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Can skill development reduce unemployment?

The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential; these are the keys that unlock the door to personal excellence.

The definition of 'skill' mainly in India and the world, in general, has changed over recent years.

With regards to the industry and job market, the strong need for skilled workers has overpowered a lot in the recent time period.

As our former president, Pranab Mukherjee stated once, "We often boast about India's demographic dividend. But the question that arises is what we do with this if we cannot skill them if we cannot educate them and cannot enhance their employability."

In the recent context to increasing globalization rate, the demand for skilled and multi-skilled workers has increased. India is relatively young as a nation with an approximate 28 million youth population added annually. More than 50 percent of India’s population is below the age of 25 and more than 65 percent are aged below 35. Hence, we can assume that in 2020, the average age of an Indian will be expectedly 29 years, while it will be 37 for China or 48 for Japan.

Therefore, in the context of the developing countries, like India, there is a critical need for quality skill development and training.

Integration of proper skill development and education is our first step taken, to achieve our goal of making India the skill capital of the world otherwise, skill development would remain a dream if carried out in isolation through private centers alone.

Imparting various extracurricular activities in schools alongside academics will bring a dynamic change.

It should ideally begin at the age of 10 years, from the sixth standard itself. For example, if a student opts for motor repairing and handling as a skill development course in school, at a later stage afterwards he can opt for a diploma or degree in automobile engineering.

Many more courses in the field of extra-curriculum activities such as Hospitality and Tourism, Handicraft, Healthcare, Photography, IT, Banking etc can be added which will grow a pooled interest among students for learning and improving themselves. The methodology imparted to teach students has to be practical. The learning can only be enhanced if spread through various fields like e-learning, digital or video inputs.

Taking the Indian population under consideration, there is an acute need for training the young workforce, just to shape their abilities in a better way.

Apart from all these, introducing the students to some of the employable skills will also help them prepare to learn how to adapt to real work situations. It will somehow ease their transition phase from being a student to being a professional.

The two major reasons for skill shortage are the faculty and the facilities. For example, the overall teacher faculties rather than only distributing notes should start focusing on the need to teach. The education systems in countries like Germany, Switzerland, USA, Singapore, Japan provide immense opportunities to the students which help them grow move and also achieve their academic aspirations through mainstream education.

The hurdles which the current youth, across the world faces regarding their job and skills are completely different from what their parents faced. Due to the increasing competition in the global economy, industries and firms, the developed and developing countries look for an employee with higher level of skills, who can engage in innovative task and can also improve the quality and services of their company. The Indian youth is the ‘future’ of our country so they should also be skilled enough to create a ‘future’ which they cherish.

Employment, Employability and Higher Education in India: The Missing Links

The demand for labour in India is likely to remain high and robust in the coming years, both nationally and internationally. But this would demand skilled and qualified labour. The employability of Indian youth has emerged as a major concern in recent years. Ironically, it is not just the uneducated and untrained that lack skills but it is also the educated that consistently lie below the required standards. It is with this background that the study focuses on analyzing the growth and changing structure of the Indian higher education system in the light of the education profile of the Indian jobseekers, labour market demands and the employability index for India’s high-growth sectors on the basis of existing skill gaps and suggests a broad pathway to plug in the gaps and missing links. A more robust demand for personnel in technical and professional services and a better employability index for the same sectors have probably led to skewed growth of the higher education sector. The greater challenge is therefore, to prepare our larger lot of the educated graduates from the general education streams for the emerging skill needs of employable youth.

Employability Challenges and Issues in Higher Education

India has a glorious past in terms of Higher Education System, and had world famous universities like Nal­anda University and Takshshila University. As per the recent statistics (2014-15) of Ministry of Human Re­source Development, Government of India, the country has 760 universities including Central Universities, State Public University and Deemed University. There are 38498 col­leges, and 12276 Stand Alone Institutions providing several program like PGDM, B.Tech, Hotel Management, Nursing, Teacher Training and many more.

We have a small number of quality institutions in our country in spite of this much of growth in higher education, and getting admission in these prime institutions is an uphill task. Therefore, large number of self-financed private insti­tutions came into existence, without having basic infrastruc­ture thus compromising the quality of intake of the students and teaching pedagogy. The outcome is, they are providing sub-standard level of education that leads to supply of poor quality of pass out students not able to meet the expecta­tions of the industries. There are several reasons of lower level of quality in higher education, like system/structural issues, unavailability of infrastructure, outdated syllabus and so on. Hence, it creates a gap between higher education and employability.

Higher education plays an important role in terms of eco­nomic development of the country. It supplies trained and skilled manpower to the different sectors of the economy. Out of four major factors of production i.e. men, money, machinery, and material, we may only have competitive ad­vantage over the men i.e. our human resource or manpower, because quality manpower may provide tremendous output. Hence, the development of the country depends on its qual­ity manpower. It is very much important for the government to invest in education, training, and skill development pro­grams as a whole to supply quality manpower in the requisite number to different sectors. At the same time, government must take initiatives to measure and control the institutions providing higher education, training, and skill develop­ment programs to control over the quality supply of skilled manpower.

The term ‘employability’ indicates that a person possess­es skills, abilities, and attributes to get a job, and to be suc­cessful in his profession, which will lead to overall develop­ment of the nation. Candidates must deliver what is expected from them by the industries. It is also expected that higher education should develop employability among the can­didates. Although, education and em­ployability are two separate things, but it has been assumed since long that pos­sessing a higher degree will ensure of getting a good job.

A graduate must possess the subject knowledge as well as the soft skills to qualify the interview. But, the recent surveys (2016) conducted by ASSO­CHAM on employability have depicted a very discouraging scenario. As per this study as many as 97 percent of graduating students in several programs like BTech, MBA and MCA want core function job, whereas merely 3 percent have suitable skills to be employed, and only 7 percent may handle the core function job. This statistics indicates that 93 perecent Indian graduates, who possess professional degrees at higher level but lack in employability skills. Further, these students do not play any role in Indian economy. This monu­mental gap may be improved with the help of promotion of skill-based educa­tion at higher level. There is huge gap between academic knowledge and ex­perience required at real working life.

The focus should not only give to higher education and skill development programs, but to skill development as a whole for Indian youth. India has entered into the phase where it has de­mographic dividend in terms of work­ing youth in the world. So, this is the right time to promote skilled based programs like short term courses, vo­cational courses and so on. Despite of various initiatives which have been taken up by the Government of India to impart skill development to the youth between the age group of 18-35 years, skilled workforce is only 2.5 percent, which is much lower as compared to the developed countries i.e. between 60-70 percent are skilled.

To bridge this immense gap the role of the private sector is undeniable. Hence, to encourage the private sector to participate in the skill development process, the Government instilled the National Skills Development Corpora­tion (NSDC) in 2009 as a PPP model to fund, enable support services and shape private sector skill training pro­viders. NSDC has affiliated more than 200 training partners to impart skill development all over the country. As per International Labour Organisation (ILO) survey on World Employment and Social Outlook for 2017 has de­clared that the number of unemployed people is expected to rise by 1 lakh in 2017 and another 2 lakh in 2018 in In­dia. Unemployment is the biggest chal­lenge in India along with non-availabil­ity of skilled workers. Though, most of the time, the problem is not the avail­ability of the job, but the mismatch or lack of skills to carry out a particular job. Therefore, it is important to de­velop skilling models, which will not only address the issue of the need for skilled human resources but will also provide employment to the bottom of the pyramid.

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