need of trained and skilled professionals. India is rich when it comes to youth to be trained, but there has to be rural participation as well so that the demographic divide reduces and the skill movement can become mainstream. There is a lot happening to enhance employability skills of youth, but a quantum leap in this direction is still amiss. Though there are discussions in the industry and many sector skill councils are trying to make it big, but somewhere Skills Movement per se is yet to see the light of the day.

What’s causing the bottleneck?

Since 2011 NSDC has been increasing spends significantly on advertising to increase the awareness on the significance of vocational education and thereby reduce the shortage of skilled workforce.

The challenges causing bottleneck are not lack of skill instructors or business models or corporate willingness. The issue at hand is the apprehension that is there in the mindset of people about skilling courses viz a viz mainstream education which can fetch them white collar jobs. On the other hand youth that can be skilled because they have never received much formal education do not ascertain the desire to be skilled; they don’t want to be re-located as they have never ventured out of their comfort zone and hence are hesitant. The mindset is that the standard of living that one aspires for can be achieved through mainstream education only.

If you ask a child as to what his career aspirations are, the answer you would get can be a pilot, an accountant, a fashion designer etc. Repeat the question to his parents as to what they would like their child to grow up and the answer inevitably would be MBA, an engineer or a doctor.

A thoughtfully devised advertising campaign can help change the image of career based on skills, but it’s hard to sustain a product on advertising merely if it does not yield any result. Promises of a better future and a worthy career are to be delivered in practical if we want skill development to be recognized.

An advertising campaign cannot make people hog over heels for skills courses; skills development needs solid base and until an initiative leads sustainable transformation, it will be difficult to change way people perceive skill development.

Vocational employment needs acceptance from stakeholders so that it can become main-stream, a certificate will be no good if it doesn’t fetch any job to the candidate.

What are the apprehensions?

The basic ones that concern youth that are yet to be trained are; where will they relocate and what sort of adjustment issues will they encounter. What about their day-to-day expenses and housing concerns? Is there any job security as skills based courses does not come with recognized degrees? Will there be any health insurance? What about provision of basic health facilities? Does the skill they get trained in provide them with multiple job opportunities if they would want to change in future? If ever they are laid off, will the training go waste or more avenues will open?

Acceptance is the largest issue at hand when it comes to skill development and vocational education. Will the corporate houses, government bodies, policy makers and society in general accept and absorb skilled workforce? Will the shortlisting pattern of the Human Resource department of any organization grow up to the level where not just degrees, but certificates and diplomas are also cared for? Will the job descriptions ever see any change and will the performance be measured on the tasks achieved or the degrees at hand? Will the labour laws be in tune for skilled workforce to motivate recruitment of a trained and certified individual on a permanent basis than hiring them as contractual labour.

Reality bites when these questions are put forth, the answers to these might not be easy. At Centum Learning, we address these questions and very consciously impart skilling solutions starting with mobilizing candidates and ending it with recruitment and post-recruitment support. A nation cannot stand if its youth remains apprehensive and hogged with uncertainties. We need a support system that addresses basic needs of life, a network to share and live in a decent working atmosphere, an ecosystem that respects and accepts those who are skilled in some vocation and an atmosphere where vocational training and skilling is considered the backbone of a powerful nation.

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