any skill-sets worthwhile of earning employment for its graduates. Therefore, despite having undergone vocational training at fairly substantial costs, the Indian youth is still failing to garner skills for contributing to the growth of the economy; making both the youth and the economy eventual losers.
What, then, is India to do to give a facelift to its skills landscape?
Research has shown that it is a nation’s success or failure in realising the economic potential of young people during this ‘low dependency ratio’ period that can make the difference between sustained and faltering long-term development. Skill upgrade can no longer be ignored if we want to reap the demographic dividend of having a working population of 800 million.
The government is taking some initiatives. The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) are surely steps in the right direction. However, for this effort to be successful and sustainable on a large scale, industry/corporate sector should own the skill enhancement/intervention programmes. Managing such a huge inflow of candidates across domains every year is a gargantuan task. It needs joint efforts from all entities of the skill ecosystem. An effective use of the new Companies Bill mandating corporate social responsibility (CSR) might come handy if only CSR initiatives are result oriented and measurable.
One way to train this deluge of unskilled population is to create a nationwide network of affordable community colleges with courses and diplomas closely tailored to the skilled labour market. In fact, it would be better if the courses in these ‘colleges’ are designed keeping in the mind the needs of the local markets. These would not only help in creating opportunities where people live, it would also check the unsustainable migration to big cities. In rural areas, where poor children are forced to drop out of the education system due to several socio-economic reasons at a very early age, vocational training can be incorporated into post-elementary education. In fact, the government can also consider an ICT-based long-term plan for addressing the skill requirements by involving key stakeholders.
Perhaps a mandate for the industry such as the ‘Companies Bill’ by the major industry bodies in India to work closely with NSDC, NVEQF, along with universities to encourage innovation, help improve skill levels and address employability challenges may solve the issue of skilled workforce in India. In fact, depending on demand, some vocational courses could be converted into full-fledged ITI/diploma