Q: How can Skill Development be Imperative for India’s growth?
A: As we all know, our PM Shri Narendra Modi has a vision of 5 trillion GDP. To achieve this, there needs to be growth across all segments and this growth can happen only if investments are made by the industry. However, if availability of appropriately skilled manpower across sectors is a challenge, then investment in infrastructure alone is not going trigger growth. In the past, a technology that came in, would stay for longer period of time and therefore once the person was trained or educated in that particular area, his/her knowledge was sufficient for that person to continue to be productivein the work place with incremental training at the job. However, the scenario has completely changed with the advent of‘industry 4.0’ where the technology disruptions are happening every 6 months to 1 year; technologies are getting obsolete very fast with new technologies replacing them and thereby making several job roles redundant and giving rise to new jobs with completely new skill set requirements. Therefore, in the last 10-15 years, skill development and lifelong learninghas become extremely critical and important. There has been a major shift in the education system, inthe skilling environment and in the mindsets of the people which is very important. In the past education and degree was a way for better socio economic returns in India but today things have changed , it is not the degree that is going to give you returns but the right skills and the ability to adapt new skills is what is going to be very important and therefore bringing skill development into the center stage.
Q: How skilling has improved the growth of the country especially in rural India?
A: Skill development in a very organized manner is still at a pretty nascent stage& it is only in early 2005-07 when this entire system developed , earlier we had vocational education which was very focused on the manufacturing so we had ITI’s and which kind of cater to the manufacturing sector needs in the 1991 economic liberization happened and services sector came in that is when the private training institutes came in and polytechnics and many of the corporates set up their own centers because obviously the government was not able to set up . in all this the rural areas were left behind , they were never main stream . Even when NSDC was set up the MSDE coming in the focus was more on manufacturing and services and if you look at the rural economy , agricultural , traditional art and craft , food processing these are the areas where the economy actutallyhappens.So I believe thatwe still have to work very hard for rural India and FICSI has a major role to play in that. For example, pineapple in the northeast is of very high quality but they are not able to package it and bring it there locally because they don’t have the facility. That is where up-skilling and training can play a very important role to uplift the rural India and in turn the nation’s economy.
Q: According to you, how industries can contribute in the skilling ecosystem?
A: Industries are the recipient of the skilled manpower, hence,have the major stake in the whole skill development aspect.Theeducational and training institute are onthe supply side and industry on the demand side and they need to converge and work together in preparing the current and future workforce.The industry has been and would always be ahead of the academia in terms of technology and processes because its in the industry shop floors and offices, the technology disruptions and adoption is happening. Therefore,the onus is on industry to stay engaged with academia by jointly developing curriculum, training and mentoring faculty/students on the shopfloor through apprenticeship or internship and work on joint research and innovation projects.The small and medium enterprisesneed handholding and mentoring by the large industries.
At FICCI, we have always spoken about ‘National Knowledge Functional Hub’– a hub and spoke model- where you have a patron university which has all the facilities as the Hub, champion industries who are engaged with the Hub university across faculty and curriculum development, R&D, Student internship/apprenticeship etc. andnumber of higher education institutes and companies as the spokes who work and learn from the best practices followed in the Hub University. Apprenticeship is one major mechanism for preparing industry ready workforce. SMEs do not have the wherewithal and capacities to implement this on their own. Local chambers can play an important role in providing the needed support and apex Chambers like us can work with the local chambers to build this capacity.
Q: What role dothe EducationalInstitute playin the skilling ecosystem?
A: Educational institute would have to move away from the black board teaching that encourages rote learning to pedagogy that promotes ‘learning by doing’ and inculcates design thinking, critical thinking, creativityand problem solving in the learner.Education today must be multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and the students need to be made aware of exponential technologies that are disrupting the norm and impacting environmental laws, legal and ethical behavior etc. The educational institute needs to prepare citizens for tomorrow, and they have to make them ready for change adoption,for conflict resolution of all kinds- political, social, economic, human and nature. Basically, you have to become an evolved human being to deal with today’sand tomorrow’s challenges. Also,today’s challenge with educational institute is that the students are more knowledgeable about technology than the teachers. Hence, there is a huge need for capacity development of the faculty and trainers in the emerging technology.Career counselling s another area that needs to be developed in the educational institutions to help students make informed choices.
Q: What advice would you like to give to the youth of tomorrow?
A: The youth of tomorrow as I mentioned must first and foremost be good human beings, they must have empathy and be compassionate to the lesser privileged society. Particularly if you look at India and Asia region there is a lot of poverty and disparity leading to social conflicts, malpractices and corruption. Unless you are sensitive, tolerant and adaptable you will just not be able to adjust to the disruptive changes in the society and industry. There are huge opportunities today, but the bottom line is that you need to have the right skills i.e. creativity, critical thinking, design thinking and problem solving.