The agenda for skill development in India is all set with several new initiatives and goals. The recently held first meeting of the Governing Council of National Skills Development Mission, under the chairmanship of honourable Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi concluded on the following points:
- Training target – 1.5 crore youth
- Set up Central Board for Skills Certification (CBSC)
- Utilize infrastructure in engineering colleges for skills training
- Profit making PSUs and private corporations must recruit 10% apprentices
- Open 500 Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKK) to provide free training
- Open 50 Overseas Employment Skill Training Centres
- Conduct 500 Rozgar Utsavs across ITIs, CTIs, PMKVY centres
- Hold annual national skills competition ‘India Skills’
- National convocation for successful ITI students
- Enhance ITI capacity from 18.5 lakhs to 25 lakhs
- Establish 5000 new ITIs
- Recognize and promote traditional skills through informal apprenticeships
Skill gaps – tip of the iceberg
Most of the discussion around skill development and training happens around filling and closing the skill gaps. Let’s remember that skill gaps are just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, these gaps are not something to be filled but opportunities to be opened up with impactful training and sustainable employment! There are several critical points that need to be taken into consideration while designing, developing and implementing skill based training. Depending on the context of the training and the profile of candidates we need to consider the following points for a outcome-based training strategy:
Train the trainer: Since trainers hold the key to successful training, they should be trained in latest training methodologies, adult learning principles and industry requirements. Subject experts and industry personnel can also take up the role and responsibilities of trainers, provided they are groomed in the pedagogical aspects of training to complement their subject expertise.
Skill mapping: It is crucial to understand the evolving needs of the industry and map the requirements with training curriculum. These include knowledge, skills and abilities to perform on a job in a particular role. Each industry will have its unique requirements and standards for performance and productivity.
Apprenticeship: With the impetus from the government for apprenticeship, we also need to educate the youth about the benefits of apprenticeship. Of course, the industry has been mandated to increase the number of apprentices while they recruit, but there has to be more awareness about various schemes like Apprentice Protsahan Yojana.
Digital technologies: It’s high time training partners took help from low cost digital technologies, free and open source software and other digital tool to create training content, deliver, manage and monitor training. Particularly, mobile and handheld devices have tremendous scope for being used in training, followup and placement since they ubiquitous and cost effective.
Recognition of Prior Learning – RPL: Since unorganized or informal and unskilled workforce constitute a major section of trainees, it is imperative that various RPL strategies are implemented to access their prior learning. This not only helps in mapping their immediate training needs, it also makes them feel respected for their existing knowledge and skills.
Work integrated training: This can work in two ways: it gives an opportunity to existing workforce to upskill or reskill or it can help final year college students to get appropriately skilled in an industry environment. It helps the industry in identifying the nurturing talent as well as retaining their staff to control attrition.
Counseling: Along with the youth, their parents need to be advised about various options in vocational courses and different possibilities for employment. Without proper counseling people will not appreciate the need for education and training that is more relevant to their needs and would continue to aspire for degrees and certification that may not get them jobs, let alone, realize their talent and potential.
Mobilization: This is a challenge that many training partners are overcoming in their own ways, with unique strategies to create awareness about, skilling, sustained livelihoods etc, particularly in the rural areas. By giving clear information about the benefits of training and trades options, the attention of the youth can be directed towards constructive, socially and financially secure future.
NSQF – QPs and NOS: The National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) along with Qualification Packs (QPs) and National Occupational Standards (NOS) provides a comprehensive listing of compentency levels with knowledge and skills required for various job roles in different industry sectors. It has been mandated that the training curriculum for skill based courses follow the standards as the help map the skills and validate with the needs of the industry.
Degrees in vocational education: Courses like B.Voc and M.Voc are gaining popularity as alternative options for earning degrees through formal education. When tied up with industry-focused practical training and apprentice options, these graduates could set new benchmarks in combining knowledge with skills after passing out of these courses. We need many more college to offer these courses and promote the benefits of integrating skilling with employment and employability.