Why Is Skill Development Important?

India has a distinct advantage over advanced economies in having a larger percentage of the young workforce and this contrast may become starker in the years to come. However, the developed and the developing economies show a similar trend in the declining percentage of youth joining the workforce (IMF, 2018).

 This trend is attributed to a larger proportion joining the schools in comparison to the previous years, with the emerging economies showing a higher percentage. This is a welcome trend for countries like India where sustained efforts by the successive Governmental and other agencies in the field of basic education and curtailing the child labour have brought positive results.

Education And Employability 

However, for a large chunk of the youth, the lack of basic skills needed for employment after completing the schools or graduation does not present a rosy scenario. Some of the reasons could be a very dismal connection between the formal and vocational education, meagre training facilities, under-qualified trainers and lack of infrastructural facilities (UNDP ) .

These emerging trends, when viewed in conjunction with some recent studies, show that employers have found about 25% of Indian graduates are ‘employable’ in the organized sector. The informal sector that takes care of about 93% of the workforce does not have any skilling mechanism, and largely depends on the skill development taking place on the job.

Skill is the ability to do something well, the current situation calls for a quick reorganization of the skill development ecosystem. It will act as a defining element in India's growth story by becoming an essential ingredient for future economic growth India transforms into a diversified and internationally-competitive economy. If India has to rise as the Human Resource Capital of the world, it needs to appropriately skill its youth bulge and convert this advantage to a dividend.

The Need For Skill Development 

Skill development thus becomes a buzzword for the 21st century. It may require re-defining the relationship of education, employment and skills development. For a large population like India, upskilling of all its youth across the country cannot be accomplished through the conventional education framework. It would ensure the enhancement of the quality of life of a key sector of the population and can be brought about in synergy with the industry. Skill development may act as a catalyst for ushering social equality, a step towards providing opportunities for all and a move towards eradication of poverty.

Government alone cannot accomplish such a gigantic task. Currently, most of the corporate institutions are either investing in existing vocational training infrastructure or setting up their own skill training institutes. While this has resulted in an increase in the number of youth trained in different vocational skills and has complemented the “Skill India” mission. However, there is still a significant number of skilled and unskilled youth who are unemployed. Addressing this issue in a comprehensive manner would call for a concerted effort by the government, private players and the NGOs too.

The concept of skill development involves giving directions through proper training/counselling sessions, to raise the confidence level and linking the earned skills to livelihood opportunities for various sections of the society. One of the most critical points is that there is a dire need to create awareness among the youth on why the government is investing in them and who will be the ultimate beneficiary of the whole process. This requires extensive counselling sessions to make them understand the significance of choosing the right vocational training course, work environment and role of other relevant factors that will impact their lives.

The Essentials Of Skill Development 

However, the operation of the skill training institutes in itself is a specialist job that requires careful consideration over the following critical points:-

 a) Mobilizing the target youth

It is essential to carefully screen the candidates for enrolment in the training institutes by looking into their desire to learn, become financially stable and independent. These candidates should show motivation, positive attitude and to rise despite hardships. It has been observed that the right target audience is not mobilised effectively due to ineffective pitching style of the field staff, wrong selection of community group/locations or lack of adequate branding material in the form of a canopy, pamphlets and mobilisation kits.

b) Counselling and registration of the target youth

Improper counselling of the beneficiary and their parents in the field during mobilisation has been noted as a major cause of candidates dropping out in between the training sessions. These dropouts often turn up for placements after the training sessions are over without understanding the requirement of completing the module.

It is also seen that the zero-fee based model does not attract the right candidature. Courses without any monetary commitment are taken for granted with no regular attendance and seriousness during the sessions.

c) Training and content delivery

Underqualified and inefficient training persons who are incapable of conducting the sessions are a big negative point. Such trainers fail in motivating the candidates and in bringing about any change in the mindset of the students who are mostly from the underprivileged section of the society. Presence of such trainers is a big deterrent and one of the major causes of absenteeism/dropout cases of target beneficiaries.

d) Enabling industry linkages for job placements

Fostering connections with the industry for placements needs careful planning to achieve a regular inflow-outflow balance. This issue becomes more significant on the count that India has more job-ready candidates than the job opportunities.

e) Post-placement tracking

A sudden change of work environments (from informal to formal set up), workload, change of lifestyle, and migration from the home district are some of the critical reasons that often lead towards poor retention and a perpetual cause for concern for the employers. Thus post placement tracking and counselling creates a good synergy between the centre-employer-candidate and inculcates a mutual bond of trust.

Centres running the skill development courses should address these challenges to ensure quality output and proper functioning. The skill development initiative is appreciable, but there is a need for a more meticulous implementation approach. The current model requires a thorough re-examination and plugging of the gaps for providing a sustainable source of livelihood to a large set of the population.

- Meghna Joshi 

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Why Is Skill Development Important? Why Is Skill Development Important? Reviewed by EMN on June 02, 2019 Rating: 5

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