“Odisha has a number of ITIs and Polytechnic colleges to help our youth attain the right skills for having gainful employment in the industry of their choice,” says Dr Chandra Shekhar Kumar. In conversation with Nayana Singh and Kartik Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN)
Please tell us about the measures that are being undertaken in the state of Odisha to ensure that the citizens are adequately trained for being employed in the modern industry.
In order to streamline and pay more attention for improving employability of youths through systematic pattern of training, the government of Odisha has created the new department named Employment and Technical Education & Training Department (ETET). The basic purpose of this department is to look after the skill upgradation of the youth and provide quality technical education at various levels. Odisha has a number of ITIs and Polytechnic colleges to help our youth attain the right skills for having gainful employment in the industry of their choice. In fact, I would like to point out that our educated youth are finding good jobs not only in Odisha but outside the state also. The work for skill development of our youth is being done through the formal sector as well as the informal sector. In the formal sector we are strengthening, upgrading and expanding new ITIs and Polytechnic institutions. In 12th Five Year Plan, we are targeting more than 80 new ITIs, which will add up to 40,000 seats and will also strengthen the existing ITIs. Also in coming five years we are planning to set up 20 new Polytechnics, which will add 10,000 more seats. In the informal sector we basically try to cater to the needs of the students who have dropped out of the education system during their schooling period and have not been able to pursue higher education. To these students we provide short duration courses that can enable them to gain skills for different sectors like manufacturing, construction, retail, banking, computers, etc.
What steps are being taken to ensure that there is adequate level of interface between the academic community, who are involved in providing skills related training, and the industrial sector?
A healthy level of interface between the academic community and the industry is of great importance. The academic community in the ITIs and Polytechnics of Odisha are interacting with the industry leaders. We do our best to upgrade and reform the courseware and teaching systems in our education institutions by taking into account the changes that are happening in the industrial area. The institutions often approach the important industry bodies for knowing their views on the kind of curriculum that is most suited for skills development. In today’s world the technology being used by the industry is constantly evolving, so it is necessary that the students be imparted training that takes into account the exact requirements of the industry.
Tell us about the steps that you are taking to ensure that the educational institutions follow better curriculum.
Government of Odisha has created State Employment Mission that seeks to create synergy in various development sectors in terms of skill development of youths and linkages of employment opportunities. The mission’s principal task is to formulate sector and trade specific strategies for specialized skill trainings in order to maximize employment opportunities on a sustainable basis in the state-supported and private sectors. To fulfil these objectives the mission seeks to work in close coordination with National Skill Development Mission. Access to education has to be improved, more and more students must be able to take advantage of higher education and technical education. We need to ensure that students from weaker sections of society are also in a position to pursue the education that they desire.
Tell us about the ways by which you are using Information Technology to bring efficiency into the quality of education that is being imparted.
The Information & Communication Technology (ICT) as a tool in education is available to us at this juncture and we wish to fully utilize it to enhance the current enrolment rate in higher and technical education. We have a number of programs for delivering education through ICT. We are part of Government of India’s National Mission on Education through ICT. Under this mission, a proper balance between content generation, research in critical areas relating to imparting of education and connectivity for integrating our knowledge with the advancements in other countries is to be attempted. We are also part of a programme under which we will be able to broadcast lectures online in polytechnic colleges. Capacity building through knowledge empowerment of our youth is necessary to sustain a high growth rate of our economy.
What kind of initiatives does your department have on improving the employability of the youth in the state?
There is lot of improvement in employability of the youth in the state and that is also having a positive impact in the overall economy of the state. Availability of skilled manpower is most important for achieving the targets of higher productivity, accuracy, consistency and thus competitiveness for domestic and other sectors micro, small and medium manufacturing enterprises as well as process sector industries. Odisha is host to the biggest new names in the business world in the field of steel, power, aluminium, and cement etc. The presence of such strong industrial players distinctly provides required synergy for human capital investment through establishment of Technological Universities, IIT, IIIT, IIM level institutions to boost Research & Development (R&D) activities and providing managerial, supervisory, skill workforce to the emerging labour market.