Looking at the skilling strategy, there are tremendous challenges in meeting the required numbers. The biggest challenge is to reach out to the rural and tribal areas, as well as the vulnerable areas of the society, which is critical because about 70 percent of India is in the rural areas. So, if everyone only focuses on the low hanging fruits, the targets cannot be met. The other challenge facing India is that the economy as a whole is not growing at the pace that was anticipated, so jobs are not adequate. But there is the opportunity of the demographic dividend. Hence, if the youth are skilled to global standards, they can migrate to jobs anywhere. The third challenge is the absence of a rigorous monitoring of quality parameters in many projects/training organizations, which later affects the candidate intake in companies as they are not always considered employable. Many training centers often run in less than 100 percent capacity as candidates are not convinced about the quality of training imparted, and there are also dropouts, both during the training as well as once the candidate has been employed, for varied reasons.
Our focus is to help organizations undertake inclusive hiring. After NSDC began funding organizations, there are some 40-45 organizations that have entered the skilling space for training the abled-youth. Now we are, therefore helping companies do inclusive hiring, including SC, ST, people in remote Naxal areas, and those with disabilities.
Work on this front is required, because many of the international companies in the West focus on inclusive hiring, and when they enter the Indian market they bring similar expectations. However, a challenge they face is in hiring a diverse talent pool as India does not have many organizations developing the skills of this diverse talent pool. Add to this, not catering to talent in the rural and tribal areas cuts down India’s available resources pool by far.
We are pioneers in promoting inclusive hiring in India. For example, we have set up the country’s first center for PwD livelihood in Andhra Pradesh, which is the largest project in the country where we have trained 2,500 people and 70 percent of those have been absorbed into jobs. And systematically, we are scaling the mandate and plan to take it across the country. We are doing a project in Bastar to help the youth there get employment. Further, we work as knowledge partners by helping every state with the knowledge required to setup their employment mission. For example, on 11th May (Friday), the Chief Secretary of Orissa released the skilling strategy, which we have prepared for the state of Orissa for the next five years.
The skilling agenda is proposing the possibility of a job without a degree, however the success of this model will depend on a mindset shift that needs to happen as most Indians believe a ‘degree’ is equal to a ‘job’. So, there is a need for an awareness campaign to promote these market-linked vocational courses that allow candidates a chance to get a job. Another aspect that is critical for the sustainability of this agenda is to ensure that companies also pay for these trainings, which are presently being borne by the youth. Further, we also need more banks to come forward to provide loan facility to fund these training costs, as it may not be possible for the youth in the rural and tribal areas to pay Rs. 7,000-8,000 for these courses.