Govt's sharp focus on skill development is improving employability, but employment is still a far cry

On World Youth Skills Day, celebrated on 15 July, the question doing the rounds is: How urgent is the need to skill a growing Indian workforce?

The answer: Our timeline is now!

Let's take stock of the good news first. According to the the fifth edition of the Confederation of Indian Industry's (CII) 'India Skills Report 2018', this year’s employability score reached a new level of 45.60 percent, up by 5.16 percent points over last year’s score. The score suggests that about five out of 10 graduates are employable and are ready to jump into jobs. A rising score is reflective of the efforts undertaken by various stakeholders, including the government, to provide more employable resources to the economy, the survey's results said.

According to the survey, IT and computer science courses have the highest employability rate with 64.5 percent and 56 percent respectively. Engineers were also found to be highly employable at 52 percent and that students’ employability was on the rise in 2017, registering a 13 percent increase from 2016.

The hiring outlook for 2018 is'positive', and is estimated to grow by 10-15 percent over 2017, according to the report. It captured the hiring intent of over 120 employers and reached out to over 5,10,000 students across the country. The survey was jointly conducted by HR technology solutions provider PeopleStrong, skill assessment firm Wheebox, along with Pearson, industry lobby CII, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Association of Indian Universities (AIU).

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters.

Nearly 40 million people have been imparted skills training in the last four years, Dharmendra Pradhan, the skills development minister, said recently. He added that job creation is no more limited to the government -- the regime is facilitating skill development and entrepreneurship, which in turn is creating jobs.

The bad news

Now, is the employment picture as rosy as the findings of the CII report? Not really.

Recently crowned the world's sixth-largest economy, India is at the crossroads and must choose wisely. A few bad moves and the nation's famed demographic dividend could reportedly work against it.

That's because, according to research conducted by the National Institute of Skill Development (NISD), nearly 300 million youth are currently under employed or unemployed, and presently only two percent of the country’s total workforce has undergone skills training.

The once sunrise IT sector has been facing severe challenges globally and in India, with artificial intelligence (AI) taking over several jobs. The forecast is ominous with an analyst forecasting 1.75 lakh to 2 lakh job cuts a year over the next three years.

Though many state governments have launched skill development programs, have they really translated into jobs yet? Skill development has been given a push but that has not resulted in more people getting jobs. According to data received via an RTI query, posted by CNBC-TV18, “In FY17 just over half of those skilled managed to find jobs and in FY18 this fell below 30 percent, meaning just about three out of every 10 people who undertook the Skill India mission in FY18 found a job."

Two sectors where the government has made a big push for training and developing skills has been electronics and IT. In electronics, there was an 11-fold rise in the number of people trained from FY17 to FY18 but, there was only a five-fold increase in jobs with 25 percent of those trained finding placements in FY18, CNBC-TV18 added.

Therefore, the issues at stake are,

A lack of direction: The major issue with the youth, irrespective of educated urban or rural or the uneducated, is the 'sense of self', said Ketan Kapoor, co-founder and CEO, Mettl – an online talent measurement solution provider. Unless the youth are able to figure out their passion and what needs to be done to turn their passion and interests into jobs, there will be a gap in the job market, he said.

Connecting 'the right people with the right jobs' is the need of the hour. Skills and training can go in vain if they are not matched to the right job, said Arjun Pratap, founder and CEO, EdGE Networks, an HR technology solution firms and a product innovation partner of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) of India. "We strive to support the development of skills for various industries and channel the right people into the right job."

Lack of a trained workforce: India currently faces a severe shortage of well-trained, skilled workers. A meager 2.3 percent of the workforce has experienced formal skill training; compared to a drastic 68 percent in the UK, 52 percent in the USA and 80 percent in Japan, according to a document on the framework of the implementation of the National Mission for Skill Development. Large segments of the educated workforce have little or no soft skills, said Pallavi Jha, Chairperson and Managing Director, Dale Carnegie of India and India Futures. Those entering the work force need to be skilled and also exude confidence, empathy and creativity to win jobs and grow their careers successfully.

Lacuna in education: The diversified system of education does not guarantee quality and standards that are recognised internationally. The content of the curriculum can often be outdated, and thus not be in pace with the most recent developments in each field, said Nigel Viegas, Executive Director, Bahrain Institute of Hospitality and Retail. In the digital era, the employment requirements have changed, therefore graduates are now expected to meet and adhere to the same. The gap continues to rise with a deteriorated educational system and negligence or failure to correct it, he added. Another issue with there not being fluency in English language for a large number of students in the Indian education system. Arshan Vakil, Founder and CEO, Kings Learning said that though English is part of a school's curriculum, like any language it needs to be practiced every day to achieve a certain level of fluency. Students put in an effort to pass the subject and learn a bit of reading and writing - but the practice stops in the classroom. They don't end up speaking to their classmates or family in English - and this hinders their language learning. This regular practice is missing from our education system. Schools also lack the environment conducive to English language learning since teachers themselves end up speaking to students their local language - both inside the classroom and outside.

Lack of interest in vocational training:  The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship’s estimate for the number of youth who need skills training is a modest 126.87 million people in 34 sectors, by 2022. Many state government-run vocational training programmes find few takers. “There is only a dismal 35 percent utilisation of vocational training provided by the government in several states,” said Divya Jain, CEO, Safeducate -  a training, skilling and consulting organisation, adding that students largely mistrust the system. Besides, “no one wants to be part of the grind and would prefer doing easier jobs that don’t require much physical labour,” she said. Not many are willing to leave the comforts of familiar environments  and migrate to newer locales for jobs, she added.

Some jobs in demand: Jobs in sectors like retail, insurance, logistics and, sales jobs are in demand, where a large number of youth are found to be employable after they are given a small amount of training. Furthermore, fitness trainers are also in huge demand with the fitness fad catching up with smaller towns. But the issue here, according to Amaresh Ojha, the Founder and CEO of Gympik, is a lack of training. “There is no knowledge of the right kind of training or anatomy of the body,” he said, adding that a good trainer can earn around Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 a month.

Dignity of labour: There is a demand for plumbers, carpenters, but there is lack of interest in those jobs as people find it ‘below their dignity’ to work in those jobs, said Kapoor of Mettl.


Updated Date: Jul 16, 2018 11:36 AM

Also See