Focus on design, else we may create screwdriver technicians in name of skilling

Prime minister Narendra Modi will today launch the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana to mark the World Youth Skills Day. The government has set a target of skilling 40.2 crore people by 2022, under the new National Policy for Skill Development, which will also be formally launched today.

According to Union Skills Development & Entrepreneurship Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy of the targeted population, 54 percent is in the agriculture sector.

Reuters

Reuters

The vision of the skill development policy is to create an ecosystem of empowerment by skilling on a large scale at speed with high standards and to promote a culture of innovation-based entrepreneurship which can generate wealth and employment so as to ensure sustainable livelihoods for all citizens.

It has four thrust areas,and addresses key obstacles to skilling, including low aspirational value, lack of integration with formal education, lack of focus on outcomes, low quality of training infrastructure and trainers.

What really matters is how the government put this into action.

This should be a concern for all players in this area - the government, the industry, the vocational training institutions, trianing providers, assessment agencies, certification providers and student financiers.

What should the policy do to make the policy a success? Firstpost spoke to specialists and analysts, who while welcoming the new initiative of the government, suggested a few measures that the policy could look at and help plug loopholes at the ground level:

1) The government is talking about manufacturing in India. Time it focused on design in India, says G Raj Narayan, Chief Mentor of DRONA and Founder & MD of Radel Group, that delivers indigenous solutions in Aerospace, Defence and Electronics.

"Design has a large and longer impact on what we are manufacturing. When you do that, you are adding in a huge way to manufacturing and using Indian talent. Manufacturing under licence get us nowhere. Then it would mean skilling 1,000 employees in screwdriver technology," he said.

Skilling has to be at a higher level than merely creating technicians. Lack of artistic skill in design and manufacturing is a big gap in India. One of the way to get the youth to be interested in skilling is to introduce hobby courses in school at the high school or mid-level.

"Right now, marks are important for students and parents to get to engineering and medical seats. If skilling hobbies are introduced at the school level, school and college dropouts will be empowered to get a job. Academicians are needed to look at integrating this policy at the school level. All stakeholders should be involved by the government to make the policy a success," Narayan said.

2) The government promotes Make in India. But  it needs to start with ‘Design in India’. Otherwise we will become a nation of ‘makers’ and not ‘creators’, says Ashwini Deshpande, Elephant Strategy+Design, a Pune-based design consulting firm.

"I would like to see Indian products and brands becoming globally relevant and successful. I feel Indian design needs to focus on staying relevant to its audience and not get side-tracked by trying to showcase an outsider’s version of ‘Indian’ design," said Deshpande.

3) For any policy to truly succeed, participation from the private sector is a must - especially from innovative organisations. The government should look at improving the ease of doing business, providing easy access to capital and connecting entrepreneurs to mentors, said Madhur Ramani, co-founder and managing partner, Stratum Consulting, a seven-year-old firm.

The positive impact of this is expected to rub off on both tech and non-tech businesses in the skill development space. Aligning the National Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Policy with the Digital India Policy can lead to a significant boost in online-based / remote-learning based skill development enterprises.

4) Right now the policy only mentions some requirements like mandatory National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) for school level skill programmes. Shouldn't there be any mention of in the National Skills Policy about the interdependencies, asks Gayatri Vasudevan, Co-Founder and CEO of LabouNet Services Pvt Ltd, a social enterprise working towards making the informal workforce of India ‘SkillReady’ in association with the government and with the co-operation of ​​corporates in nearly 40 skills. Right now there is no mention of the ministry of human resources development (MHRD) at all.

The dire need is to create a sustainable ecosystem of skill development and entrepreneurship by involving the industry and the training providers to execute the training plans in rapid and relevant ways. A criticla aspect of this plan is to ensure implementation of NSQF on all fronts across the length and breadth of the country, Vasudevan said.

5) Less than five percent of our potential workforce gets formal skill training to be employable and stay employable. The policy aims at addressing the skill gaps and links skills development to improved employability and productivity to pave the way forward for inclusive growth in the country. Furthermore, it mentions that skills development is a shared responsibility of the government, employers and individual workers, with NGOs, community-based organisations, private training organisations and other stakeholders playing a critical role. "We commit to create over 20,000 skilled and  job ready graduates over the next three years, helping amplify the efforts of the Government as a strategic NSDC partner," pointed out Prem Kumar Seshadri, Chief Mentor, HCL Talent Care.

6) Globally, there is an enormous gap between the skills needed by the industry and what academia is producing, resulting in a deep fracture in the talent supply chain. By 2020, almost 60 percent of India’s population of 1.3 bn will be in the working age group of 15-59 years. If adequately skilled, this demographic dividend could make India a global HR powerhouse, said Ajay Kela, President and CEO, Wadhwani Foundation.

7) The government should deliver the kind of work-ready manpower that corporates require, streamline the various state-level skill development initiatives under one umbrella with set guidelines and common norms, said  Pallavi Jha, Dale Carnegie Training India. "The biggest impact of the policy is seen on the most economically and geographically disadvantaged groups. The policy should achieves scale and speed, while still maintaining quality of content and knowledge transfer," Jha said.