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BW Businessworld

Not Just A Degree, You Need Skills Too

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Skill-based education is not a choice but a need in India while the demand for which is still very high the desire to get skilled is low. Learners, parents and society prefer socially acceptable qualifications in pure academic subjects. Youth still incorrectly believe that skill-based education leads to low paid jobs and it is perceived to be meant for only academically weak students, school dropouts and for people in the lower strata.

Industry sectors across the board are facing shortage of skilled talent as there seems to be a skill deficit. Every employer seeks employees who have the skills needed to do a given job. While employers understand that many youth lack technical skills that come with education, training, or previous work experience, they do expect youth to possess work skills and soft skills needed for job success. These include being able to solve problems and communicate effectively with others and assuming personal responsibility for learning and attendance. Regrettably, youth still report to work without these skills. Families who understand what these skills are and help their youth develop these skills, give their youth a real advantage in the job search. Sadly, many youth lack opportunities for work experiences. This is especially true for youth with disabilities and other at-risk and disconnected youth.

There seems to be an existing myth about acceptance of vocational skilled workforce by corporate houses, government bodies, policy makers and the society in general. Earlier there was a mismatch between huge numbers of unemployed youth and vacancies that exist because nearly all our employment opportunities require vocational training but still colleges/schools relied on textbook knowledge. With the government setting a humongous target for skilling and driving industry/academia for the same, it is paving the way for promoting skill building at the grass root level in high schools, colleges and universities to bridge the gap between the skilled new entrants into the skilled workforce vis-à-vis the unskilled ones.

In a nutshell, following ten steps should be a ready reckoner:
S Skills for all, irrespective of age group or socio-economic background
K Knowledge and application of acquired knowledge
I Industry linkages is the founding stone of success of any skill intervention
L Learn by doing in the real work environment
L Last mile access to skills by developing skill development centres in remote locations
Y Youth empowerment
O Opportunities to be leveraged
U Unconventional career options in the vocational education framework
T Training for employability and not for skills alone
H Handholding youth in migration and settlement

We are now all in the process of building a framework between education and skills for youth. Everybody is in the mode for social transformation. HR Managers will cease to look only for people with high qualifications. There will be a standardised way of assessing people. Industry will no longer draw career plans for every person who comes to get skilled. Every individual joining an organization will not be expected to come with knowledge/skills on a platter.

Skill based education cannot be necessarily taught on a piece of paper or in a classroom – it needs life, passion and energy from the stakeholders for it to become a reality.

Duggal is CEO & Director, Centum Learning