“It is only a matter of time before convergence emerges in the presence of too many players”, says RCM Reddy
The need to provide skills to every individual is important as it helps make the individual’s life more productive and the availability of a skilled workforce helps the society make significant progress. Currently in India the work of a carpenter or electrician is not viewed with much respect. In the West vocational schools are well established and are equipped with robust infrastructure to deliver the right kind of training to make their students highly employable.
So when we talk of ‘skills for all’, it serves the larger social objective of inclusive growth. It helps solve the problem of educated unemployment and the problem of school dropouts not getting any job. Educated unemployment is an important factor that needs to be addressed, because a very large segment of our population, despite getting educated, still finds it difficult to get meaningful employment.
‘Skills for all’ is a multiple stake-holder agenda, involving the skill seeker and his family, the skill provider, employer and policy makers. FICCI, as an industry organization taking ahead its vision of acting as an aggregator, is bringing them on a common platform, developing a common vision, and engaging them in discussions. We are devoting a lot of energy to this.
At an operational level we are working with the following:
- the Government to articulate policies
- the industry, helping it to participate in skill development
- skills providers, assisting them in ITI’s
- international organizations. Because ‘skills for all’ is embedded in the value system of many countries, we are trying to introduce those best practices in India.
In recent times a common question that is being asked is whether too many players are deflecting the focus of the movement.
In my opinion the movement is still at a very nascent stage. Before the Prime Minister gave a call for skilling 500 million Indians, it was the Government which was driving skills development, through its network of ITI’s. Then, various ministries got involved. Today, there are a number of private players who have joined the bandwagon, but we should not be discouraged by the presence of too many players. It is only a matter of time before convergence emerges.
It is optimistic to think that every ministry, and every state will work according to one standard and each player will look into its own objectives.
What is required at this stage is not another organization to oversee the movement but common standards and a vision. This can be done through the National Vocational Qualification Framework (NVQF), stipulating skill level, and integrating it with academic standards. The desired level of proficiency in skills will have to be defined by the industry, with the Sectoral Skills Councils articulating the needs.
Once this system is in place, we can expect a more formalized structure, with vocational skills training enjoying greater respect and acceptability in the society, since there will be scope for vertical mobility for those pursuing skills, and will allow learners to shift from vocational skills training to academics and vice versa.