Apollo MedSkills has many firsts to their credit in the field of Healthcare skill development. Their exemplary training programs, state-of-the-art infrastructure and technology-enablement demonstrates the preparedness face the challenges of skill deficit in this industry. We caught up with Dr. Srinivasa Rao Pulijala, CEO, Apollo MedSkills to learn more about the opportunities and outcomes of skilling in this sector. Let’s begin with his message on the occasion of the Independence Day.
India is a country with the largest youth population and it is important for us to empower them. The Prime Minister has envisioned four impactful programs: Digital India, Make in India, Skill India and Startup India. Skill India has much to integrate with other programs. On this Independence Day we all should take a pledge to contribute to the Skill India movement and ensure that we are not just addressing the Indian workforce shortage but the global workforce shortage. We are not just making a nation independent but every individual, community and society independent. If we do that, we can definitely become a super power and get rid of the tag of a developing country.
Q: Tell us about the Healthcare industry and the need for skilled workforce ; what are the top job roles in demand?
A: Healthcare is one of the largest industries today both in terms of revenue and also size of employment, one of the biggest challenges that we face here is lack of skilled manpower. And, in a country like India not just shortage of skilled manpower but also lack of infrastructure for healthcare training and skilling is also a challenge. Globally, there is a shortage of about 80 million workforce. India as we talk is short of 6 million paramedics today. If you look at the WHO standards, 2.9 beds are required for every 1000 population and in India, we have only 0.9 beds. In order to meet this requirement, we need to add 1 lakh beds each year both in public and private hospitals. So, every bed needs about 6 – 8 manpower. So 1 lakh beds would need 8 lakhs skilled resources!
For instance, we have 70 million Indians with Diabetes and the number is phenomenally growing each day but the number of trained Endocrinologist’s in India are about 1500, Similarly in Nephrology, about 8 lakh Dialysis take place each day but we don’t have enough number of nephrologists and Dialysis Technicians, so there is a huge skill gap at all levels. Every year about 48,000 doctors pass out but settle in urban India but the bulk of the population resides in rural India so there is acute shortage of doctors in rural areas. The requirement of nurses is also 3 times more than what exists today.
Top job roles in the Healthcare sector
Some of the job roles which are in high demand are Home Health Aides, Phlebotomy, Pharmacy Assistants, Dialysis Technicians, Emergency Technicians, Cardiac Experts. And in our country, the main cause of death is road accidents, followed by cardiac diseases then comes Neurological Diseases etc. This reflects on the shortage. That’s where the Emergency Technicians are in great demand.
We have made many innovations in the curriculum to meet the needs of the industry. We are also starting some next generation programs in the area of HealthCare Artificial Intelligence and HealthCare Data Science from the Industry 4.0 perspective. Data has to be analysed not just for marketing purposes but these can lead to clinical outcomes. Here, we will work with Engineering graduates and also Clinical graduates. This is one of our initiatives for preparing for future jobs.
Q: How is Apollo Medskills attracting, mobilizing and counselling the candidates to show them a career path in the Healthcare sector?
A: We have aligned ourselves to the goals of Skill India movement and our initiatives are integrated with the industry demand. We work with four verticals:
- Government: Through the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) we have been implementing DDU-GKY; we are an NSDC affiliated partner and we also work with Social Ministries.
- Paid and funded courses: When it comes to self- paid and government assisted courses, the students can avail a subsidised loan. This is facilitated by the BC and SC finance corporation and other organizations where they provide loans at 2% – 2.5 % interest.
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): We have started working with companies like Coal India, Apollo Munich, Indian Oil Company and we expect to grow this vertical through CSR initiatives
- International presence – We are closely working with Bhutan, NHS- UK, and with an organisation called Health Education England (HEE) .
Our mobilization strategy is different for different levels of training. We carefully avoid aspiration mismatch as much as possible, because we are dealing with saving lives. Students should have commitment and empathy and the ability to work under stress. We have well -rained mobilizing teams who perform a two – layer screening. First level has to do with the education; anyone and everyone cannot join our courses. Most require 10+2 qualification with Biology as a subject. Second, is the aspiration level that is difficult to measure.
For instance, when students join us, they may not be comfortable to draw blood samples or see many things related to human physiology. They may drop out. Hence, we have created an Aspiration Gauger. The second level screening happens when they come and sit in the class room. Job environment counselling helps them to learn about the challenges they may have to face so we may see some drop outs though our drop- out level is 3 % which is very low. This is not uniform across states. We want to achieve uniformity in skilling across states and we are establishing internal SOPs for this purpose. Attracting students requires some serious and strategic ground work; we use many tried-and-tested and creative ways of announcing our programs in rural areas. Sometimes we have to adopt traditional means to reach out to people.
Outcomes of any skill-based training program
When it comes to showing a career path it becomes a tricky proposition since most of the Skill India programs are placement based, assuming that we take the responsibility of placing them on jobs. I would mention three outcomes from any skilling program: 1. Employment 2. Self – employment or entrepreneurship 3. Career growth. The third outcome usually clashes with the priority of finding a job placement. Annually we train upto 60,000 people. The challenge is sometimes the student wants to go for higher education that creates a problem as we cannot show it as an employment. It’s a paradoxical situation as we have to look at it from the candidate’s aspiration level too.
We are not part of National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) but the concept of apprenticeship is inbuilt in our program. It will certainly help us if we adopt NAPS. However in our industry there is an expectation to extend the incentive to the trainers as well to recognize their efforts and contribution.
Q: What are the programs offered (both paid and free) and how do you align with national schemes like PMKVY and DDU-GKY?
A: We are predominantly into DDU-GKY. We also train medical professionals and place them abroad. The duration of PMKVY is too short and it is an emerging/evolving program. In Healthcare, training programs are of longer duration sometimes. We also have 2-3 year duration programs and offer diploma programs in collaboration with other universities.
Q: What about technology-enabled training and how are you implementing it to reach all parts of India?
A: At Apollo MedSkills, technology is used at every skill life cycle, right from mobilization through training and placement. In mobilization phase, we use Aspiration Gauger and GPS tracking. For training, we have web -enabled classrooms to address the shortage of trainers. We’ve also deployed an LMS called E Medhas built by Microsoft. It is a simple interface and we play content like animation etc. At the placement stage we use a tracker called Healers Ark. Simulation-based training is integrated into many courses and it is part of all our training programs.
Q: Tell us about the impact of your programs, placements and handling post-placement issues like attrition.
A: Impact is of four kinds: 1. Social impact – where the social standing of the family changes since they come from very humble backgrounds.2. Economic impact – After their job Placement about fourteen thousand is the average rise in monthly family income so a strong livelihood impact is there. 3. Academic impact – They are learning from the world’s largest healthcare institution. 4. Financial impact – this is about GDP and the nation and contributing to the tax pool etc. Shortly we will be coming up with a formal study of the impact of our programs at various levels, at a PIA level we are doing it. At a national level NSDC needs to do it.
Q: Being an initiative from Apollo Hospitals, can you tell us more about how it helps skill development, when the industry takes the lead and takes responsibility for training?
A: Industry should come forward and take the responsibility of skilling because there is a tremendous rich experience on how to run Healthcare, how to treat people and how to treat diseases. In fact this applies to every industry and the leaders should carry forward their legacy to help the nation. All organisations are in expansion modes either organically or inorganically. If 20 – 30-% of their needs for capacity building is addressed through skill development, it is a positive step towards development.