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

Fact 1: In the next 10 years, the shortage of skilled man force, which is a problem today as well, promises to swell into an incapacitating factor for the Indian industry. If the current state of affairs continue, the Automobile and automotive component makers will face a shortage of 35 million trained people, construction will face shortage of 1.4 million and gems and jewellery will face a shortfall of 4.6 million by the year 2022, according to the estimates of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

Fact 2: 1.81 Lakh people have received training under various initiatives till March 2012 as per NSDC numbers. For dissemination of vocational skills on a pan-India basis, NSDC has signed agreements with more than 30 organizations.

3 different industries. Shortfall of 40 million skilled manpower. Only 0.18 million trained yet.

We, as partners with NSDC have been working relentlessly, at mobilizing, training, placing and supporting individuals in the skills space. Even the government of India recognizes the need for a skilled workforce and has been making efforts in this regard.

With the discussions and deliberations happening amongst the powerful about skilling, reducing the demographic divide, about encouraging rural participation to make the skill movement mainstream, about providing employability skills; the achievement so far is not even the tip of the huge iceberg. There is no need to mention that the progress and action is still missing, however, quantum leap in the area of skill movement is yet to see the light of the day.

What is holding us back?

Fact 3: venue of Rs. 100 crore is spent every year by NSDC since 2011 on advertising aimed at increasing the knowledge about vocational education and thereby reduce the shortfall in the number of skilled workforce available in the nation.

The challenges that deployment of vocational skills development is facing are not business models or lack of skill instructors, or lack of corporate willingness or public participation. The core issue is that people are apprehensive about skilling courses and those who can be skilled don’t ascertain the desire to be skilled. The reason behind such an attitude is the social standing of a mainstream white collar career vs. a skill based career and the difference of standard of life one gets to live.

If you ask a child what does he desire to become as an adult, would you expect an ‘Accountant’ or ‘Nurse’ as an answer?

Now repeat the same question to the child’s parents and would you not be surprised if the answer does not include an ‘MBA’ or ‘engineer’?

A thoughtfully devised and implemented advertising campaign will go a long way in changing the image of skills based career as compared to the mainstream career. To provide recognition to skills and skill development in this society, various such steps needs to be taken.

However, it is hard to sustain a product on advertising if it does not deliver what it promises.

By initiating an advertising campaign we cannot expect that the world will change 180 degree and skills would be worshipped. Skill development needs a support of a solid base and until then the initiative will never lead to sustainable transformation.

Vocational employment needs life, passion and energy from the stakeholders so that it can become main-stream; it cannot be sold on a piece of paper or just on any marketing collateral.

There are many relevant questions when it comes to thousands of programs on providing employability solutions and skilling. The basic ones that concern the people yet to be trained are; where will they relocate after they get the training and find a job? What about their living expenses and housing concerns? What about the job security as training can’t provide them with recognized degrees? What about the health amenities and other basic provisions? Will the employers take care of the health insurance? Does the skill they acquire provide them with multiple job opportunities or they are stuck with one? What if they are laid off, will the training go waste in that case?

Another important aspect of being skilled is the acceptance of the skilled workforce by corporate houses, policy makers, government and society in general. While the industry cries hoarse over the data of the lack of skilled labor; is the industry all set to accept and absorb the skilled talent? Are the job descriptions getting changed for the profiles of the vocational training program being offered and is there a management system that keeps an account of their performance individually and as a unit? Are the labor laws set by the court of law tuned to motivate recruitment of a certified and trained individual on a permanent basis rather than hiring them as a contractual labor? Is the modern society that we live in ready to accept the skilled workers equally with people doing mainstream jobs?

Reality bites here, these are the tough questions for which answers may not come straight or easy. At Centum Learning, we address such questions and very consciously impart end to end skilling solutions (starting with mobilization and ending with post recruitment support) to address some of these issues. We are conscious that it is important to address these issues, since a country cannot be built upon the pillars of apprehensions and uncertainties.

We need a support system that addresses the basic necessities of life, a social ecosystem that respects those skilled in vocational education, a network to share and live with and a decent working atmosphere will change the mind-set of people towards vocational training and skilling thereby building a powerful India.

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