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Special Content


Volume-37, 9-15 November, 2017

 
 
Creating Skilled Work Force

Lovey Chaudhary

Globalization, knowledge and awareness have deepened the requirement for highly skilled workforce in developing countries besides the developed ones as it empowers them to fast-track their growth rate higher. For India, skill development is dynamic from both socio-economic and demographic point of view. The skill capacity is assessed in the form of general education and vocational training level of the Indian workforce in the age group of 15-59 and which is found particularly low i.e. around 30% of the workforce is not literate, 25% consist of below primary or up-to primary level of education and remaining 36% has an education level of middle and higher level whereas only 10% of the workforce is vocationally trained (with 2% formal and 8% informal training).
The Government as well as its partner agencies have embarked on various initiatives for the implementation of the skill development system in the economy.
India has seen rapid growth in recent years driven by the increase in new-age industries. The surge in purchasing power has ensued in the mandate for an innovative level of quality of service. Yet, there is a rising shortage of skilled manpower in the country.
In view of influx of youth from rural areas to populous urban centres. In the wake of the changing economic environment, it is essential to lay emphasis on instilling and evolving the skill sets of the youth of the country.
National Skill Development Agency is boosting innovation in skills development and promoting entrepreneurship in the country. The Ministry of Skill Development and  Entrepreneurship is firm to inspire innovative ideas and modules in skill development landscape and at the same time assist the youth of the country in the skilling and entrepreneurial domain, to translate the vision of the Government into a concrete reality. With focus on self-employment as an essential aspect to job creation, the Government is to set up incubation centres at all districts across the country to train budding entrepreneurs.
Youth is keen to get employment in formal sectors to get full-time employment that bid benefits such as healthcare and paid holidays, instead of jobs in the informal or traditional sectors that may be seasonal.
India's changeover to one of the largest and fastest growing global economies during the last decade has been a remarkable phenomenon. To sustain its growth trajectory, an efficient and continuous system of skill development for its workforce is critically imperative for India.
In order to capitalize the demographic dividend, India will need to empower its workers with the right type of skills. We must ensure the present skill levels of the Indian workforce in the age group of 15-59 years in the form of their general educational levels and vocational training levels.
The drop-out rates of educational institution was estimated to be 50% in the age group of 5-14 years and86% after 15 years of age and in contrast to this the participation rate of the workforce rises rapidly after 14 years of age and it results in a semi-literate workforce which finds it difficult to absorb higher form of skills.
 Over 30% of Indian workforce is illiterate, 25% has education below primary or up to primary level and remaining 36%has an education level of middle and higher level. " 80% of Indian workforce does not possess any marketable skills.
Only about 2% have received formal vocational training and 8% non-formal vocational training, thereby implying that very few new entrants to the work force have any marketable skills as compared to developed economies such as Korea (96%), Germany (75%), Japan (80%) and United Kingdom (68%).
In-nutshell, it can be said that despite making considerable progress in terms of literacy, high incidence of illiteracy cripples the Indian workforce even today. There is urgent need to provid skill to both new and existing workforce. Thus, there is a need for increasing capacity and capability of skill development programs. In this direction, both the Government and its partner agencies have undertaken various measures/ initiatives for the effective implementation of the skill development system in the economy.
Despite various concentrated efforts, there is still a long way to bring the skill development mission to completion due to the presence of certain serious key challenges in the path of the mission.
Demand & Supply Mismatch: The demand made by the industries and supply of labour-force mismatch leads to problems in all types of skill development initiatives.
According to the Manpower Group (USA), in Germany, USA, France, and Japan, the percentage of employers who find it difficult to fill jobs is 40%, 57%, 20% and 80% respectively as compared to Indian employers (67%). Thus an ideal scenario is one in which supply of labour can be transformed into skilled workforce which is easily absorbed by the industrial-sectors. However, in India a small portion of labour force is actually undergoing for formal training. It has been observed that there are more people than the available jobs at the low skills level, while there are more jobs at the high skills level than those available for such jobs. This demand and supply mismatch indicates that there is a serious mismatch between the education and skills that the youth attain and what the labor market demands. Therefore, in order to create a people-centric approach for skill development, it is required that the skill development initiatives need to be coordinated with demand and supply scenarios across geographies, industries and labour markets so that new skills required by industry or changes in supply of labour are speedily adjusted with adequate and efficient training programs.
