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A new shortage of skills and talent in IT and business is threatening business growth, according to Gartner, Inc, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. This skills shortfall is very different from the shortage experienced during the dot-com squeeze of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Then there were shortages of specific, technical skills and domain-specific expertise. Today, by contrast, there are shortages of people with more general qualifications, experience and business insight. Several forces are coming together to create a competition for talent. 

“What constitutes ‘qualified people’ keeps on changing. The focus is on understanding and managing business processes and technology, which take time to mature.

E-Skills are pervasive, and not limited to IT specialists; they are increasingly required in all sectors and at all levels of activity in which creativity, innovation, and inter-disciplinary teamwork are required as tools for competitiveness; in both the private and public sectors, leaders need not only to be e-Literate, but also to display and grow the new qualities required by ‘e-Leadership’. E-skills will be of central importance to determine workers’ vertical and horizontal mobility, and hence of well-functioning labour markets and adequate employability and inclusion levels.

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The criticality of skill development in our overall strategy is that if we get our skill development act right, we will be harnessing ‘demographic dividend’; if we do not get there, we could be facing a ‘demographic nightmare’

The gap is growing between the ability of existing education systems to provide e-Skilled workers and managers on one hand, and the requirement of knowledge-intensive economies on the other hand. In a number of industries and regions, this gap is particularly acute, and calls for rapid adjustments in education systems, and improvements of the image of IT jobs. From a policy point of view, addressing foreseeable e-Skills shortages May yield significant side benefits. With the right mix of strategies and policies, and the proper dose of engagement from all major stakeholders, the current lack of e-Skills May indeed prove a major opportunity to involve larger share of the world population in the creation of, and benefits from a truly inclusive information society.

Worried about a growing mismatch between the skills of young population and the nature of jobs they would be required to fill, the Union government in India has proposed spending a hefty INR31,000 crore on skills development over the next five years as part of a ‘National Skills Development Mission’. The allocation for skills development in the 10th Plan under the Centrally-sponsored scheme of vocationalisation of secondary education was just INR350 crore.

As the 11th Plan Panel said it sometime back, “The criticality of skill development in our overall strategy is that if we get our skill development act right, we will be harnessing ‘demographic dividend’; if we do not get there, we could be facing a ‘demographic nightmare’.”

Data collected in the 60th round of National Sample Survey Organisation survey shows that only 3% of the rural youth (15-29 years) and 6% of the urban youth have gone through any kind of vocational training. Acknowledging the gap in the development of skills in an economy that is growing at more than 9%, the skill development mission will aim for a five-fold expansion in public sector skill development infrastructure and its utilization, and will work to convert ITIs, polytechnics and vocational school programmes into public-private partnerships (PPP).

The government has huge commitments in infrastructure, health and education. But does it have enough resources? Is PPP a wayand a model found to make the mission statement workable?

A recent report by TeamLease Services Pvt. Ltd, a private recruitment firm, noted that Indian youth are simply unemployable. According to that report, 53% of employed youth in this country suffer from some degree of skill deprivation while only 8% of youth are unemployed. It also said that 57% of India’s youth suffer from unemployability.

Probably, in order to address these sort of stern demands of the situation, the government also proposes to create a National Skill Development Fund, which will impose a universal skill development obligation on industry to invest in skill development of the socially excluded sections, minorities and other candidates from families below the poverty line, as a contribution to affirmative action.

There are also plans to create a Virtual Skill Development Resource Network, which can be accessed by trainees at 50,000 Skill Development Centres, providing Internet-based learning. In addition, it recommends setting up a National Skills Inventory and a database for Skill Deficiency Mapping, which will facilitate tracking of careers, placement and exchange of information between employers.

What can be the possible attributes for the problem of a skill-deprived workforce in the country?

Poor infrastructure? Ill-equipped classrooms, laboratories and workshops? Non-performing faculty? Absence of measurement of performance and outcomes?

While industry has been complaining about the quality of training at the ITIs, it says, placements are not tracked, training institutes are not rated, accreditation systems are archaic and not progressive. End of training examination and certification systems are either non-existent or deeply flawed. Some sections within it have already initiated efforts to revamp the ITIs.CII has a plan to adopt 147 ITIs across the country. According to it, members of CII will partner with states with an aim to change courses and improvise new ones to better serve the industry needs. Under this, the Centre, after it approves a development plan, will release funds directly to the institute management committee, which will provide more flexibility and authority.

National Knowledge Commission  Proposal For Computerised Vocational Training

The objective of this proposal is to establish a state-wide network of computerised vocational

  • training centers covering every village in the country and offering training courses on a wide
  • range of occupational skills. Its salient features are:
  • Establish 50,000 training institutes in the country.
  • Establish 40,000 training centres as privately owned businesses.
  • Establish 10,000 training centres in engineering colleges, arts colleges, ITIs
    and high schools that have spare computer lab capacity available for morning
    or evening use.
    Provide vocational training to a minimum of 10,000,0001 students per annum.
    Generate self-employment for 40,000 entrepreneurs.
    Generate employment in the training institutes for an additional 80,000 shop training assistants.
  • Computerised vocational courses can be offered using the existing computer facilities available at Liberal Arts  and Engineering Colleges, Industrial Training Institutes & Polytechnics, Private Training Institutes and High Schools

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