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From Schools, Colleges to Unorganised Sector, Why Employable Skills is the Need of the Hour

By: Dinesh Sood

Last Updated: June 14, 2022, 10:44 IST

The new National Education Policy-2020 (NEP-2020) intends to increase the gross enrolment ratio in higher education including vocational education to 50% by 2035 by adding 3.50 crore new seats to higher education institutions. 
 (Representative image)

The new National Education Policy-2020 (NEP-2020) intends to increase the gross enrolment ratio in higher education including vocational education to 50% by 2035 by adding 3.50 crore new seats to higher education institutions. (Representative image)

All skill development courses at school level must be synchronised with employment for integration between skill providers and industries. There is a pressing need that workers in the unorganised sector have some amount of employable skills

When we talk of skills, we certainly mean making one employable so that they earn their livelihood with ease and decency. According to the National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, we have the target to impart various types of skills to 40 crore people by the end of 2022. So far, around 4 crore people have been trained in different skills. Skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling apart, the shortage of manpower with employable skills remains a serious challenge even now. It is also a huge opportunity for all stakeholders to come forward and arm our men and women workforce with employable skills. It is nothing but aligning the entire skilling ecosystem with the demands of employers.

A mismatch between the needs of employers and the skills of job seekers proves a critical hindrance in carrying out manufacturing pursuits in particular and any other industrial activities in general. There is a huge gap today between the demand for a skilled workforce and their availability in the market. The entire unorganised sector is dependent on semi-skilled or unskilled workers. A minuscule percentage of them are fully skilled and they are always in demand and are well paid as well.

Over 150 million young people in developing countries are skilled but unemployed. According to the assessment of the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy reported in December last year, youth unemployment rates are two to four times higher than adults. Around 33% of trained youth are unemployed as their employability quotient is very poor.

There are multiple repercussions of not having a skilled workforce in adequate quantity to meet the market needs. Quality, quantity and supplies are always a casualty. Because of high competition from global players, we cannot compromise the quality and content under any circumstances. As a result, the production cost goes up since more time is consumed by the semi-skilled workforce in delivering the final factory yields. Even they need proper training and handholding to operate machines.

Thus, the lack of required skills among job seekers is a double whammy for industries. They do not get value for the investments they make nor does the workforce available in the market have prospects of growth.

Need to Relook

Inadequacies in skills are directly linked to the kind of education that is being imparted right from the school level and the ecosystem we put in place to equip every job seeker with some kind of skills. If someone wishes to be a carpenter, plumber or electrician, he or she needs to undergo at least a globally certified course for which a skill training centre in every high s is required where job seekers should be trained in the fields of their interest during non-school hours.

The high level of unemployment is often associated with the failure of the education system in generating graduates equipped with employable skills. Over 65% of India’s working population is in the age group of 15-30 years. Currently, 90% of the jobs in India are skill-based, a sharp contradiction to the current figure of only 6% trained workforce in the country. Education providers must support students with knowledge and skills relevant to the world of work to make them productive and able to be employed.

All skill development courses at school level must be synchronised with employment for a wholesome integration between skill providers and industries. A multipronged approach is required for curriculum development, apprenticeship and entrepreneurship programmes, and developing a strategy towards skills for employability, which is sustainable.

The new National Education Policy-2020 (NEP-2020) intends to increase the gross enrolment ratio in higher education including vocational education to 50% by 2035 by adding 3.50 crore new seats to higher education institutions (HEIs). Along with an emphasis on a flexible curriculum with creative combinations of subjects, the NEP-2020 also talks of integrating vocational education with mainstream education and multiple entries and exit with appropriate certification. Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs) at par with IITs and IIMs will be set up. According to the NEP 2020, at least 50% of learners shall have vocational exposure through school and higher education by 2050.

It is important to note that the NEP-2020 talks of ‘no hard separation between the vocational and academic streams’. Universal access to all children of the country to quality holistic education including vocational education from preschool to Class 12 should be ensured while allowing for flexibility and choice of subjects.

Since skill-driven industries in the unorganised sector get an overwhelming percentage of workers from rural and semi-urban areas, there is a pressing need to ensure that they carry some amount of employable skills, which will be good for them and their employers. The worker will earn more and lead a better life as they will be contributing significantly to the growth of their employers. It will be a win-win situation for employers and employees as well.

The Way Forward

• Schools, colleges and universities should equip their students with relevant skills, which enhance their employability

• Their curriculum must consist of, among other things, an employability quotient so that every learner has some skills to fall back on

• Youths from Punjab and other states rush to Canada, Australia, the US, the UK and other countries based on the IELTS band, a language test, which does not ensure their employability

• Dual certification of trainers and assessors to match global certification standards

• Sector-wise demand for trainers should be mapped based on trainer-to-trainee ratio and skill gaps

• State government’s employment exchanges should partner with the private sector at the block level to identify labour market demand.

The writer is co-founder and MD, Orane International, Training Partner with National Skill Development Corporation(NSDC), Network Member, India International Skill Centres, an initiative of GoI. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the stand of this publication.

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first published:June 14, 2022, 10:24 IST
last updated:June 14, 2022, 10:44 IST
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