Across the world, there is a growing contradiction of rising unemployment rates and the shortage of skilled workforce. On the one hand, the educated unemployed are turning every job search engine upside down to look for a silver lining. On the other hand, employers increasingly find it difficult to identify the skilled youth with the right skills set who can be handed over the baton. Education system across the world continues to provide degree holders who have degrees but the requisite competence and skills are an area of concern. To make matters worse, the world order is defined by knowledge and skills in consonance with the 21st century. It is aptly articulated in Strategic and Implementation Framework for Skills Development in India by FICCI:
“Knowledge is the engine that drives the growth of an economy. In order to remain competitive, all countries and organizations have to attract human resources with new and innovative skills. However, availability of skilled manpower is becoming a challenge. The world is entering a phase, which is expected to witness an unparalleled shortage of skills. In developed countries, the ageing population and retirement of baby boomers will have a significant impact on countries’ capability to manage workforce quantity, quality and costs. Despite high unemployment rate, employers are facing difficulty in finding the right match for the jobs. According to the survey conduct by Manpower Group (US), one in three employers in the world is experiencing difficulty in filling job positions.”
This is the global scenario and skills crunch is a global issue. But in the case of a country that prides on its ‘demographic dividend’ and wishes to transform this ‘demographic dividend’ into the magical solution of economic crisis, it is a much greater challenge. India has long been touted as the youngest country in the world and its youth is deemed the treasure for the country. But when one studies the unemployment rates, it is alarming to learn about how Indian youths are also finding it difficult to participate in globalized world. One of the major barriers to their participation is their ability to articulate themselves in English. Where do we stand in this regard? The report further addresses the issue:
“On other hand, India has the distinct advantage of having one of the youngest populations in the world. The country has a very large pool of young Englishspeaking people and has the potential to meet the skill needs of other countries and also cater to its own demand for skilled manpower. Ironically, most industries in India are currently struggling with scarcity of skilled labor. Although more than 40 million people are registered in employment exchanges, 0.2 million people get jobs. This is because the current education system does not train young people in employable skills that will open up immediate employment opportunities for them. Today, a large section of India’s labor force has outdated skills. With current and expected economic growth, this challenge is going to only increase further, since more than 75% of new employment opportunities are expected to be skill-based.
However, to make this exercise a success, India has many lessons to learn and implement from international practices -as compared to 75% of Germany’s, 68% of UK’s skilled workforce, India can only account for 2%. Therefore, far-reaching and deep rooted reforms are urgently needed if it wants to emulate countries, whose vocational education and training systems has been successful.”
It has been believed for a very long time that India has the largest Englishspeaking pool in the world. But that may not be an accurate estimate as against the rising demand for the same. David Graddol explains:
“The rewards of investing in English depend in great measure on how many other countries are now teaching English to their youth. In China, elsewhere in Asia, in Latin America, across Europe and many other places, English is now seen as a new ‘basic skill’ which all children require if they are to fully participate in 21stcentury civil society.
India speaks English. At least that is what most of the world imagines. Only a few years ago, north America and Europe discovered that India could provide lowcost back office and call centre facilities. It looked as if India was finally able to ‘monetise’ its British colonial legacy. The English language appears to be the key ingredient in a new, IT-enabled, economy which is everywhere transforming Indian society. But as the Indian economy grows, exhausting its English-speaking ‘talent pool’, some people are beginning to think that perhaps not enough people in India speak English after all.”
To put it in perspective, David Graddol wrote this a few years back and the demand for English is accentuated even further in the past few years.
Station-e Digital Labs
Station-e is a chain of Digital labs, spread across the country and scientifically designed and customized to the core for proficiency in English at all levels. Station-e Language Lab is different as it is not 25 PCs stationed in cubicles but a cozy lab with flexi tools for listening and recording,
playing back the audio video files on the plazma TV and a host of technologydefined ways of learning. The course material provided to learners is designed by nationally acclaimed experts in the field and advanced technology is integrated into the activity-based and learner-centric modules of language learning.
In the language labs at Station-e, we have evolved a technology based model of language learning to address the diverse requirements of the scores of people who aspire to communicate in fluent English. Till now, Station-e has lent material shape to the dream of attaining communication proficiency of over 100000 learners across the 30 Centres in the country.
Dr Haresh Tank
Dr. Haresh Tank is Director, Station-e Language Lab. In the capacity of Director, he is in charge of conceptualizing and operationalizing initiatives with a special focus on Skills Development. He holds a doctorate in Statistics and is a noted Statistical Analyst. He was also nominated for Young Scientist Award. With a passion for teaching and contributing to the society, he continues to serve as Associate Professor in Statistics. As a Director, Station-e Language Lab, he has initiated several projects in the realm of Skills Development with Government and private companies. In addition, Dr. Tank is serving as Vice Chairman, CII, Western Gujarat Zonal Council.
Station-e as the New Model of Digital Labs
Station-e marks a new era in the realm of English training because it is a nongovernment initiative but also an effective and novel innovation. It is a new window that opens to the world of corporatization and professionalization of training and teaching of English. No longer can we afford to look up to the governments for the language training solutions; it is time to usher in corporate, NGOs and form public-private partnerships wherever need be. 19th century mindset, processes and solutions have not helped and will not help. We need 21st century solutions for 21st century demand for proficiency in English for the youngest country in the world. Station-e is a phenomenon, a landmark and a model of how to go about it. We have done our bit; we have led the way and shown the direction. The path to scientific way of language learning has been constructed by the concerted and sustained efforts by Station-e. In this world increasingly defined and re-defined soft skills such as communication skills, Station-e is a model of language training, designed in a customized way, devised with the ICT tools at their sophisticated best and delivered with human excellence. If implemented throughout India, Station-e model of Digital Labs cum Skills Development Centres can transform the skills development landscape in the country.
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