What is Skill Development, Meaning, Definition, Issues in Skill Development

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India has a huge number of young people as compared to the leading economies of the world where the population is ageing. 63% of India’s population is in the age group of 15-59 years. It is estimated that this working age population will be at its peak around the year 2041 when working age people are expected to be around 60% of the population. If India is able to reap the benefits of this demographic dividend, it would result in great economic growth. If right policies are made in terms of social and economic spheres, so that health and education can be improved, then this young population has the potential to generate enormous wealth.

The most important ingredient required for reaping this demographic dividend is 21st century skills so that these young people can be empowered and their aspirations can be fulfilled. These skills should be imparted to every young person who seeks to be employed after completing his/her academics, irrespective of their caste, class, gender, race, ethnicity, etc.

Present Scenario of Skill Development

Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth. Investments in skilling the young men and women of the country is much better than investments in any other sectors. Unfortunately, at present, only about 4.6% of India’s workforce has received some formal training as compared to the workforce in countries such as Germany where over 75% of people in the total workforce have received some formal training. This value is over 95% of the total workforce for South Korea.

Thus, there is a huge mismatch between skills, academic training, and employment, where employers are not able to discover suitably trained people and youth are not able to find the kind of jobs that they aspire for. According to Indian Skill Report (2019), only 46% of youth graduating from colleges are employable in some sector of the economy.

The ICE 360° Survey on skill level in India classified skills into four types

• Level 1-skills involving simple and routine physical or manual tasks. For eg. hawker, street vendor, gardener, cook, construction worker etc.

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• Level 2-skills involving operations of machinery and electronic equipment. For eg. plumber, electrician, mechanic etc.

• Level 3-skills involving written records of work, simple calculations, good personal communication skills. For eg. clerical, supervisory level etc.

• Level 4-skills involving decision making eg. doctors, lawyers, scientist, engineer etc.

The Survey report states that nearly 56% of the labour market is dominated by people from Skill level 2 whereas about 30% of the people are at Skill level 1 only. Skill levels 1 and 2 are mainly associated with low paid informal sector jobs. The India of 21st century requires higher level skills. Level 3 and 4 skills are associated with higher educational qualifications. But there is also a need to reskill the level 1 and level 2 workers so that they can also align themselves, with the needs of the 21st century. Thus, skilling India requires both-filling the gap in skilling the informal workers and producing more skills required for formal sector jobs.

Changing Employment Scenario in India

India is among the fastest growing economies of the world. India’s economy has changed significantly in the last 20 years. The shift of employment generation is towards the service sector. It is estimated that 110 million additional skilled individuals will be required across 22 key sectors by 2022. Manufacturing would contribute towards half of these additional jobs. The key sectors where additional skills will be required include sectors such as Auto and Auto components, Electronics and IT hardware, Food processing, Healthcare, Tourism, Agriculture, Leather, Capital goods, Telecom, Security, Rubber goods, Textiles etc.

Many of these sectors employ unorganised sector migrant labourers. Formalising these sectors to improve the skills of these workers should be a high priority. The sectors which are growing fast will require new skills that are relevant to the demands of the 21th century.

The sectors which are well established will also undergo transformation and will require newer skills relevant to the demand for these jobs. Most of the employment in India is in the agriculture and informal sector. These two sectors will require upskilling of the workforce on a prioritised basis. In this direction, efforts will be taken by both the Union and the State Governments through their organisations involved in skill development such as Industrial Training Institutes (ITIS), government funded programs like Kaushal Vikas Yojana and privately funded bodies sponsored by the government.

Issues in Skill Development

There are various issues in skill development that need to be resolved. The issues are by

• Skills Mismatch

There is a wide skills mismatch between the skills needed industry to employ the people and skills imparted by college or school education. This is mainly due to the lack of industry faculty interaction that the skills provided by traditional educational and training institutes do not end up suiting industry needs. As a result of this scenario, though people are skilled but they do not get suitable employment in the industry.

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• Insufficient Capacity

The current infrastructure facilities required to skill the youth in India are inadequate. There are not many trained and highly skilled trainers available in the country. There is an urgent need to cultivate highly educated and skilled teachers so that skills can be imparted to the students quickly and efficiently.

•Unorganised Sector

Almost 93% of workforce is engaged in the unorganised sector. Providing skills to these people and mapping their existing skill set is not possible. On the other hand, the rate of job growth in informal sector is estimated to be twice that of the formal sector.

• Poor Quality Skilling Programs

The existing grant based, free training programs available today have their own limitations in terms of quality and employability. The focus is on quantity of people trained as opposed to the quality of training. This leaves essential gaps in skills of individuals who are enrolled in these programs. Many of these programs remain unaligned to demands of the industry. Hence, they defect the objective of skilling,

• No-Industry-Academia Linkages

Efforts in skill development ecosystem have largely been devoid of industry/employer linkages. This has created gaps in terms of specific needs of skills and competency required by the employer and those possessed by the trainee. If industry and academia will not collaborate, it will not be able to fill in the gaps between demand and supply of existing skills.

•Multiplicity of Programs

Skill development programs of the Central and State governments are overlapping with each other. Multiple ministries and departments are engaged in skilling initiatives and it is without any coordination. This lack of coordination has resulted in multiplicity of norms, procedures, curriculum, certifications etc.

• Low enrollment

The enrollment capacity of our skilling institutes is quite large but still there is low enrollment in these institutes such as ITIs and polytechnics. This is due to low awareness among youth about the skill development programs.

Resolving the issues in Skill Development in India

There is an urgent need to impart newer skills to the youth in India. The following measures should be taken to provide skills to youth in new India

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• Enhanced Expenditure on Training and Education Government allocation on education sector is very low. The spending is only 2% of the total GDP as compared to developed countries which sper higher amounts on their education sector. In the long run, only providing skills will not be sufficient. Skilling India will require investment in education and training. Vocational education shall become a part of education system itself so that the younger students can be provided and introduced to the industry relevant skills in their lives earlier.

•Providing Training to the Trainers

India needs expert and efficient trainers that can provide skills to the youth. India lacks trained professional trainers that becomes a major hinderance in skilling youth. Teacher training programs should be started both at the central as well as the state level so that well trained skill providers can be produced.

• Skill Survey

A skill survey should be done at the unorganised sector so that the skill deficiencies of our unorganised workers can be measured and the gap can be filled. The skill survey can map the required skills level and accordingly capacity of institutions for planning the skill development programs can be built.

• Increased Participation and Collaboration

Industry and academics should participate and collaborate with each other such that the demand and supply gap between higher education institutions and industry can be filled up. This gap filling and collaboration will ensure that quality of skills can be maintained according to the changing requirements of the economy.

• Women Participation

There is a gender imbalance in the job market both in terms of numbers of individual of both genders as well as their payscale. Skilling India will require enhanced participation of women in skill training institutes. This would ensure that the gender which makes up almost 50% of the population of India does not remain isolated. Thus, women participation should be raised to realise full potential of India’s youth.

Way Forward

Increased participation of stakeholders, mobilising adequate investments, support of the government etc is necessary for skill development. There is a need for coordinated effort from all stakeholders including government ministries at the state and central level, industry, educational and training institutes and students, trainees and job seekers. Newer technologies will surely help in fulfilling the objectives of a skilled India. The movement of skilling India should focus on skilling in emerging technologies to enable India to transition into a global knowledge economy.

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