How Technology Can Provide Strategic Support to Skill India Mission

Bikram Dasgupta, Founder & Executive Chairman, Globsyn Group, talks about how skill development in India faces real questions of prejudice and sustainability and strategies that can help make realize the goal to train 40 crore people.

Given that India is a country where only 2.3% of the working population has undergone skills training as compared to 75% in Germany and 80% inJapan, it was imperative for the Skill Development Mission to delineate a program where the immensity of the challenge could be mapped out. The contribution of agriculture to India’s GDP has fallen from 43% in 1970 to 16% in 2011 and that is largely because of the growth in non-agricultural sectors. The shift in the dependency on agriculture together with an urbanization rate of 2.47% that far exceeds the growth in population is bringing in a huge flow of unskilled labor to the cities who are willing to work in the organized sector but are unemployed because they are unskilled. And these are among the 40 crore people the Skill India Mission seeks to train. As an NSDC joint venture training partner, Globsyn would look at this skilling target more as a comment on the concerted efforts needed for aligning the diverse stakeholders with the Mission - the central /state governments, certification bodies, training partners, industry and trainees - rather than as a numerical figure. What makes meeting the target even more challenging is that there are serious gaps existing on the supply-demand of skilled labor, together with issues related to resource constraints for training capacity building measures. So as a training partner working within a structure which is still being formed, we realize that the figures would have been achievable in a mature market. Only 4.5 percent of the workforce in India are skilled and only 18 lakh enrollments in the past eight months! What are some of the top roadblocks, according to you, to make this skill India mission a reality? What we have to remember about the Skill India Mission is that the skill ecosystem is in its nascent stage and there are issues arising even while attempts are being made to address them. Skills training, ideally, should be embedded in the ethos of a culture where skills are acquired because they are valued. Today skill development faces real questions of prejudice, aspiration, alignment and sustainability. The colleges and universities need to revamp the curriculum to include skills training and the corporates need to be integrated within the system for more enrollments to happen. Besides, a methodical implementation of the Recognition of Prior Learning where skilled individuals are awarded nationally valid skill certificates should also help to improve the numbers. Fundamentally, skilling has to be a part of every stakeholder’s day to day activity and that is how the government had envisaged the Skill India Mission when it came out with the National Skills Qualification Framework or set up the Skills Board. Given the measures taken up including demonstration, exhibition, one-stop-shop to deal with the challenges and more, how much of it is currently tech-driven? The Skill Development Mission is being undertaken in our country where around 54% of the population is below the age of 25, where more than 70% of the people live in the rural areas, where more than 90% of the workforce is engaged in the unorganized sector and where the skills ecosystem is facing stakeholder convergence issues. Given these overwhelming statistics, technology can indeed help in providing strategic support to establishing a self-propelling structure to the skills ecosystem. Technology can act as a great enabler in hastening the systemic changes required to make the Skill India Mission a reality. But having said that, technology penetration and technology adoption for skill development remains a problem. For, our youth in the remotest corners of the country are still unaware of the benefits of skills training and technology can serve to generate interest or create awareness about it. Is technology the only savior, given the situation, to meet the objective by building virtual infrastructure for learning and delivery? Can you draw a roadmap? In the skill development domain, technology acts more as an enabler than as a savior. Virtual infrastructure is not the only issue here. The primary objective is to build a system where the youth aspire for vocational education because there is a framework in place which makes it rewarding to pursue it. Technology can help to create this model where there is a clarity on the profitable options available to an individual for switching over from the unorganized sector to the organized sector of the economy. And that can happen only through explicit campaigns about the far-reaching impact of skills training. I see social platforms playing a critical role here in reaching out to the youth. Automation is being touted as the driver of the next big revolution in India! There is a massive gap between the very concept of skill India and the way digital technologies are being advocated including by government? Automation as a concept thrives on building self-learning algorithms for the IT industry such that artificial intelligence can replace human-centric technical support operations being currently carried out by the BPO industry in India. By definition, therefore, automation could create a churn in the BPO industry in the future, if at all. The skill development initiative in India, on the other hand, has an objective of creating certified, skilled workers not only for the software industry (where automation could play a major role) but across all sectors in various job roles that includes a hairstylist and a plumber. So instead of automation or digitization disrupting skill development, we need to create the fabric where there is a smooth transition of the delivery of citizen services from traditional to digital modes. And we would need skilled human labor to make that happen. Hence, I do not see any conflict of interest between automation and skill development. Can you throw lights on the joint venture between National Skill Development Corporation and Globsyn? What are you supposed to deliver? How far are you on this? Globsyn Skills was set up in 2011 as a joint venture between Globsyn Group and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). Globsyn Skills is one of NSDC’s top ten training partners in the country which provides National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) aligned, Sector Skill Council (SSC) certified skills training to men and women in 20 sectors (including Banking, Retail, Security, Plumbing, Logistics, Beauty & Wellness, Tourism & Hospitality, Information Technology among others) across 21 states in over 500 active centers. So far we have provided skills training to 75000+ youth in India. We have also started to export our faculty to neighboring countries like Bangladesh where they have delivered skills training in IT. As a training partner, we hope that skill development in our country becomes aspirational where there are individuals readily available to enroll for paid programs. Globsyn is still waiting for the skills ecosystem to get integrated where trainees who enroll know that jobs are available for them and corporates who need skilled hands know where to find them. On our part, we have tried to contribute to the ecosystem by creating SkillXchange (a dedicated job portal for skills trainees that would bridge the gap between skills and jobs) and by organizing the National Skills Convocation that seeks to make skills aspirational.


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