A lot has been written about the skill gap between what the industry wants and what the education system produces in India. Our government has been proactive in terms of planning ways and means to bridge this gap. The country’s present Eleventh Five Year Plan’s (2007-2012) skills development programme plans to increase the proportion of formally and informally skilled workers in its total workforce from a mere 2 per cent now to 50 per cent by 2022. This would mean leveraging our demographic dividend of a young population and creating a 500-million strong resource pool. The new Twelfth Plan estimates the present percentage of formally trained workforce, through vocational education, to be at 12 per cent and plans to increase it to 25 per cent by 2017, adding a humungous 70 million to the formally trained workforce in the next 5 years.
The push to improve quality in ITIs in particular and vocational training in general, moving from a supply-driven to a demand-driven model, has already yielded great dividends, with ITIs in certain belts claiming 100 per cent placement figures. In most other places, though the informal segment of the industry still fills in its workforce needs with fresh hands, these employees with no formal training are then trained on the job. What is of even more concern is the fact that 90 per cent of the jobs are being created in this very informal sector, which is reluctant or underprepared to hire a formally trained workforce. At the other end of the spectrum, the organised sector is still unhappy with the quality of workforce being produced through the vocational system. Employers feel the lack of basic education and the lack of the ability to learn new skills are serious impediments to hiring in these dynamic times. The capacity to produce formally trained employees has increased significantly, but as against the requirement of 80,000 trainers, the capacity to produce trainers remains at 2000; this naturally creates a great strain on the quality of the output of the institutions. It is unviable for the government to create and fund a system that can produce these numbers at the required quality level, and the government has asked the private sector to come forward. A good number of PPP initiatives at this level have already seen the light of day, but a lot more needs to be done, both for the survival of our private sector in this globally competitive economy, and for the greater good of our youth.
We need to look at newer avenues and more efficient models of training. Should we look at shorter courses with more frequent interventions like in China? Some economies have also found success in using the informal sector to train the informal sector. With our informal training sector being as large as it is, does a new avenue lie there? This issue of The Human Factor has gathered the skilled manpower needs in a host of sectors, including agriculture, banking, manufacturing, fashion, health care and education. Skill development initiatives for jail inmates, schemes for the differently abled and special plans for the deprived sections are other interesting sections you must look out for. We hope you find this issue relevant and rewarding. As always, we look forward to your feedback. Happy reading!