Geographical Problem: It is another serious problem plaguing the labor market and has a more serious impact in larger economies like India as the geographical set-up or outreach of the people for skills in India are uneven and in dismal share:  The states with much higher economic growth rates have more new jobs with lower rate of labour-force while on the other hand; the states with slower economic growth rates have higher population growth rates with fewer new jobs. Thus laggard states need to rely on migrant workers so as to cope with this challenge.
Majority of formal institutions are located in urban areas as compared to rural areas and even private sector institutions are also reluctant to operate in rural areas. Hence, large proportions of rural population do not have any formal vocational training institutions.
Districts notified as backward have serious paucity of formal skill training as majority of skill development institutions in these locations emphasized only on basic livelihood skills and that is generally provided by NGOs or provided by other agencies as a part of social development programs. Therefore, these types of skills are often not formally assessed and as a result are not recognized for employment by industrial sectors.
A low proportion of the workforce has higher education or any form of skills training. In-spite of massive effort to expand the capacity of providing high-quality formal education or skills training, the workforce is still unable to gain any kind of benefit from the high economic growth.
The need of the hour is to provide quality educational curriculum at all levels keeping in mind skills development also. Hence, the instructional material or syllabus must be prepared jointly by the industry and the educational planners. It should be regularly updated and must include more of practical learning. So that students should imbibe the necessary job skills.
Vocational Training: India is progressively moving towards knowledge economy, where skills are widely recognized as the important lever of economic growth, but the perception about vocational education is still doubtful i.e. it is generally meant for those who fail to get admission in the formal system. Thus, it still needs time to be considered as a viable alternative to formal education.
In India, around 90% of the jobs are skill-based i.e. they require some sort of vocational training whereas in reality only 2% of the population (in 15-25 years age group) is enrolled for vocational training in India as compared to 80% in Europe and 60% in East Asian countries. The current capacity of vocational training is 31 lakh against an estimated annual capacity of 128 lakh workers whereas the overall national target of skilling is 50 core of workers by 2022 i.e. India needs to impart vocational training to at least 300-350 million people by 2022 which is significantly lower than the government target of 500 million.
Moreover, the private sector provide skill training as required by service sector mainly to educated youth and largely in urban areas. Ultimately, hundreds of workers in unorganized sector do not get any kind of skill training which results in low productivity levels and employability gaps among majority of workforce.
Due to lack of awareness about industrial requirements and the availability of matching vocational courses, most of the prospective students in the country do not go for vocational education. Hence, a scalable, efficient and comprehensive vocational training system with proper awareness generation programs is the need of the hour. As these programs help in spreading information about existing skill development courses and market requirements which lead to increase the student enrolment as well as enhance the credibility of vocational institutes. As education and vocational training are the important contributors to overall skill capital pool of an economy. Education provides a base in the form of ability in literacy, numeracy and cognitive abilities and vocational training equips an individual with specific skills. Vocational training is practical/manual in nature in contrast to education which is mostly theoretical in nature. Thus linkages of both serve simultaneously the hand and the mind, the practical and the abstract aspects. Skill development for women: In India, women also form an integral and substantial part of the workforce; but the working percentage rate of women in total labor force is declining.
The under-representation of women in the workforce and results in the wastage of the demographic dividend.
Women in India are mainly concentrated in the informal sector and are engaged in low paid jobs with no security benefits. This represents lack of employment opportunities and skills for women workforce.
Currently, a majority of the female workforce in India is unskilled, i.e. a very low percentage of women have any kind of formal education. In India, around 65% of women in rural areas and over 30% of women in urban areas lacked basic primary school education. In order to unlock the full potential of women workforce in India, the need of the hour is to bring about an employment revolution along with a skill development revolution. Focus should be on women specific policies for their effective participation in the employment market. As it would help India to meet its skilling target and reap benefits of having the largest workforce by 2025.
The need of the hour is to provide quality educational curriculum at all levels with targeting skills development programs. Hence, the instructional material or syllabus must be prepared jointly by the industry and the educational planners. It should be regularly updated and must include more of practical learning than theoretical. So that students should imbibe the necessary job skills as demanded by the industrial sectors.
