“World Youth Skills Day (WYSD) gives an opportunity to amplify the message and to bring stakeholders together”, says Mr. Siddharth Chaturvedi, Executive Vice-President, AISECT Group and Chairman, CII Bhopal Zonal Council.
Skilling and vocational education are the two streams that have to be included in the formal education system. COVID-19 has added to the challenges of skilling and training the youth as many organizations are in the process of technology adoption for blended learning.
Continuing with the tradition of celebrating WYSD, this year AISECT has organized Kaushal Charcha, a 7-Day virtual event to reiterate the significance of skilling in livelihood enablement and entrepreneurship. We conversed with Mr. Siddharth Chaturvedi, Executive Vice-President, AISECT, and Chairman, CII Bhopal Zonal Council to know how important World Youth Skills Day is, in terms of the post-pandemic scenario.
Below are few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full video on our YouTube channel.
Q: Considering the present context of COVID-19, what is the significance of World Youth Skills Day (WYSD)?
A: World Youth Skills Day was important for AISECT even before COVID-19 as we’re actively involved in skilling for livelihood enablement and entrepreneurship. In the post-pandemic, the pace of innovation and digital adoption has been accelerated over the last few years, and with that, WYSD assumes far greater importance than in any normal year.
Everyone is curious in terms of employability of the youth, blended approach, online learning, etc., all the smaller dimensions are coming together. So, there could not be a better occasion to celebrate WYSD with a virtual series that focuses on apprenticeships, online learning, and discussions on implementing National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
It is also the tool that connects industry and helps in capacity building and crash-course for updates in the skilling ecosystem. While waiting for new initiatives and announcements from our country, we could set up or learn from innovative pilots going on in other countries in the post-pandemic scenario for the employment of the youth.
Register for Kaushal Charcha – A 7-day virtual event series here – https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_URSI9LB_TPi05za9ML0SOQ
Q: Are AISECT’S current activities doing enough to reach out to people in terms of communicating the importance of skilling to become employable?
A: AISECT has covered a good distance from the last five years in this regard. WYSD is like the ‘budget announcement day’ for the skilling ecosystem in terms of new policies. Yet, we have a long way to go in terms of communication.
The significance of any day gives an opportunity to amplify the message and to bring stakeholders together. AISECT has aligned activities and tried to use WYSD to influence a lot of debates in our States where we are operational. Also, to bring out and cover the angles which were not been covered.
For example, AISECT has launched Kaushal Championship where we select ten job roles in which we have State level, regional level, and national level competition with assured jobs and gifts for the participants. In terms of communication, we are yet to see similar events at the State level getting organized.
Q: With the recent change at the Ministry level, how do you foresee the much-needed integration of mainstream education and skills?
A: The change at the Ministry level is a significant signal to the entire direction through which we are trying not to treat vocational training and formal education in silos. This change is a signal in terms of breaking boundaries between these two streams but while implementing things and being inground, skills are all about the attitude and mindset of the students. So, it is very difficult to treat skills and vocational training only with the lens of short-term training programmes with three-month intervention.
It is important for vocational training to run alongside the formal education system in terms of broadening the mindsets of the students and have seen success stories out of the vocationalization of the school education scheme. It started with one state and today, all the students from other states, schools have come together and we have also seen the launch of the Junior Kaushal championship in CBSE schools.
We also have National Education Policy (NEP) which brings formal education and skill development together. It talks about skilling from the sixth standard onwards and mainstreaming vocational education. NEP also focuses on skilling being an integral part of higher education and it sets a target of 50% learners across the higher education institutions to expose towards skill development in few years.
From following the spirit of NEP, which talks about bringing two educational streams together, now is the time it might get implemented and it will be no less than a revolution in the skilling and education domain of India.
Q: What are some of the key initiatives of AISECT that have been innovative in terms of skilling and helping people in employment and entrepreneurship promotion?
A: The one significant change we are driving through is an investment in digital infrastructure in terms of Learning Management System (LMS) and assessment tools etc. Also, we want to identify the job roles and work on content development on those job roles. We can see blended learning is here to stay and we are still running short of good pedagogy-oriented content in the skilling domain. While we might have content in the area of higher education but in the skilling domain, we have a long way to go in terms of content.
I wish to highlight the following key initiatives from AISECT:
- Blended learning: Content development in vernacular languages and investing in digital infrastructure to be future-ready
- Apprenticeship initiative: It is a strong and proven methodology of involving industries and having industry-focused skill development training. Today, we work with the National Apprenticeship Promotion (NAP) scheme in the National Capital Region (NCR) cluster in the South where there are a lot of clients.
- Rojgar Mantra App: The entire area of matching of job sequence with employers and develop Rojgar Mantra as one of the portals which are getting ready for phase-2 operations. This app will be helpful for our students and as well as outside students in terms of job seeking.
Apart from these, we are trying to see what we can do in introducing skills in schools in light of NEP. We are trying to go down to early childhood care and see hands-on learning.
Kaushal Charcha – A virtual event series on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day 2021 – https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/kaushal-charcha-a-virtual-event-series-on-the-occasion-of-world-youth-skills-day-2021/
Q: Can we expect synchronization to happen from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)?
A: CII is a very strong and vocal supporter of skill development from point of view of upskilling and reskilling of existing employees. The need for upskilling and reskilling, especially for the MSME sector is coming out as a strong gap where you need to identify the right interventions and give them the right value for the MSME client. CII is also driving its model career centre where the hiring has started.
CII’s priorities are in the area of livelihood and skills, and in terms of having a better impact through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), I try and act as a bridge between that and work on few action items and implement at least in Madhya Pradesh.
An overall change in terms of District Skill Committees becoming active and demand mapping, now flowing from the bottom-up approach is a welcome step that will solve the problem of aligning a misplaced data set and try to have ground-level data on which policy can be made. So, AISECT is working with the district skill committee to understand the ecosystem and identifying the right set of jobs.
Q: What is your message to youth on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day?
A: We all understand today that it is difficult for someone who graduated during the pandemic. But that should not matter if the students continuously learn. The youth should sharpen their axe by learning a skill and be ready when things get normal. One should keep the curiosity of learning alive and keep learning skills. The youth should try to be engaged in doing digital internships and talking to someone in the corporate sector to get the idea of how things are changing. By continuously adding skills and upskilling whenever required, youth will continue to excel in their careers.