Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is a cloud of crisis on livelihood. Between April-June 2020, the world lost almost 400 million full-time jobs due to the pandemic, according to statistics released by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The pandemic continues to result in job losses and pay cuts and will lead to many jobs becoming redundant while at the same time, push the creation of newer jobs. At such a time, enhancing the skills among the youth and then making them employable is imperative yet nonetheless challenging during the pandemic.
RP Singh, Chief Executive Officer of Power Sector Skill Council (PSSC), has been responsible for providing a strategic vision to PSSC in ensuring that the team moves cohesively towards the achievement of the Skill India Mission. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, he shares his thoughts on how COVID-19 has impacted PSSC and its impact on jobs and skilling.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview-
What is the impact of COVID-19 on your industry in terms of jobs and skill development?
The initial lockdown, and subsequent reverse migration from cities to hometowns, has triggered two really big challenges.
1) How to generate gainful and productive employment for migrants locally?
2) How to open up closed work adhering to the norms with less labor in the big cities?
In the power sector, the skill gap mainly exists in the distribution segment which employs low paid workmen category. Teaching these workmen online is a real challenge.
How is the job market going to change post-COVID-19 and does it need new QP(Qualification Pack), or change in NOS (National Occupational Standards) or job roles, etc.?
In the power sector, we must come out with a solution for quickly bridging the skill gap in workmen. Skill mapping of migrant labor and quickly bringing them at the appropriate knowledge level is our priority. New job roles for Railway electrification and Signalling and Renewables category have to be added.
How are you ensuring continuous skill development in the present scenario? And, what are the challenges in that?
E-learning is the only solution to this crisis but most of our target group is low paid workmen in the unorganized sector, hence difficulty is being felt in implementing e-learning initiatives. Distribution of hard copies in the person's own language and then interacting for problem-solving only is useful.
PSSC in collaboration with Management Sector Skill Council (MEPSC) has successfully commenced a special training program for Master Trainers - Training of Master Trainers (ToMT) on enhancing the training delivery skills. The program comprised of 4 days online training with a conclusive online assessment on the 5th day scheduled to complete on the 14th of August 2020.
Power Sector Skill Council has nominated 11 participants for the training program. On successful assessment, participants were certified through a joint certificate by Management SSC and NSDC. Thereby becoming eligible to conduct ToT batches for other trainers in the area of expertise.
Are there any e-learning initiatives by SSC that can be pursued during the time of this crisis?
Wherever feasible, like in big organizations such as Indian Railways, e-learning is being planned.
As the world is changing rapidly and is becoming technology-driven, how is the industry planning to cope with the technological advancements and adoption of automation?
In the power sector, technology adoption is very fast. Be it Static VAR compensation or Digital substation or any other area, we have been at the forefront. We were the first to adopt the longest 800KV HVDC and 1200KV HVAC transmission. Suitable training is planned as soon as possible for implementing new technologies.
In the post-pandemic days, there may be jobs that get lost forever. Which jobs do you think in the power industry are more prone to these risks?
I don’t think any jobs would be permanently lost in the power sector post-pandemic.
Presently, some construction workers might have deserted the site but they are likely to come back after the situation eases. Otherwise, local workers have to be skilled and utilized.
On the other hand, there are some jobs that can become more important than ever. In fact, a new category of jobs may emerge altogether in the post-pandemic days. What do you think are some of these jobs to be in the power industry?
Some organizations in the power sector may like to keep extra emergency gangs to meet the re-occurrence of any untoward situation.