It is quite apparent. Skill Development, Education System, and Industry can never stand separate, and in case they are made to, none of the domains would produce optimum, or even satisfactory outcomes. The country has separate ministries with capable heads for all the three areas, but unless one compliments the remaining two, success would remain far than accomplished. Economy and society both are a combination of diverse factors that move the wheels, and if any one of the wheel isn’t in sync, the movement stops. Let this be very basic- What good can we fetch by producing engineers for the electronics industry, if the need of this industry is handful when compared with the number of pass-outs? Wouldn’t then it be better to pave way for more IT engineers at a time when India is an IT hub for the entire world? Similarly, when studies and surveys have depicted that the Indian industry would need millions of skilled workers in the upcoming years, should the same old and worn-out system of imparting education be allowed to continue? To realize the promises made to the general public with respect to employment and economy, and to make true the dream, ‘Make in India’ of the PM, it is high time that we consider basics ranging from streamlined vocational educational training to involving business units in the process of skill development of labor force.
We shall assess this in a systematic manner, foremost being the need to recognize the flaws in the present setup. There can be thumbs up for the government’s initiatives in the recent past, the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), an autonomous body to coordinate and harmonize skill development efforts of the government and the private sector, been formed in 2013. National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is an institutional structure to motivate the private sector for skill development and has so far set up more than 1700 centers. Polytechnics and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) are in place, but their limitations with respect to providing diploma courses in conventional disciplines i.e. engineering, electronics and computers is a severe stumbling block when it comes to courses for the youth in new and emerging areas of work. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has been promoting B.Voc. Programs, which shall run parallel to programs like B.A. and B.Com.; however degree colleges did not show interest due to absence of faculty, industry experts and infrastructure. A few efforts are being done by the National Institute of Open School (NIOS) that offers vocational education to general and prioritized groups through study-cum-training centers, and Janshikshan Sansthan (JSS) that aims at enhancing vocational skills and quality of life of wage workers and their families. Then we have many present and projected institutions that run/ will run under their respective ministries, but the issues of lack of awareness of the general public, coordination, and incapacity in capturing modern industry trends stand.
Streamlining of skill development programs and education wing of India has to be paid heed to in light of global best practices in education and vocational training. Countries around the world have recognized the very roots of education and skill development, which rest in changing the norms as per the industry’s demands and trend of economic development. For instance, imparting basic computer knowledge through polytechnics will serve no purpose for an overextended time since the phase of economic evolution has changed immensely in the past few years. Limited contribution of employers, be it in the organized sector or the unorganized one, is troublesome too. Korea interpreted the issue of lack of skill development arrangement in as early as 1970s and hence they imposed in-plant training obligations for large firms; under the Job Skill Development Program run in the country, employers provide training to insured employees assisted by funds from the government. Germany has in place an apt dual system of vocational education that integrates school-based and work-based learning; trainees spend a day or two in vocational school and three to four days at the employer’s place, progress of trainees evaluated by way of final analysis where they show theoretical as well practical knowledge gained, thus making Germany a place with employers and vocational schools having a joint educational and training responsibility.
Many a time, the school as well as the university learning structure in India, and the way we carry out skill expansion for such a large workforce and even large prospective labor force are criticized. Indeed, the government is answerable to both the concerns along with rewarding Indian business houses with skilled personnel through industry’s partaking in the process of skill development. 12 million people are expected to join the workforce every year and by all means such large talent pool has to be sheer capable. Then we know that agricultural growth rate would not cross 4-5 percent hence main part in the economic growth of the country would be played by secondary and tertiary sectors, which in turn need aptly qualified skilled labor. With the ‘Make in India’ dream and acceptance of skill development as a national priority for next one decade, reforms will come only when the government integrates skill development, education system and the Indian industry. Quality of training, trainers, standardization of training process and effective assessment should be paid attention to. Trainers for the skill development mission are to be wisely procured, based on laid down criterions, and the existing ones must be considered with respect to basic instructional skills and know-how of present trends. Along with, training content should pay heed to rapidly changing industrial needs and technology. Should we then not crave for an active partnership between schools, universities, business houses and the government? Indian universities will have to think of Work Integrated Training Programmes (WITP), hence providing learners the opportunity to engage in on-the-job training at the works area of business houses.
Theoretical knowledge alone will hardly serve any purpose. WIPT structure will ensure that students earn while they learn and are motivated towards adopting real challenges and expectations at workplaces. Universities should largely endorse B.Voc programmes and the students must get credits for theoretical classes as well as practical workshops at the industry level, thus fortifying the foundation from the very start. Enhancement of skills of already employed workforce demands such short term courses that cater to the need of specific skill sets required for specific industry. In this scenario, people with nil or partial academic qualification should be targeted by way of giving them credit for the duration of their past employment. Next, specific skill development should be promoted in contrast to general skill training, for say, not all learning basic computers at the polytechnic level can be absorbed; rather skills should be planned for every industry, even for the unorganized sector, for say, plumbing, construction and sewing jobs. Skill development must be disseminated with minimal education criterion for the training-seekers so that education reaches maximum. The partners in skill development should be business houses who should be eligible for CSR benefits for the money spent on training students in-house. It cannot be denied that on-the-job training system would add to the throughput of businesses as well.
All in all, the existing curriculum at the school and university level has to be aligned with existing and upcoming needs of the Indian industry. Certification should be sensible in a way that global universities and employers consider the same, thus opening extensive prospects for students around the world. ‘Make in India’ dream of the Prime Minister not just demands inflow of funds and outflow of products/ services, it asks for quality work delivered in an efficient manner, which is possible when right people owning right job skills are placed at the right places. Lessons alone can serve limited purpose; we all know that half of the degree holders in India remain unemployed. Skill development has to be made broader than the present system of basic accounting and computer lessons; every industry, be it from the manufacturing or services sector, can deliver optimum results when specifically skilled manpower for undertaking tasks is available without problems. Two pre-requisites when ability enhancement is talked about are ‘continuous skill development’ and ‘centralized certification’ of trainings. To summarize, three pillars to a better Indian economy are meaningful education system, robust skill development setup and active involvement of businesses in mentoring the workforce. Existing curses of unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, technical know-how disability and incompetence of our products/ services in global market will then find no place in India.
The present minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship can be seen urging corporate players to partake in the skilling initiatives of the ministry. A tripartite agreement between NSDF, NSDC and Power Grid Corporation of India (PGCI) that will see PGCI contributing CSR funds to national skill qualification framework is the first and foremost of such partnership between government and corporate house. The ministry is also to take care of the implementation of national skill qualification framework in a way that states utilize the funds apportioned for this task resourcefully with nil leakages at even the most basic level. Distinct ministries would undertake skill development in their respective sectors; hereafter coordination and apt supervision would be the sole key to success. Skill development centers cannot be allowed to become a mode of corruptly procuring funds from the government, rather they are to be made the birthplace of able workforce in India. We have seen how data and reports on such activities are forged by supervisors; hence need is to build a transparent and competent reporting mechanism, where details of such centers, trainers, trainees, training modules and work assigned post the completion of training be accessible with ease. Perpetual work prospects i.e. employability of Indian labor force and constant supply of skilled personnel to the businesses is the paramount aim; hence ‘continuous skill development’ is the buzzword. Be it the school/ university education, NSDC, NSDA, NSDF, NSQF, ITIs, polytechnics or the multi-faceted industrial setup of India, all have to come at one place with a single goal of extending quality education and skill development to every Indian citizen and their deployment at suitable place of work.