Skill development is one of the essential ingredients for India’s future economic growth. As India transforms into a diversified and internationally competitive economy, skill development is going to be the defining element in its growth story.
India has evolved as a knowledge-based economy due to the abundance of capable and qualified human capital. However, there is a need to further develop and empower the human capital to ensure the country’s global competitiveness. Despite the stress laid on education and training, there is still a shortage of skilled workforce to address the mounting demands of the economy.
Aware of the urgency of this need, the government is striving to initiate and achieve skill development of the working population via vocational education, skill training and other upcoming learning methods.
Yet, as we have seen through years of umpteen policies, large-scale skill training is no easy feat. Here are 10 challenges that may prove a deterrent to achieving the goal of a skilled India.
1. Shortage of trained trainers
The success of any well-designed skill program depends on the trainer to a large extent. There is a lack of experienced and qualified teachers to train students in vocational skills in India.. In countries like the United States, a degree in Bachelors of Vocational Education (BVE) is often a compulsory qualification for teachers. However, there is no prerequisite for a specific qualification to be a trainer, here in India.
Availability of both trained and motivated trainers is a big challenge. The trainers are either not fully equipped to teach specific topics, such as technical and soft skills, or lack the motivation levels to impart quality training. Only a combination of both will ensure proper training.
2. Lack of infrastructure
Quality training only can be achieved only if there is a balance of both theoretical and hands-on practical experience. The lack of infrastructure often causes a hindrance to the latter. The unavailability of gadgets and technical equipment often stand in the way of quality skill training in India.
3. Outdated curricula
Participation of industry players in the ‘vocationalization’ of education in institutes is low, resulting in outdated curricula being taught. Few students who aspire to join work lack the practical skills and are not fit to be employed. So, they neither have the option to pursue higher education nor look for a job.
4. No mechanism to mobilize students in need
Reaching out to students in need is another major challenge in the skilling space. Many government bodies, institutes and NGOs claim to have a database of such students, but in reality the record of the right students who could be skilled or want to be skilled for jobs is not accessible or is in very small numbers. Also, no portal exists where the students in need could be linked to the appropriate training institute.
5. Knowledge-based education system, rather than skill based
India has one of the largest education systems in the world. This constitutes multiple levels ofeducation, starting from elementary. But this model falls short of providing vocational or skill training at any stage. Even if they have sufficient educational qualifications, the workforce does not have the skill that is required by the job market. Also, universities do not offer subjects linked to vocational studies. This lack of choice at universities discourages students then from later opting for vocational courses.
6. Low social acceptance of vocational training
Neither students nor parents are keen on an additional vocational course in their curriculum, since the present system does not allow vertical mobility. Hence, skills obtained are either obsolete or lost.
7. Little standardisation and credibility of certification
While the government and National Council of Vocational Training and other universities issue certificates for vocational training, they may sometimes lack credibility and in a few cases are also non-relevant to industry requirements.
8. Paucity of information on employment opportunities
There are no platforms or portals that exist to furnish information on job vacancies in different sectors. Also, detailed skill sets required for a particular job are not listed to guide the unemployed youth either to apply, or get an overview of the abilities required for the job.
9. Dearth of government-industry collaboration
The government’s plans to tie up with industry partners through the PPP model haven’t seen the light of the day yet. These partnerships are critical for the success of skill training.
10. Delays in channelizing funds for skill development
In the past years, many policies have been rolled out to fund the government’s skill-training initiative. However, the disbursement of funds has led to the non-implementation of a few of them, resulting in a road-block.
India has the advantage of the “demographic dividend” (younger population compared to the ageing population of developed countries), which can be cultivated to build a skilled workforce in the near future. For any skill development effort to succeed, markets and industry need to play a large role in determining courses, curricula and relevance. For this, employers need to be put in the driving seat, with the government acting as a regulator and not the implementer. The government has taken its step. What is needed is a willingness to act, and to take the difficult decisions that can help realize the ‘Skill India’ dream.
Published in Huffpost (March, 2016)