Can appropriate skilling initiatives rebuild rural India?


Half of the Indian population is expected to dwell in the rural parts of the country by 2050 and a significant portion of the rural workforce will contribute to 70% of the national workforce. It points out the pressing need to provide competent skill training and improve its accessibility to the rural youth. According to the World Economic Forum, an average Indian worker requires 1000 days of skill training to be job-ready by 2022.

With the country seated on a goldmine of raw talent and a majority of the population below 25 years of age, these individuals seeking employment in the upcoming decade need to be nurtured, tutored, developed and added to the ever-increasing human resource pool. Therefore it is imperative that the Indian rural youth be engaged productively and trained in technical and interpersonal skills that cater to the technology-enabled world sporting a hostile job environment. 

Skilling endeavors during the COVID-19 pandemic:

The uproar caused by the unprecedented nature of the viral pandemic has caused skill development centers to impart upskilling education to shut down and therefore caused a crisis in the skilling initiatives. The pandemic-induced lockdown has caused a setback for millions of workers but also created a new pattern of jobs. It requires the rural youth to be trained and equipped with relevant skills that will promote a sustainable livelihood correlating to the emerging trends. 

Though remote education has emerged as the new normal, the crucial challenges that need to be addressed involved internet connectivity, competency of instructors, the preparedness of learners, learning platforms, and the availability of devices. While Skill India is continuously egging skill seekers to utilize the time effectively and engage in the development of new skills, the eLearning aggregator portal of NSDC is dishing out curated courses in conjunction with various knowledge partners to deliver online skilling opportunities. After the COVID-19 crisis is over, these skilling initiatives will prove to be fruitful when the youth will be equipped to adapt to the evolving challenges and fend for themselves. 

How can building a collaborative skill ecosystem prove to be beneficial?

One of the fundamental challenges that significantly affect the efficiency of the skill development program is the lack of awareness and the presence of several Government skilling initiatives. A massive number of stakeholders including the Government, the NGOs, the corporate sector, and the social businesses are operating within a collaborative ecosystem to address the skilling requirements. These needs involve the competency-based and skill-oriented education and placement, development of capacity, promotion of entrepreneurial activities, and upskilling programs for agricultural and allied practices.

Since the country is enjoying a major demographic dividend, it is essential to empower human capital through skill development and boost the national economy. The CSR teams of the corporate organizations are creating a major impact in empowering the rural youth of the local communities by engaging them in the ITI and polytechnic educations available in the villages. The members of such CSR teams are also providing appreciable counsel to identify their interests, enable various forms of in-demand, relevant skills, and achieve real-world outcomes. 

Illustrations of skill development in rural India:

Skill training centers have been established in various districts of south India by NGOs in collaboration with the social arms of corporate giants. These centers aim to improve the core competency of the youths and enhance their employable status by working on their self-sustainability. Such training centers offer a wide variety of certified training courses in:

  • Electrical 
  • Tailoring 
  • Plumbing 
  • Masonry 
  • Mechanics amongst others. 

These trusts evaluate the candidates through theoretical and practical examinations and offer certificates upon successful completion of the courses. Economic empowerment and developing the confidence of women have also been a critical aspect that revolves around training women between 18 to 30 years of age in certified tailoring courses to enhance their productivity. These programs have seen tremendous success as rural women have established tailoring and embroidery garment units that nurture their entrepreneurial skills and also foster the indigenous artistic heritage. 

Results that point out to the infallibility of the rural skilling initiatives:

Consistent skill development programs in association with training sessions, forums, job melas, programs with partner organizations and the like has seen more than 40,000 rural youths across various villages of Tamil Nadu being benefitted. Out of these, over 90% of youths were employed and enjoyed the upsides of the trusts imparting both soft skill and technical skill training. 

In the end:

The future landscape of the skill development missions for rural India seems prospective, as they can mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic within the immediate coping phase or when the impacted economies start pulling themselves up. The adequate skill training of the colossal workforce from rural India will allow them to contribute significantly to the economy through evolving job opportunities in the MSME, food service, valet service, health, sanitation, and other sectors. Not only will it develop the national economy, but also break the vicious cycle of poverty. 

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