Our country has made considerable progress in the last two and a half decades post liberalisation of 1991. The value of goods and services produced in the country in this period has almost doubled. This indicates how robust our economy has become having the power to lift millions of people out of poverty each year. An estimate by the world bank says that a continuous growth of around 8 % for a period of 30 years can usher an era that is free of poverty in the country. In this endeavour, the biggest resource that has the power to herald better times is the human resource. Not just any kind of human resource but skilled human resource.
Over reliance only on the degree or the qualification will not spell a great future but degree coupled with specific skills will surely manoeuvre us to a bright future. The desired economic growth as stated above is possible when skills are put to use to derive the desired output. For example, securing a regular degree in commerce does not make one an expert at handling affairs of a company, however a skill in digital marketing like managing a campaign, designing posts and launching them on various social media platforms certainly adds value. So, if a candidate has to be hired in the department of marketing in an organisation which candidate should an employer prefer? Clearly the answer is, person with skills not just a degree.
Approximately 62 % of the country’s population is below the age of 35 years. Their aspirations and desires can only be fulfilled if they secure a salaried job or become self-employed. It is estimated that by the year 2025 about 70 % of the population will be looking at greener pastures through well-paid jobs. How do you think they will get one if they do not possess relevant skills for the particular job on offer? In the absence of relevant skills these youth will remain unemployable which will soon turn into big disappointment for themselves and biggest liability for the country. Our formal education system that comprises schools and degree colleges, under the extant set up, do not inculcate and develop professional or technical skills in students. According to me, this is the area we must make considerable progress. In the absence of an exposure to and suitable training on skill development within the formal education system, a student has to seek outside assistance only if he or she understands its importance in the first place. Therefore, it remains a student’s call and largely outside his purview. What about those students who lack awareness in these matters? A complete eco system and an environment of skill development is missing in our country. This could be the reason why our youth have no skills and hence are unemployable. In the absence of skilled workforce, the country will not be able to reap the demographic dividend that we frequently talk about. This would deal a deadly blow to the economy of the country as well as the aspirations of the youth. In the event of skill-deficit in our workforce, our country will remain an ever aspiring global power, never will be able to become one. We need more and more youth that are industry-ready i.e. armed with skills required for the particular job.
The need of the hour is a massive, universal and compulsory enrollment of all youth under the skill development program. Currently, the number of youth requiring skill development is close to 100 million. Once they are suitably trained, this would ensure availability of skilled manpower that will propel the industry to launch bigger expansion plans thus improving its revenue and the country’s GDP as well. Since skill development is directly linked to job opportunities, it will also help in reducing drop out rate among school children. Going forward, the only sustainable model is that where skills are compulsorily imparted at an early stage preferably at the school level, thus obviating the need for any extraneous efforts at a later stage when it is too late.
The ideal situation is that every child, say from class 8 or 10 onwards, is given a choice of choosing at least two skills out of a given list and from then on practical training starts that takes care of development of skills. The skill program should be treated at par with any other subject with regular theory and practical tests. With this the child will be exposed to various type of skills and there will be better chances of his picking them up at an early age. So, by the time a student completes schooling and degree qualification, he or she has the requisite skills to seek appropriate job as well. We must ensure that proper infrastructure is provided so that quality skills can be imparted on sustainable basis. The government can support by way of suitable legislation and providing financial resources. Once this happens, the country’s human resources will turn into asset rather than a liability.