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‘Need skill based education’
SANJEEV DUGGAL talks to Shalini Saksena about the impact of skill development initiatives in India
How much value does skill carry in the growing Indian economy?
There can’t be a more opportune time to consider how closely a nation’s growth agenda is aligned with the skill-level of its manpower. NSDC’s analysis has projected an incremental skill gap of 240 million across major sectors from 2008-2022. As per statistics, India has a demographic dividend advantage over many other countries because 75 per cent of its population falls in the working age group of 15 to 59 years. By 2050, as per estimates, India’s working population would be in excess of 1 billion resulting in the number of people in the age group 20-60 being higher than what it is today.
India’s education system is also characterised by a high school dropout rate, with as many as 56.8 per cent students leaving school before reaching the qualifying Class X exam. There is a definite a need for skill development to enable this section of society to become employable.
What is the current scenario of skill based learning in India?
Skill based education is not a choice but a need in India where the demand for skilled professional is still very high and the desire to get skilled is low. Learners, parents and society prefer socially acceptable qualifications in pure academic subjects. Youth in the country still incorrectly believe that skill based education leads to low paid jobs and it is perceived to be meant for only academically weak students, school dropouts and for people in the lower strata.
Besides, it is not about skilling alone. Challenge is to create right kind of jobs for which people are skilled.
What were the challenges you had to face while trying to bridge the gap between academia and industry?
Millions of graduates pass out of our universities annually, a rich vein of talent and resource for the industry to tap into. Yet, every year, the gap between offered ability and employability widens and the industry struggles to map the right set of skill sets to the jobs on hand. The result? Relentless training in the required skills to make candidates job viable and a resultant loss of productivity and competitiveness at the industry and the national level.
How do you see the students coping up with both vocational training and academics?
Only 25 per cent of graduates today are considered “employable” by employers. The biggest challenge comes due to lack of employability skills. As a result the individual’s ability to conduct in the work environment in terms of communication, presentation, interpersonal skills, team working, etc does not meet the desired levels. Inculcating employability skills requires a huge task for our education system to bring in the transition in the role from “student” to worker and prepare the candidates for the new working world.
Centum is stepping outside India, what are you expecting?
At present, we are operating across 70 cities in 18 countries of Africa. There we have partnered with various companies like Lafarge, Nakumatt and Airtel among others. We also deal with Governments, as well as companies and international agencies, which run several training programmes in Africa.
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