• News
  • Columns
  • Interviews
  • BW Communities
  • Events
  • BW TV
  • Subscribe to Print
BW Businessworld

Towards Greater Employability

Photo Credit :

India’s informal sector employs 90 per cent of the labour force — some experts say the proportion is even higher. This is both a boon and a bane. A boon as it provides jobs to many who would otherwise be unemployed. A bane because it competes with the formal sector in the marketplace.

There is often debate about why the formal sector cannot hire more. Armchair experts harp on the fact that more than 80 per cent of the fresh graduates are unemployable. While that might be an overstatement and there might actually be a paucity of jobs, it is true that academics and education administrators need to rethink the supply chain for education and fix the problems that have crept in.

It is time to take a fresh look at the education system and see how it can produce graduates who are employable. This is extremely important given that over the next 10 years an increasing number of youth will join the workforce, and they will have ambitions that need to be met if we do not want widespread social unrest. Also, unless we solve the problem of unemployment, the question of reducing the gap between the haves and have-nots will not be addressed.

Lack of education and skills are issues that we need to address and the faster we do so, the better. And it is up to our education system to solve them. We need to map the available job opportunities across sectors and levels first. We also need to make a conscious effort at improving job markets across agriculture, manufacturing and services.

Only 50 million children get to go through the Class X, XI and XII exams. And only 50 per cent of them eventually join college. If we were to improve the supply chain in education, improve school systems, facilitate loans and assume the pass percentage at 60, then 10 million more children would go to college. Is the capacity that we have created today capable of accommodating them? It will be disastrous for the country if we limit our children’s entry to college because we cannot accommodate them there or restrict their education because we cannot find them a suitable job.

The other problem area is the emphasis on degrees and diplomas. This is a bit of an absurdity because degrees and diplomas do not guarantee employment. We need to find a way out of this impasse and the HRD ministry and AICTE’s framework of integrating skills and education at multiple levels is a great way forward.

Skills enhance employability and help create entrepreneurs who, in turn, create jobs. Focused skill development, with employability as the maxim, is the need of the day. The framework allows a learner to complement competency-based skills with general education at various levels — from early school all the way up to diploma or graduate level.

We need to realise that a number of youths are from financially strained backgrounds and need incentives to pursue skills for employment. Let me suggest a model for our planners. Out of more than 11,500 institutions that we have in the technical education space, even if we select 5,000 under the community college framework for the conduct of vocational education programmes, the opportunities will be immense.

The addition of vocational education to school curricula will lead to an improvement in the gross enrolment ratio and act as a feeder route to colleges. If 100 students are trained in competency-based skills, 50 to a batch, thrice a week for three hours a day for 48 weeks in a year, at least half a million will be trained every year. If each of these students, assumed poor, is provided Rs 50 a day to take care of travel and food for the period of the programme, the grant required will be Rs 720 crore per annum. With the annual grant provided to institutes that train these students estimated at Rs 150 crore, the total project cost will be to the tune of Rs 870 crore per annum. A small sum given the potential benefits.

We need to inspire and engage our youth and build them into a formidable force to pitchfork the economy to a higher plane. This is a win-win for all. 

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 28-07-2014)

Tags assigned to this article:
magazine aicte employment ss mantha magazine 28 july 2014