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Equip manpower for better employability

Deccan Herald - 06 March 2015 - Skill levels of a society determine its growth rate, competitiveness and its social stability. India is at the cusp of a demographic dividend. Greater proportion of people has been young in the working age group for about 30 years. Such population distribution is bound to spur economic growth. For the next 40 years, India will have a youthful, dynamic and productive workforce while the rest of the world, including China, is ageing.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has predicted that by 2020, India will have 116 million workers in the work-starting age bracket of 20 to 24 years, as compared to China's 94 million only. Further, it is estimated that average age in India by the year 2020 will be 29 years as against 40 years in the US, 46 years in Europe and 47 years in Japan. In fact, in the coming 20 years, the labour force in the industrialised world will decline by 4 per cent, in China by 5 per cent, but in India it will increase by 32 per cent.

A study by Boston Consulting Group has estimated that by 2020, the world will have a shortage of 47 million working people. However, in order to reap the benefits of demographic dividend, India will have to equip this manpower to meet the requirement of skilled manpower across geographies and it entirely depends on the skill levels of its young generations.

Sixty years after independence with centrally planned model of economic development, productivity of our industry and labour force as well is abysmally low, an inevitable consequence of continuous neglect of education and training.

We are experiencing the paradox of a massive and growing shortage of skilled and sufficiently trained personnel in all sectors – agriculture, manufacturing and service industries. On the other hand, we are famous for highest in-service employee training costs worldwide, intensifying shortage of skilled workers and rising wages which are jeopardising India Inc’s cost competitiveness in world markets.

The phenomenon of educated unemployed in a fast-track economy is peculiar to India. According to a 2005 Nasscom -McKinsey World Institute study, over 75 per cent of engineering and 85 per cent of arts, science and commerce graduates in India are unemployable. Neither is the curriculum they were prescribed up-to-date, nor are they taught marketable skills during their three-four years in college.

According to National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), in Karnataka, between 2012 and 2022, an incremental demand (cumulative for 10 years) for 8.47 million people will be generated from sectors such as tourism, travel and hospitality; agriculture and allied; building, construction and real estate; IT & ITES, transportation, logistics, warehousing and packaging; healthcare and education services.

Maximum demand is expected to be for the semi-skilled workers at 43 per cent follow by minimally skilled at 27 per cent, skilled workers at 25 per cent and highly skilled workers at 5 per cent. It has been estimated that between 2012 and 2022, about 8.16 million persons will join the workforce in Karnataka.

Supply gap
Of these, about 43 per cent will be minimally skilled, 40 per cent will be semi-skilled, 17 per cent will be skilled and only 1 per cent will be highly skilled. However, industry sources say that at least 20-30 per cent of the workforce joining from the educational institutions is unemployable, thus taking the supply gap to about 2.7 million persons.

The government, way back in 11th Five-Year Plan prepared a detailed road-map for skill development and favoured the formation of Skill Development Missions, both at the state and national levels. A three-tier institutional structure has been set up to take forward the skill development agenda. This organisation has been mandated by the government to “catalyse” (advocate, create, fund, facilitate and incentivise) skill development in India.

The first tier is the Prime Minister’s National Council on Skill Development, the second being the National Skill Development Co-ordination Board and the National Skill Development Corporation in the third tier. The NSDC is entrusted with responsibility of Enabling Support Services such as curriculum, faculty and their training, standards and quality assurance, technology platforms, student placement mechanisms and so on.

It has Prime Minister’s mandate to skill 150 million people in India by 2022. So far, it has developed knowledge banks for about 31 skill sectors ranging from traditional skill sectors such as agriculture, automobiles to sunshine sectors such as IT & ITES, Beauty & Wellness sector, Aerospace and Aviation sectors.

So, universities across the country should take the benefit of enabling environment under the NSDC and strive to achieve better employability of their students. As a first step, all universities should restructure their syllabus of their degree courses to cater the emerging demands of semi skilled workforce and restructure the post graduation syllabus to cater to the skilled labour.

(The writer is associated with the Karnataka State Women’s University, Vijayapura)


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