Skill Development – An Imperative The Need Of The Hour For India’s Youthful, Dynamic Workforce To Transform India’s Fortunes

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        Anita Rajan

The world today is vastly different from what it was a decade  ago. Explosion  of technology has made for a more connected world reducing geographical barriers, giving rise to knowledge economies and creating a highly mobile global workforce. For innovators, the world has become the market place. A significant development in this decade is that the global fulcrum of economic growth has shifted eastwards with the rise of Asian economies. Driven by domestic demand as well as global competitiveness of their industry, countries such as India and China are   drawing global attention and investment. This is coupled with their advantage of having a younger population compared with ageing western populations. Under such circumstances, importance of skill development of this large working population is not a matter of great debate. It is not a choice but an imperative both for the nation and for the individual.

From the nation’s perspective, economic growth is dependent on productivity of industry and its people. People can be productive provided they enjoy good health, have access to quality education, relevant skills, and are made aware of livelihood opportunities presented by the economic growth around them. Countries such as Singapore  and South Korea are examples of success through strategic linking of supply and demand. From an individual’ s perspective, each of us desire a better life; through education and skills training, we wish to be positioned advantageously in pursuit of our dream jobs, earn more money for our own happiness and that of our families. Mere aspiration without skills is like sitting in a jet plane that goes nowhere. Youth with no skills and no jobs leads to social unrest; this is neither good for the individual or the nation. Clearly the importance of skill development is fundamental for both economic and social stability.

sd2That brings us to the question of how can we make skill development effective as a key strategy for national development. With 13 million youth entering the workforce every year, India faces the world’s biggest HR challenge to skill 400 million people by 2022. Skill development has become a national mission with the Governing Council chaired by our Prime Minister. Recently, a Ministry for Skills Development and Entrepreneurship was specifically created to this effect. In order to ensure significant stakeholder collaboration in this national mission, the National Skills Development Corporation, a unique PPP body, was entrusted with driving private sector participation through access to funding.” This institutionalised structure at the apex level is helping drive the ambitious skilling target. Recently, the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) has taken a giant step by signing an MOU with the Directorate General of Training (DGT) under Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), GOI. This will not only break barriers between mainstream education and vocational education, it will also enhance employability. Clearly the government leadership, right policies, industry and training bodies can harmoniously work together to transform the nation.

sd3At the Tata Group, we have also embarked on a journey with Tata STRIVE which is the Group’s wide skilling initiative aimed at skilling youth especially  f rom  disadvantaged communities for employment, entrepreneurship and community enterprise. Operating under the Tata Community Initiatives Trust, the vision is to impact the skilling ecosystem by developing and sharing through partnerships – best practices, process rigour, quality content and innovative technologies that result in effective skilling for livelihoods. With a focus on entrepreneurship as well as employment, we work with partners to deliver job-oriented courses across industry sectors from hospitality to manufacturing, as well as explore local entrepreneurship possibilities.

sd4There is no doubt that young people are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future. But they can transform the future only if they have right skills for a brighter future.

Importance of skill development of this large working population is not a matter of great debate. It is not a choice but an imperative both for the nation and for the individual.

From the nation’s perspective, economic growth is dependent on productivity of industry and its people. People can be productive provided they enjoy good health, have access to quality education, relevant skills, and are made aware of livelihood opportunities presented by the economic growth around them.

Anita Rajan is Chief Operating Officer, Tata STRIVE and  Vice President, Tata Sustainability Group