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Skilling And Make In India Are Two Sides Of A Coin

The combined CSR spends by PSUs and private firms in FY15 stood at Rs 6,337 crore. The combined skill development investment by PSU and private companies was a meagre Rs 1,463 crore last year

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The challenge is clearly written on the wall. According to the National Skill Development Corporation’s Skills Gap Report 2015, around 120 million additional skilled workers will be required across 24 sectors by 2022.

The combined CSR spends by PSUs and private firms in FY15 stood at Rs 6,337 crore. The combined skill development investment by PSU and private companies was a meagre Rs 1,463 crore last year. From this, it is clear that investments in skilling are very small in relation to the enormity of the task.

While India has a unique advantage, having emerged as one of the youngest nations in the world with millions of new job market entrants each year, there is no getting away from the fact that Make in India and Skilling India have to be the two sides of the coin.

To be fair, the Modi government during the Union Budget 2016 announced a slew of measures for skilling 10 million youth, and for setting up 1,500 multi-skill training institutes with a budget of Rs 1,700 crore.

Skill development is not a new notion for India Inc. But there are larger challenges.

The major challenge which needs to be bridged immediately is the gap between the government and private sector for arriving at common goals. Two, all skill creation efforts in the past have generally been funnelled through multiple agencies having different priorities. The need of the hour is a single nodal agency.

Thirdly, while data says that only 2 per cent of the workers are skilled, this number is misleading as it does not reflect, for example, the weavers of Varanasi, or the diamond cutters of Surat who are highly skilled but not qualified. These groups of skilled workers need certification through learning programmes and government support.

Fourthly, vocational training and schools again have not been the focus of the government and the education system is still creating un-hirable graduates. While some attempt has been made in states like Haryana, scaling up continues to remain a key problem. The question is whether the recently constituted Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) with limited staff and budgets will be able to play this key role of coordination and leadership.

In addition to this, the more than 11,000 ITIs that play a key role in skilling need to be revamped as they are 10-15 years old and the private sector can take this up. In fact, the government has invited the private sector to take over a quarter of these and promised to rework their syllabuses, so that they are in sync with the needs of major industries.

Skill development also needs to address current and future challenges. In a country like India, where millions of rural villages still lack access to basic electricity, kick-starting entrepreneurial activity that encourages ‘Electrification for All’ can offer huge skilling potential.

Also, there is a clear need for an autonomous framework to be introduced to assess quality, comprising all elements of the skilling value chain. The current assessment systems are focused on quality checks (trade tests) during assessment and certification.

Many countries like Germany and China have developed effective models for skill development. Indian companies too are channelising a large part of their money from CSR funds to support skill development by the government. But that is not enough to tackle the enormity of the issue.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Ajay Kapur

The author is MD & CEO, Ambuja Cements

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