For the past few years, people have cried themselves hoarse over the demographic dividend India has and the need for massive skill development efforts. Furthermore the lack of skill infrastructure has been time and again highlighted. Though significant contribution is expected from the private sector, the entire skill development initiative is viewed only through the social spectacles and any effort to profit from such efforts considered anathema, at least in circles that matter.
This write-up is our perception of some of the challenges that hinder efforts to provide skill training and thus sustainable careers to the youth of this country. We have also attempted to enunciate some of the solutions.
The root(s) of the problem: So, what is the problem? Why the need to provide skill development training to millions of people that too within a specified time frame? (Mission Five Hundred Million by 2022 is the target set by Government of India). The Indian academic system has its origins in the British system of Education, which was imposed in India when the British ruled the Nation. The need of the hour was for people who could perform a determined set of functions by rote; clerks, accountants, peons and other such office bearers. Get educated and get a job that would ensure survival and a secure way of living. Technology made several traditional skill trades obsolete and craftsmen and artisans declined. All this is old story but please bear with me some more.
In short education became a gateway to a job and secure living. Soon the focus shifted to obtaining certification with or without the concomitant learning. It is sad that education and learning are not viewed as synonyms in our country. With the explosion in technology and business growth around the world and India becoming a key economic player, skilled personnel are in ever increasing demand in Manufacturing, Agriculture and the Services Sectors.
The average age of the working class in many parts of the world has crossed forty and fifty, with the next crop of generation yet to reach employable age. India, on the other hand has a majority of its population under the age of thirty-five with up to seventy percent of the population expected to reach the prime employable age by the year 2022.
The conventional academic system is complex and mostly focused on creating students with successful certifications rather than skills. It is nigh on impossible to change this system, swiftly. Hence the need for bridge training programs that would qualify candidates better for jobs they choose. This is the problem and the opportunity in skill development training.