India is progressively moving towards knowledge economy, where skills are widely recognized as the important lever of economic growth, but the perception about vocational education is still doubtful i.e. it is generally meant for those who fail to get admission in the formal system. Thus, it still need time to be considered as a viable alternative to formal education. In our country, around 90% of the jobs are skill-based i.e. they require some sort of vocational training whereas in reality only 2% of the population (in 15-25 years age group) enrolled for vocational training in India as compared to 80% in Europe and 60% in East Asian countries.
The current capacity of vocational training is 31 lakh against an estimated annual capacity of 128 lakh workers whereas the overall national target of skilling is 50 core of workers by 2022 i.e. India needs to impart vocational training to at least 300-350 million people by 2022. Moreover, the private sector provide skill training as required by service sector mainly to educated youth (especially 12th pass) and largely in urban regions. Ultimately, hundreds of workers in unorganized sector do not get any kind of skill training which results in low productivity levels and employability gaps among majority of workforce.
Due to lack of awareness about industrial requirements and the availability of matching vocational courses, most of the prospective students in the country do not go for vocational education. Despite of various efforts on the part of Government and its partner agencies, the credibility of vocational courses in India is still questionable. Moreover, the low reputation linked with vocational courses and also low compensation levels among people with such skills, prevents the students from taking vocational education as they are not aware on how vocational courses can improve their career prospects.
Hence, a scalable, efficient and comprehensive vocational training system with proper awareness generation programs is the need of the hour. As these programs help in spreading information about existing skill development courses and market requirements which lead to increase the student enrolment as well as enhance the credibility of vocational institutes. As education and vocational training are the important contributors to overall skill capital pool of an economy. Education provides a base in the form of ability in literacy, numeracy and cognitive abilities and vocational training equips an individual with specific skills.
The current situation in respect to the participation of the private sector is as follows:  The private sector is not involved adequately in curriculum development and policy formulation related to educational and vocational training.
Mostly private sector institutes are located in urban areas therefore rural population lags behind. Furthermore, due to high cost of these institutes the weaker or disadvantaged section also unable to get proper skill training.
Hence, strong policy measures and operational linkages are needed to bring together the public and private sector to improve the quality and relevance of training. Placement-linked Challenge: A major problem of India's existing skill (or education) development system is lack of linkages between education and placement of that trained workforce.
In this era of knowledge highly skilled workers who are flexible and analytical in nature are recognized as the driving force for innovation and growth. To achieve this India needs a flexible education system with multi-faceted and highly efficient skill development system. This system must provide linkages between each of its constituents and provide a seamless integration between skill development and employment.
Multiplicity of Institutional Framework : Over the past few decades, India has witnessed significant progress in the skill development landscape as various types of organizations have been set up both at national and at state level.
Around 17 ministries, 2 national-level agencies, several sector skill councils, 35 state skill development missions and several trade and industry bodies comes forward with a view to push the national skill development agenda.
The need of the hour is to focus more on the labour force of the unorganized sector. Though the better and superior skills are essential requirements of the competitive market but practically the unorganized sector do not have the affordability to hire expensive labour of high quality. Thus this conflicting objective can be resolved with an integrated approach that gradually enhances labour quality while maintaining a purposeful balance with the demand and affordability of labour markets. Advancement in the skills over time in association with industrial support leads towards progressive improvement in the overall economic scenario. On one hand availability of workforce with higher skill levels would increase competitiveness of unorganized sector and on the other hand it would benefit the organized sector too as some of the workforce with higher competency may get absorbed there despite having low education levels. Infrastructure Challenge: One of the important requirements for the proper implementation of the skill and training development programs is the availability of the basic infrastructure for the same. It has been noticed that many skill development institutions suffer from lack of proper infrastructure.
Monitoring and evaluation is important in any development plan. Since National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has been structured as an outcome oriented policy.
To ensure that the desired results are achieved on this account, it is necessary that along with monitoring, a quick evaluation of the Programme is undertaken at the earliest possible. Based on evaluation findings, we would be able to take effective measures and fill the gaps in the process.
(The author is a journalist. e-mail : loveeyyy@gmail.com
View expressed are personal.)
Image: Courtesy Google