India’s demographic advantage could make it a “global service provider” for skilled talent

SkillingIndia on November 30, 2012 1 comment
Shrikant Bansal, the Director, Technical of GIZ International Services talks to on global labour market. Excerpts of the interview:

If our young people are skilled appropriately, they would become an asset for the global skills demand & reduce the skills imbalance.” – Bansal

SkillingIndia: What are the factors that are leading to skill imbalances over the world?

Shrikant Bansal: Skill imbalance is closely associated to several factors including young age population, economic conditions, respect for skilled people in the society, availability of skilling infrastructure etc. On one hand, there are a large number of seats lying vacant in well equipped training schools in industrialized countries while on the other hand millions of people have no access to quality vocational training in countries like India. Whatever is the case, scarcity for skilled people is uniformly felt across the world. India has surplus working hands, but does not have enough capacities to train them on need based skills. In developed countries there aren’t enough people showing interest in making a career as a skilled technician. Skills demand is growing everywhere. No country has surplus skilled people. But, countries like India has surplus potential workforce. If our young people are skilled appropriately, they would become an asset for the global skills demand and reduce the skills imbalance. Skilling of a large number of people requires us to focus upon three main aspects. Firstly, we need to create sufficient infrastructure for providing quality training. This means opening of new vocational schools, equipping them with updated machinery and equipments, designing of need based syllabus, recruiting and training competent trainers and establish a system for monitoring and assessment for keeping a check on the output quality. Secondly, we need to build credibility of vocational professions to attract young people into vocational training courses. Thirdly, we need to involve and integrate private sector in skilling. 

SkillingIndia: Even though huge efforts are done to enhance schools and universities, workers in the emerging economies are less educated than those elsewhere. Why?

Shrikant Bansal: It is the question of quality of education and training. The emerging economies try to expand their education and training capacities manifold overnight, which can affect the quality of the output. The point can be exemplified by the spurt of engineering education in India. There is about 250% increase in engineering undergraduate seats in the last four years, from eight lakh seats to 20 lakh seats. But, the facilities for education and research in colleges, availability and competence of faculty, monitoring mechanisms and integration with industries are not getting upgraded at a fast rate. This results in very poor quality of engineering graduates coming out of from the majority of newly established colleges. Similar is the case with vocational training institutions where curricula, lab equipment and trainers are not being upgraded in line with the modernization of technology and the needs of the industry. Although, the people in emerging economies are possessing degrees and certificates, knowledge, skills and attitude; it still leaves room for much to be desired. The implications are disastrous including low productivity and higher wastages, rejection and bad quality of products and services.

SkillingIndia: In the global labour market, how is India competing in terms of skilling millions of new, low-skilled workers in comparison to other emerging economies?

Shrikant Bansal: India has the demographic advantage. Now Indian planners have put attention on this crucial aspect of skilling millions of Indian youths adequately for domestic and overseas labour market. This has certainly given India a winning edge over other emerging economies having surplus labour force. The three tier structure for coordination and monitoring of skills development in India is headed at the apex level by none other than the Prime Minister. The National Skills Development Corporation is created for encouraging private sector participation and providing viability gap support. Sector Skills Councils are being created to coordinate the private sector involvement. National Vocational Qualification Framework (NVQF) is being designed for standardization and vertical mobility of vocationally trained personnel. The need of the hour is to properly implement the well designed policies of the government and monitor it closely for the intended outcomes. The crunching number should not put quality on the back burner. It is possible to design a need based syllabus for skilling a school dropout in six months and make him or her ready for work. The existing vocational institutions e.g. ITIs, ITCs should be capacitated to run in two or three shifts and offer medium duration courses to increase their training capacity by three or four fold. There are already some success stories in this direction. It is required for us to adopt and replicate those successes for wider outreach and bigger outcome.

SkillingIndia: It is predicted that advanced economies will have a rapidly ageing workforce, and retirements will take 12m college-educated workers out of the labour force by 2030. Given the situation, how is India at an advantageous position considering its demographic dividend?

Shrikant Bansal: It is in the long term interest of all advanced economies to nurture and invest in the skilling of Indian youth, who shall become a “global service provider” for skilled workmen for the global labour market. Statistics are available to predict that there will be 45 million surplus of Indian workforce for global jobs in the next 15-20 years. The demographic advantage of India is for the whole world to share. Indian government alone cannot invest and manage the skilling of the backlog, which includes school dropouts, unemployed and uneducated youths, the 18 million new entrants to the labour market every year and the existing workforce without the support and participation of private sector and other developed countries. The only solution for the skill starved countries is to invest in skilling of people where they are available and make them ready for the world market. This requires standardization of vocational qualifications at international level, credible system for assessment and testing and mutual recognition of certification amongst countries. So, our policies should promote and  encourage the overseas institutions and private sector to take part  in skilling of Indian youths, only then we can reach the target of skilling 500 million people by the year 2022 (India @75).

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1 comment

  1. Yes the views expressed are apt and pragmatic. Let us try to build a synergized ecosystem for skilling our young population so that we can bring back laurels of our society, which enjoyed the reputation in ancient days, where our Indian culture was known for the best artisans, sculptors, weavers who weaved sarees that can be kept in the matchbox.




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