India stands at the forefront of renewed optimism amid global economic imbalances, driven by robust GDP growth. In this context, the spotlight returns to initiatives fostering skill development. The imperative lies in the Skill India Mission and nurturing the capabilities of the emerging generation, essential elements in the construction of ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047. The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 underscores the urgency of endowing every youth with skills from their school years, positioning them as pivotal contributors to a revolutionary development paradigm.
The landscape of education has transcended the confines of traditional institutions like schools, colleges, and universities. The expanding horizons of learning, propelled by advancements in the digital realm and the dynamic market, have broadened the scope significantly. The acquisition of skills aligned with market demands not only opens doors to promising placement opportunities for the youth but also fortifies the bedrock of ‘Viksit Bharat’.
India possesses a demographic advantage that demands strategic utilization through the development of capacity and infrastructure for skilling, re-skilling, and upskilling both existing and new entrants to the workforce. Despite the initial goal of elevating the proportion of formally skilled workers from the current 5.4 per cent to a minimum of 15 per cent by 2022-2023, the India Skills Report 2022 by Wheebox indicates a sobering reality—overall youth employability in India stands at a mere 48.7 per cent. While government-led skilling initiatives make strides, they fall short in addressing the substantial gap to meet the targeted supply of 109 million workers.
The latest Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data highlights a significant gap, with 86 per cent of individuals aged between 15 and 59 years having received no vocational training. In contrast, the remaining 14 per cent underwent training through various formal and informal channels. The transformation of this demographic pool into valuable human capital necessitates a dedicated emphasis on skilling and education. Abundant evidence substantiates the potential benefits, indicating that upskilling the youth can result in heightened incomes, increased profitability, and enhanced productivity within the economy.
The New Education Policy (NEP) outlines a definitive objective: by 2035, elevate the gross enrolment ratio in higher education, encompassing vocational education, to 50 per cent. This commitment propels us to realise the target through the addition of 3.5 crore new seats to higher education institutions (HEIs). Our approach emphasises a flexible curriculum, fostering innovative subject combinations, and seamlessly integrating vocational education into mainstream academia. Moreover, we advocate for a system allowing multiple entries and exits, accompanied by appropriate certifications. The establishment of Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs), positioned on par with esteemed institutions like IITs and IIMs, underscores our dedication to providing students with the utmost quality education.
To underscore our commitment, we aim to offer vocational exposure to a minimum of 50 per cent of learners through both school and higher education by the year 2050. Central to our belief is the conviction that each child should not only grasp the essentials of one vocation but should also be acquainted with several others. In a testament to our dedication, India boasts over 15 lakh schools, catering to 25.38 crore students, making it one of the most extensive education networks globally. Our unwavering determination propels us to enhance and refine this network, ensuring a superior educational experience for all.
This ambitious goal demands persistent, united efforts, unwavering willpower, and resolute dedication to enact crucial reforms. To materialise this vision, there’s a necessity for substantial investment in establishing skill centers within every high school nationwide, coupled with the recruitment of proficient vocational teachers. The imperative also extends to the incorporation of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions into our schools. With an unwavering confidence, we assert that transforming India into the world’s third-largest economy by 2030 hinges significantly on investing in our education system — a task we approach with conviction and determination.
It is crucial to instill skill training in our young children, fostering a keen interest in entrepreneurship. This approach not only exposes them to cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, drones, the Internet of Things (IoT), Real-Time Analytics, and more but also aligns with the core principles of the fourth Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0, marked by automation and data exchange. Tailoring the training to these emerging trends becomes imperative for our young minds. While some may choose paths in the government and services sector, the majority are poised to venture into the manufacturing and service sector, brimming with ample opportunities in our nation.
The issue remains inadequately addressed despite some restructuring of skilling schemes. A case in point is the Garib Kalyan Rozgar Yojana (GKRY), introduced by the government in 2020 to tackle skilling and unemployment challenges arising from reverse migration. Unfortunately, the outcome did not align with expectations. Numerous reports highlight the shortcomings of GKRY’s market demand-driven skilling initiatives, asserting their failure to reach the intended beneficiaries. This points to a systemic problem impacting India’s talent ecosystem. Rather than categorizing youths solely as ‘Labharathi’ (Beneficiary), the focus should shift to empowering them with the necessary skills, transforming them into ‘Kamarathi’ (Workman).
The working landscape in India is predominantly informal, encompassing about 93 per cent of the working population, thereby exposing them to a heightened risk of exclusion. To counter this risk, engagement of marginalised groups becomes imperative through a dual approach — utilising both online and offline channels. Leveraging Common Service Centers (CSCs) aids in achieving a last-mile reach, while the adoption of user-friendly and vernacular interfaces proves advantageous for job and skill seekers across diverse segments. While the Talent NODE isn’t a cure-all solution, its potential lies in an innovative and inclusive approach, offering between 50-80 million individuals improved job opportunities aligned with their skills and aspirations. Within an interconnected ecosystem, myriad possibilities emerge, presenting a million pathways for India’s youth to become job-ready contributors to the nation’s development.
It is paramount that industry stakeholders, spanning the government, private, and public sectors, instill cognitive skills, a growth mindset, cultural intelligence, and digital literacy. This collective effort is essential to foster a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs within the country. Such an initiative not only ensures the preparedness of the youth for employment but also positions them to make substantial contributions to India’s evolution into a developed nation.
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