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India’s Urgent Need for Skill Based Education

The growth agenda of our country is critically aligned with the skill-levels of manpower available to industry and employers. NSDC figures show us that there is a skill gap of over 240 million across major sectors from 2008-2022. Official and other statistics show that India has a demographic dividend advantage over many other countries because 75 per cent of its population falls in the working age group of 15 to 59 years. As per estimates, by 2050, India’s working population would be in excess of 1 billion. This will result in the number of people in the age group 20-60 being substantially higher. The high school dropout rates of India’s education system has as many as 56.8 per cent students leaving school before reaching the qualifying Class X exam. In order to enable this section of society to become employable, there is an urgent need for skill development across the entire country.

At the planning level, realization has now dawning that skill based education is not a choice but a need in India. The dichotomy of our economy is that, while the demand for skilled professionals very high, the desire to get skilled is low. Pure academic subjects are always more popular with learners, parents and society as socially acceptable qualifications. Most youth in the country still incorrectly believe that skill based education leads to low paid jobs and it is perceived to be meant for only academically weak students, school dropouts and for people in the lower strata. Another aspect of this challenging issue is to create the right kinds of jobs for which people are being skilled. Overcoming these challenges requires the concerted efforts of government agencies and companies operating in the skilling domain working in close collaboration with the other stakeholders in the economy.

Millions of graduates pass out of our universities annually, a rich vein of talent and resource for the industry to tap into. Yet, every year, the gap between offered ability and employability widens and the industry struggles to map the right set of skill sets to the jobs on hand. The result? Relentless training in the required skills to make candidates job viable and a resultant loss of productivity and competitiveness at the industry and the national level.

Only 25 per cent of graduates today are considered “employable” by employers. The biggest challenge comes due to lack of employability skills. As a result the individual’s ability in the work environment in terms of communication, presentation, interpersonal skills, team working, does not meet desired levels. Inculcating employability skills requires a huge task for our education system to bring in the transition in the role from “student” to worker and prepare the candidates for the new working world.

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Skilling in Digital India

The youth living in over 6,40,000 villages of India today, is grappling with paucity of skills and low self-esteem, to the extent that a big Deewar appears to exist between their aspirations and their current realities. Even if these many jobs get created, will we have enough skilled hands to take those jobs? Is the youth in our country willing to get skilled to take advantage of the opportunity that is waiting to unfold? How do we create awareness for skill development programmes in every nook and corner of the country so that the impact is multifold?

Prime Minister’s vision of building a skilled & employable India is one such clarion call to the youth of the country to get skilled, become employable and take charge of their own lives and add to nation’s productivity. Reaching out to the youth and motivating them to get skilled in a sector of their choice is the only way to ensure that our demographic dividend does not turn into a demographic disaster.

We are mustering all resources to become a prime catalyst in delivery & scale-up of Govt’s skilling mission. To achieve this ambitious target millions of people would need to be mobilized. However, It is very important to leverage technology for skill development as numerous innovations in the education technology space are beginning to show potential in improving education and helping address skills gaps.  Technology is growing in every field of life hence, also in the skilling industry as well. Skill development is a complete cycle that begins with assessments, leading to training, and then on to certification, placement, and monitoring and tracking.

Now with PM’s much hyped ‘Digital India’ initiative, digital learning is the only way forward to build a skilled India and achieve demographic dividend which we have envisioned for ourselves. Like foreign countries, India has also evolved in digital learning which we use in building capacity and creating new opportunities. Digital learning is already engaged in helping India build its capacity in world class content, pedagogical intervention and creating more jobs by creating new solutions for skill building at the basic level.  Inspite of the recent war going on about net neutrality, there is no doubt that technology has become an integral part of all curriculum including vocation education. Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi talks about “Digital India” with equal emphasis as “Skilling India” and “Make in India”.  I will give you a live example of how technology is being used in skill development.

In Hisar, Haryana 170 Km from the corridors of power where policies are made, we are running a center where technology & best in class training infrastructure is changing the way people are getting skilled to become job ready. The Skill Development Center is offering candidates courses in Retail, Life Skills and IT Skills under the Deen Dayal Upadhya Gramin Kaushal Yojana of the Ministry of Rural Development. 60 candidates in each batch from BPL category attend this programme which has:

1. Biometric attendance – which students undertake twice every day is improving attendance, preventing spillage and therefore improving learning outcomes

2. Tablets – Tablets which are provided to the students as a part of this programme as per DDU GKY guidelines are loaded with standardized learning content. This is enabling Technology Enabled Learning

3. IT Skills Lab – Besides, IT skills lab at the center allows students to work on the practical aspects related to IT – How to create presentations, how to create a column in MS Excel, how to apply formulas in MS Excel etc

4. Core / Domain Skills Lab

I was totally surprised to find that as many as 70% of my class students, all of whom are from the BPL population are on Facebook and as much as 50% of this from the class operate Facebook on mobile phones.

The scope and work in skilling will remain an ongoing process towards nation building and we at centum are committed to skill 12 million people across 11 states and 383 districts by 2022.

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