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Technical Skillsets Help You Hit The Ground Running

The resume reflects a Master’s degree, but the professional status still reads the same – educated but unemployed. This is story is common to a burgeoning number of students in the country, they are educated but lack employable skills. The high skew towards theoretical education with little or no exposure to practical skillsets has contributed to this scenario.

15 million youth enter the workforce each year but more than 75 per cent of this number is not employable due to deficient skillsets. India needs 700 million skilled workers by 2022 to meet the demands of a growing economy. This imbalance is due to lack of technical and soft skills and it points towards the urgent, growing need to make young Indians job ready, with a focus on young graduates to augment their employability.

India is a young nation with 62% of our population in the working age group and more than 54% of the total population below 25 years of age. We need to make drastic amends to solve the great Indian talent conundrum. To make the most of this demographic dividend that we possess, the first step we need to take is to celebrate skills and accept their need and importance with an open mind, just like China. For instance, the country currently faces a huge shortage of Sales Associates, Computer Operators, Beauticians, Hair Stylists, Medical Sales representatives, Mobile Repair Engineers, Helper-Plumbers, Helper-Electricians, Sewing Machine Operators, Helper-Masons/Bartenders, Painter – Decorators. Yet the scant regard we have for vocational training and skills development has led to decades of neglect of these crafts.

Once this due regard to skills is given, we need to support the technology growth with investment in skills and knowledge to prepare for the future. Revamping the education system can help bridge the talent gap, especially at the college level that forms the first steps into the professional world. Colleges need to collaborate with industries to chalk out a curriculum that entails integrates technological education and advancements.

Technical Education plays a vital role in the development of the country’s human resource by creating skilled manpower, enhancing industrial productivity and improving the quality of life. This helps increase the availability of better talent in the job market. Of among the 7 lakh engineering students that graduate annually, merely 7 per cent are fit for core engineering jobs.  What would also help, would be the providing of training in not just technical skills but also soft skills or communication skills, preparing them to transform into capable workers. Most of the institutions do not prepare the candidates for the new working world, making them struggle while facing the competencies of the professional realm. There is an urgent need to make the graduates job ready with basic skills of inter-personal communication, abilities to speak English, work as a team and possess basic computer knowledge.

Recognizing this need, efforts are being made by the government with positive steps such as National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) and National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF). This will also lead to a paradigm shift in employment from being ‘qualification-based’ to ’skill-based’, making educational institutions focus on imparting skills that lead to employability, rather than merely doling out certificates and degrees. Integrating skills with regular main stream education at schools, will truly change the employment landscape at the most fundamental level in our country. A reinvention will need a vast paradigm shift to develop the tools of change needed to survive in the algorithm age. The demographic dividend if not given the treatment of skills may simply turn into a demographic disaster. The imbalance between the too few skilled workers and fewer jobs for the medium and low-skilled workforce is pointing towards the impending disaster.

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Winning through mobilization

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Winning through mobilization

When I learn about the remarkable transformation of candidates skilled by Centum Skill Development Centers, I am often overwhelmed by the magnitude of value addition in individuals’ lives. This impact cannot be truly captured through a power point presentation or a corporate film or any other marketing material.

Such individuals themselves are the protagonists of their respective stories and are ambassadors of change who have experienced success. They are role models of change for millions of others who are somewhat skeptical about the skill development programmes and therefore are not yet ready to get skilled.

And these disillusioned skeptics form our key audience for all mobilization initiatives! Mobilization is the first crucial step in reaching out to millions of rural youth sensitizing them, convincing them, answering their queries and successfully enrolling them into the training programmes. And yes, it is a herculean task.

In India, it’s easy to sell cricket or Bollywood but try talking to people about skills – you would know you are taking on an uphill task! People here do not want to move out of the comforts of their homes since that would entail not biting into the specific grain of rice that they have grown up with, for lunch or dinner. We know of instances where people have been skilled and hired by companies located a little away from the place of their residence and they left salaried jobs because the food did not suit their palate.

India stands at a crucial stage today… its strong economic growth potential coupled with its youthful population offers a galaxy of opportunities. Mobilizing these trillions of young talent will transform India into a developed country from its status of a developing economy, a tag which has stayed on for nearly seven decades.

By 2020, out of 60 per cent of the total population in the working age group, only 25 per cent would be capable of being hired by the job market. Research shows that economy of small towns is beginning to grow rapidly which in turn requires skilled manpower. However, unlike corporate in towns and cities, organizations in Tier III cities or rural India are often not big enough to hire domain experts like staffing firms, advertising agencies, etc., and do not have deep pockets to hire such services either. Hence, most of these organizations remain understaffed or staffed with not-the-right-skilled people. At times the requirement of manpower may not exist in the main industry but in the ancillary industries but neighbourhood’s youth population are mostly either not aware of it or are ill-equipped to derive benefit from such opportunities.

To meet the rising demand for skilled manpower spanning across sectors, India’s current skills landscape requires a dramatic facelift. We should create a nationwide mobilization movement closely tailored to suit the requirement of the local job market. We need to create job opportunities in places where people live in order to stop unsustainable migrations to the big cities.

Mobilization is a big word. Do we know the kind of effort and mindshare it requires? Despite mobilization being a challenging, arduous and even a life threatening task at times, our teams on the ground work round the clock in difficult conditions to connect with people at the grass roots level. They garner support and organize counseling sessions for the benefit of unemployed youth in the region. The candidates are then screened, batches are formed and training is conducted.

However, mobilization effort doesn’t end with training. Post training, our mobilization teams also work with candidates during placement to assist in relocation and hand hold them during the settling-in period so that candidates are able to settle down comfortably in their new jobs!

However, there is no denying a lot remains to be done in an era of economic growth and technological innovations, when India still lags far behind in terms of skilled workforce vis-à-vis the employment opportunities available.

Having said that, I still feel we have started taking steps in the right direction. Kudos to our mobilization warriors who are the frontrunners of this much needed army of dedicated warriors.

There are a lot of expectations from the new Government. While companies like us will continue to mobilize rural youth from different corners of the country, source and create employment opportunities and skill them, we will look up to the Government to provide the right economic environment for our initiatives to yield dividend.


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