India will be home to almost a billion strong work-force (population aged 15-59) by 2030. At the same time, more than 60% of the current work-force reported difficulty in finding a job. This large scale skill mismatch will have a huge cost on the economy.
While skill-development/vocational training organizations, and the government each have their role to play in bridging this gap, the private sector is a crucial player in the skilling ecosystem of India. Being the major job creator in the country, the private sector – which includes an amalgam of big corporates and MSMEs – has huge potential to influence the scale, quality and sustainability of skill development programs and in integrating them with employment and livelihoods for the informal sector.
Here are 10 ways the private sector can create a positive impact on the skilling landscape in India:
Collaborate with the Sector Skill Council (SSC) to Set Industry Benchmarks: Whether it is identifying skill gaps in current job roles, development of existing and new job roles through National Occupation Standards (NOS) with performance criteria, or linking productivity with technological interventions, the private sector can contribute immensely by investing in research, analysis and setting quality standards for training courses.
Validation and updation of NOS and Qualification Packs (QPs) across industry: Let’s remember that a majority, 80% of the jobs are generated in companies with less than 20 people. This is particularly true of the manufacturing industry and is a significant indicator of how the very small players could be powerful influencers. In such a scenario, it is critical that small companies and other employers of the informal sector verify and validate the job roles and performance metrics (NOS/QPs) from their perspective and adapt, modify or change them to suit their requirements.
Demand forecasting: Since the private companies create a variety of jobs – wage based, piece rate, salaried and contractual – and absorb these different kinds of workers – they are the best agencies to forecast the demand and ensure that the pipeline of trained workforce is always at their disposal. Specifying job roles, wages and locations with maximum visibility would enable training providers to plan their programs accordingly, thereby reducing skill-job mismatch and wastage of talent while meeting industry expectations.
Engage pro-actively with training providers: Not all private companies are equipped to do in-house design, development and delivery of training to suit their productivity requirements. Having a strategic alignment with training providers at different stages in creating a talent pipeline for their needs would improve the success rate of connecting the right skills with the right people and the right job roles.
Facilitate on-the-job work experience: There is growing awareness that for higher levels of expertise, exposure to practical firsthand work experience in the industry is a must. This can be achieved only if the private sector opens its doors to trainees in large numbers – through on-the-job training opportunities and by facilitating learning by doing through increased access to machine time/real clients.
Encourage and promote apprenticeships: The success of the German model of vocational training, which is widely held as the gold-standard, is to a large extent due to the apprenticeship focus. By participating in schemes like the Flexi-MOU by the Ministry of skills (Labour and Employment), the private sector can spearhead and promote the cause of earn while you learn and apprenticeship.
Co-invest in training infrastructure: By working closely with training providers, the private sector can solve many issues related to actual delivery of training. This may require planning for training–sites on their work premises, jointly identifying public places like community centers and hostels or exploring other avenues of delivering the training in proximity with the workplace. Corporates can also fund/subsidize specific training labs/equipment which might otherwise be too expensive for training partners to invest in.
Channelize CSR funds constructively: While the 2% CSR mandate might be a huge impetus to the social sector as a whole, private companies should view this as an investment, especially when it is spent on skill development, and hence quality time and effort is required in decisions regarding fund utilization.
Extend industry expertise: There is nothing like learning directly from experts who have put in years of work in various industries for trainees and apprentices who are learning and earning at the same time. The private sector can encourage and support willing employees to take up roles as subject experts, practical guides and mentors through various train-the-trainers programs or guest lectures which will go a long way in ensuring better training outcomes.
Strive for accountability and results: While scaling and sustaining the skilling programs envisaged for the millions, keeping track of the ROI and process efficiency becomes a key. These are inherent ways of working for the private sector and hence they can take a lead in measuring the impact of training programs on business results. By incorporating these elements into every skill development project, we can inculcate a culture of ownership and responsibility, and expect meaningful returns.
The points discussed above show why purposeful participation from the private sector is indispensable to the success of any skilling initiative. Through strategic partnerships with SSCs, training providers, ITIs and government bodies, the private sector can significantly impact the reach and quality of skilling programs thereby accelerating the overall economy.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.