“The purpose of my book – RUNway to Skilled India, is to turn demographic bonanza into a demographic dividend. India must join the revolution of reskilling, upskilling, and new skilling”, says the noted educationist and author, Dr. Darlie O Koshy.
To get more insights into his book, to understand the metaphor of RUN better, we interacted with Dr. Darlie O Koshy, DG, and CEO, ATDC. In this conversation, he also throws light upon some of the learning from the ATDC skill development journey, technology disruption post-COVID, and cluster-based skilling. Read on to know more or you can also watch the video interview on our YouTube channel, for which the link is given below.
Q: Could you please elaborate on the metaphor of RUNway, in relation to your book – RUNway to skilled India?
A: The word RUN was used by me metaphorically in 2014. In the event Hunar ki Hunkar, I felt we were going in a unidirectional skilling and needed reskilling, upskilling, and new skilling as an approach. Putting everything into a vanilla flavor is not going to help in skilling. We need to understand that people in the country are at different levels, face different challenges based on the location. We must also acknowledge that skilling is location, context, and industry-specific.
For example, reskilling is required for farm labor or industrial labor when the technology changes and when the tools change.
To address the challenge of increasing the productivity among the workforce, and to match the benchmarks required globally, upskilling is needed. Whereas new skilling is the result of Industry 4.0 combined with the pandemic.
Through this book, I want to convey that, there are RUNways available and we are steadily moving towards it but we haven’t really taken off. This approach of RUN will be helpful in this decade where we are moving from supply-driven to demand-driven, to innovation and creative-driven approach.
Q: How do we hold back the younger generation in the districts through cluster-based skilling?
A: Natural clusters have a great amount of traction because there develops an interlinked ecosystem around them. All the clusters put together; we are referring to about 6000 clusters in approximately 750 districts.
When there is a product-focus with the district as in Uttar Pradesh, it gets much more focussed attention.
The clusters in the country today are gold mines, which have the possibility of reformatting and resetting the skill agenda. And we must be vocal for local, as the Prime Minister has rightly called for.
Focussing on cluster-based skilling will help us in decongesting the metros, to a place where the rural youth reside. Even when we look at the MSME sector, 94% of them are unorganized. These people require a large amount of reskilling.
Government must relook at these clusters and must look at the ways in which they can be taken to other countries. One such step is Geographical Indication (GI). GI is a door to branding across the world. Clusters must be looked at as an important mechanism for skilling in a contextual manner rather than being too general. Local needs are what give the youth the traction for livelihood in that area.
Q: Please share some of the learnings and guidelines for other industry sectors based on ATDC’s skill development journey.
A: In the year 2009-10, when the Integrated Skill Development Scheme was launched by the Ministry of Textiles, it was in the context of technology upgradation. There was a need for scaling up the entire skilling system, which we had to create through SMART – Skills for Manufacturing Apparel through Research and Training.
This was a great learning experience for us. As we realized, there is of greater importance for us to find a local instructor to impart that skill. We started giving training in local languages, along with training in soft skills.
All this gave us a great insight into combining digital learning with classroom learning. We started looking at a high skill – high-value approach. In which we provide them more quality-orientation, productivity-orientation and they are better paid in the long run.
Q: How has technology disrupted skill training in the post-COVID scenario?
A: Technology disruption and lack of physical training have had a lasting impact on students. Digital disruptions may not be completely changing the skill training, but a great amount of leverage can be made with digital transformation.
Earlier, faculty were location-specific, now they are location agnostic. Resource sharing has become much more effective. Since lessons can be recorded, students can always go back and listen to a lecture again. Other tools are keeping track of students in a systematic way, and a greater amount of discipline comes in.
We should look at what kind of model we are seeking. Whether it is an “I” model, where we are going deeper into one skill, or the “T” model. In the TAFRL (Textile, Apparel, Fashion, Retail, Lifestyle) sector, personality development training can be given through digital platforms like YouTube, where we provide them video resources.
We should increase the breadth of an individual’s access to resource material. At ATDC, we are offering mobile and tablets to the students who enroll in one year program, from this year. We want this hybrid approach to be institutionalized.
In the digital world, we can provide orientation to the students on how the program is going to be, which in turn helps in decreasing the dropout rates.
Pure skilling can sometimes reduce the human caliber. Therefore, I have argued in my book that in a digital world, we have to look at possibilities much more than the earlier times. This is the biggest lesson COVID-19 has taught us.
More from ATDC: https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/atdc/
Q: How can the skilling sector grow? Please share your insights.
A: Any sector can grow if knowledge is built around it. Our sector needs to have more dialogue and response to ideas on what is in store, what can be changed, and what can be improved. Youth aspirations have to be taken into concern. The skilling has to be future-ready. Future-ready on the sustainability platform, in the people, planet, and profit dimension.
With disruptions happening around, physical and mental agility and the ability to adapt to these will help us in having a better future.
The purpose of this book is to turn a demographic bonanza into a demographic dividend. India has a great opportunity. Even though India’s working population is 450 million, women’s participation is just about 50 million in that. If we want to improve and increase the participation of women and to make youth stay in the jobs, we must be vocal about local.
If India becomes a part of the World Economic Forum’s Reskilling Revolution Platform, we will become a part of reskilling, upskilling, and new skilling revolution.