Recently, Ginni Rometty, IBM chief, has said that Indian workforce lacks in skill sets which is why they are left out of the ambit of new-age positions in the job-market. She reiterated on the need to look beyond academic degrees, a practise which is now more of a problem not only in India but globally.
Speaking at a company conference on Wednesday, Ms Rometty remarked, “In India, you have the same issues. Open jobs, (but) no matching skillsets”. “You have got to believe in a few different things than I think you believed in the past. One is to believe that skills are perhaps more important than a degree”. Rometty further added.
Coming amidst reports of growing unemployment among engineers and B-school graduates in India, these remarks hold special significance. Today, young and apparently eligible aspirants of India are often hired with a pay package much lower than others as they lack in employable skills.
Global increase in demand for skilled professionals
Globally there is an increase demand for skilled professionals especially in digital services as because the sector is witnessing stronger growth than usual IT services. Industry leaders predict that digital services will grow from the existing 14% to 38% of the total on IT service spends by 2025.
With Digital India now a reality, industries need employees armed with digital and tech skills. Skill building institutions can play a critical role here to bridge demand-supply gap and help corporates fortify tech expertise. New areas of skills are emerging as we move away from conventional IT technologies like Java and embrace modern cloud-based applications with the prospect of scalability and inter-operability. To help organisations leverage the exponential growth in the market, new focus domains are craeted in training programs, and courses in User Experience, Machine Learning & AI, Microservices, Robotic Process Automation, Cloud & DevOps and Big Data & Analytics are being introduced.
Skill India Mission’ aims to skill more than 400 million people by 2022
The ‘Skill India Mission’ aims to skill more than 400 million people by 2022. Till now, the skill development in the country has primarily been driven by the industry trends. Even though considerable growth has been achieved with significant support from the private sector, it evidently continues to remain a supply driven arrangement. What is needed now is a shift of focus on the industry itself to make the method demand driven in order to bridge the skill gaps.
India will be world’s youngest country by 2020, with an average age of 29 years. The country will also provide nearly 28% of the world’s workforce. These constructive demographics will be an opportunity for India to fill the gap created by nations with ageing population, and emerge as a major player in world business. The way in which India utilises this prospect will decide whether the country will harvest its demographic dividend or not. The Skill India mission aspires to reap this proverbial demographic dividend’ by building skilled workforce and enhancing employability of the current working community.
Industry players initiating skill development programs
However, in the last few years, India has observed major growth in the skill development space. To address the gap in skill requirement industry players both at national and state levels have initiated skill development programs for their existing and future employees by launching skill development training modules or by partnering with skill development organisations.
At present, a host of agencies including 17 ministries, 2 national-level agencies (NSDA and NSDC), several sector skill councils (SSCs), 35 state skill development missions, and several trade and industry bodies are working together to reinforce the national skill development agenda.
Is it enough?
The most essential factor that needs to be addressed is the general understanding of vocational training. Skill development by means of vocational training is yet to attain approval as a viable choice against formal education. It has traditionally been seen as the career option for the less academically-qualified including drop-outs. Besides, the vocational training courses are considered as lacking incredulous as there aren’t enough instances of people bagging jobs immediately after completing such training.
Lack of information about industry requirements and vocational courses available is another issue. The impact of vocational courses in improving one’s career prospects also remains another blurred area. However, the low status associated with vocational trainings and the blue collar jobs thwarts students from taking vocational education. There is hardly any amalgamation between formal and vocational education and those armed with these skills are not rewarded adequately. This creates a twisted image of vocational education and further complicates its acceptance amongst young aspirants.
Awareness generation programmes through an array of media including websites, newspapers and magazines targeted at the youth is the answer to this challenge. This will augment mobilisation and also provide credibility to skill institutes, thus jazzing up the entire vocational system in India.
It is interesting to know that, the Government of India, through DGE&T, already organises an All India Skill Competition for Craftsmen annually to appreciate the trainees and promote a healthy competition amongst the trainees of ITIs/ITCs. Besides, GOI sends skilled personnel to participate in the World Skills Competition, which symbolizes the pinnacle of excellence in vocational training. Time is ripe for more such prospects.
Finally, it is the responsibility of the vocational training institutions to build a positive view about vocational training. Also a steady and resounding push towards creating understanding on branches extending beyond conventional, mainstream careers, including beauty and skin care, banking and aviation and hospitality – is of critical need.