Determining the Challenges to Skill Development in India and Finding the Ways to Handle Them

Indian economy is transforming at a fast rate with respect to its structure, technology, and demography and therefore, the prospective candidates to the labor force should be very skilled in order to be considered employable. About 70 million people of working age are presumed to be a part of the labor force of the country by 2023. This estimation, presented by the Periodic Labour Force Survey of 2017-18 also says that the total workforce will be around 404.15 million of which there will be 59 million people aged between 15 and 30 years. Thus, it has become imperative to reinforce the strategies for boosting the skills of the present workforce along with recognizing the informally acquired skills. At present, our country is drawing unique initiatives for converting the demographic potential into an amazing dividend that can boost the economic growth and development of the nation. Simultaneously, in most of the developed countries, the population that is aging within the workforce offer the scope for the migration of the skilled workforce from India for the benefit of both the nations.

At present, there are 3 major challenges to the development of skill in India: expansion of public sector collaboration within the industry and the private sector, creation of the trajectory for international mobility and most importantly, realizing women’s low participation in the skilled workforce. Here is a brief analysis of how the NSDC or National Skill Development Corporation is approaching them:

The collaboration of industry and private sector:

The creation of various ways for the engagement of the private sector has been a crucial strategy for the country. Different forms of market failures such as information asymmetries have plagued skill development. This means that an individual is aware of his or her skills while an employer is not aware of them. If the employer is equipped with all the information, they would be eager to pay for a skilled person. This can be thoughtfully removed with the recognition of prior learning or RPL. Externalities comprise yet another market failure with respect to skill development. For instance, when a firm is required to spend its resources on the development of the skills of any individual, then the latter might leave the job and look for something new. This means that this process would not benefit the firm which incurred the cost of training but the firm which he has chosen to serve. But workers should have an incentive for investing in their own training through the required apprenticeship as they are the ones who will be benefitted by bagging higher salaries. 

In our country, there are different types of skill development models such as government-aided models which partially or totally subsidize the apprenticeship program, market-led training or apprenticeship and on the job training. The main aim of NSDC was to set up a proper public-private relationship for stimulating the private sector participation in the development of skills. A prime role of the NSDC providing long term developing finance to the various organizations for the development of for-profit vocational training programs. NSDC closely works with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship for the implementation of government-sanctioned vocational training when the infrastructure is developed by private providers and the costs of training are reduced by the government.

It has become imperative to collaborate with the industry for ensuring the quality and relevance of skill training and to build up the proper structure of the institution for achieving the desired outcomes. At present, there are 37 operational sector skills council and over 600 corporate representatives. 

The labor force of the nation aged above 30 years comprises 262 million people of which about 259 is employed and ready for the changes looming large. Our country also has a huge segment of people who pose to be informal workers and they have all the necessary skills which are not properly recognized. The survey conducted by the Centre of Monitoring Indian Economy or CMIE shows that over 390 million individuals have acquired skills informally either through self-learning or learning from their own experience or such other sources. These interventions involve collaboration with the private sector and the industry even when they are an active part of public-funded schemes or programs.

Paving the way for international mobility: 

India is striving to become the capital of a skilled workforce in the world and the creation of structured efforts such as the India International Skill Centre testifies this. In recent times, a new network has been conceived for counseling and guiding the prospective emigrants by focusing on upskilling, skill tests, improvement of language and orientation before departure. Also, the Japanese and Indian governments are collaborating together for implementing the much-awaited TITP Technical Intern Training Program which is an on-job training scheme that offers 3 to 5 years of internship opportunities for foreigners in Japan along with NSDC serving as the implementing organization. Besides these, there have been more instances of technical collaborations with other countries like Australia, UAE, and UK for mutual recognition and benchmarking of standards. For the newly developed markets such as Canada, East Asia, Western Europe, and Australia our country has developed government to government partnership programs for boosting the mobility of both white and blue-collar Indian workers. 

Participation of women in the skilled workforce:

Another challenge in the skill development of India is the low participation of women in the labor force. Statistics show that the total labor force of the country is 395.2 million of which a mere 91.6 million are women. The initiatives of skilling the workforce is associated with a thorough upliftment towards gender sensitization, providing social and economic support and creating the right economic scopes are some of the proven ways of increasing this number. It is also important to provide residential facilities to women, embedding mentoring in the relevant skills program and offering social support through different modules. 

The progress of women in being a part of a skilled workforce has been quite positive. The good news is that over 50 percent of the individuals who are being trained in recent times are women. A large proportion of women are also trained in unconventional roles like computers, hardware, and electronics. Women account for about 40 percent of candidates trained in paid courses. Here also, many women are showing interest in unconventional jobs like organic growers, field technicians, and specialty in automation. Many training providers within this system are now focusing on women and they are offering skill training in areas like financial literacy, web design, entrepreneurship, hardware repair, 2D, 3D designs, software, and farm management. There has also been an exploration of non-conventional trades and projects centering women. 

There are a number of organizations that are stakeholders in the skill development sector. As a result, the employees of such companies are enriching themselves by the knowledge and experience and all these should be utilized for taking the skilled workforce to the next level. Alongside, engagement with the research organization, think tanks and academic institutes to focus on the education and skilling of the labour market should be done for facilitating their capabilities and knowledge.

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