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There´s a need to create a pool of professionals

There´s a need to create a pool of professionals

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, shares his views and proposed reforms for the skilling sector in the country.

By 2022, the Indian infrastructure sector is likely to have a shortage of around 3 million project professionals. How can this skill shortage be met?
The focus should heavily be on skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling of labour resources. In order to grow and make campaigns like ´Make in India´ a success, the industry needs access to talent that is ´job ready´-talent that needs minimal or no training when recruited for a particular role.

There is a need to create this pool of trained professionals across various job levels and across the infrastructure value chain. To meet the demand for talent in the future, all the involved stakeholders-corporate, industry associations, government, and academia must work together towards a common objective. In order to meet these objectives and to implement a talent development roadmap in a coherent manner, the focus should be on research and skills development programmes, including curriculum development and other academic pursuits related to the infrastructure industry.

Since trainings in the infra sector are largely capital intensive, we need to ensure that there is a market for collaboration and use of scarce capital resources. For e.g., there could be a network of employers who commit to train a certain percentage of their workforce and tie up with training providers for the same, making it commercially viable for the training providers.

Industry players and training bodies should initiate steps to develop strong linkages which would serve their collective interest and provide mutual support. This linkage could help the industry in overcoming skill shortage and improving productivity and would help the institutes in various ways like content development, low fixed expenditure etc.

The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship has funded several entities and is supporting the setting up of Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) in the infrastructure area that would provide leadership in addressing the skill gaps in the sector.

What are the most recent initiatives by the government that can help India overcome this shortage?
The government of India is supporting various training institutes for developing skilled workforce for the sector. Some of these under the PP model through NSDC are Kushal-CREDAI, Construction Industry Development Council, IL&FS, LabourNet, AISECT, B-Able, CAP WDI, DB Tech among others, to skill, up-skill and re-skill people working in this sector. In addition, the Ministry is encouraging the use of CSR funds for training.

The National Skill Development Fund under the Ministry and NSDC recently signed an MoU with PowerGrid Corporation of India, where PowerGrid will contribute Rs 6.52 crore under their CSR initiative to skill 5,000 people across India.

To enable benchmarking of our skills with international best practices, the Ministry is supporting the participation of skilled persons at the biennial WorldSkills International Competition 2015 in Sao Paolo in trades such as welding, plumbing, tile-laying etc.

In relation to the above, how can India´s vocational education and training programmes be revamped?

  • Institutions/training providers should also impart generic skills such as project management and develop and promote executive and management development programmes to solve the problem of higher-order skill shortage
  • Training providers should have innovative delivery models to reduce the relocation dissonance for the labour that needs training and employment
  • Robust delivery model with sourcing centres close to the supply centres feeding into the regional hubs could be adopted
  • Institutes will need to be close to demand in a B2B model and closer to supply in a B2C model
  • Industry bodies could undertake measures to incubate a vocational training cell with member support so that industry people can be trained part time by the institutes. Institutes should follow the´Train the Trainer´ model and leverage technology-enabled delivery.

Are we placing too much reliance on the Public-Private Partnership model for infrastructure projects?
PPPs have traditionally been formed to enhance the productivity and efficiency of infrastructure development activities. This is an instrument to draw private sector participation and investments. The primary advantage of PPPs over traditional public procurement is efficiency gains in terms of both time and cost. Over the past decade or so, there has been an increasing trend at the Central as well as State government level to use PPPs for meeting critical infrastructure gaps. The results have been quite encouraging. Establishing a PPP is now considered to be the default option for major infrastructure projects in sectors such as roads, railways, airports, ports and other transport segments. First preference is given to the PPP model, and only in cases where projects are expected to fail to attract private sector interest, more traditional models are considered. PPP is increasingly being seen as the instrument for meeting India´s infrastructure operation needs and for provision of infrastructure services. PPP further ensures that creating new infrastructure is much easier, entailing substantial early-stage risk due to involvement of professional entities.

How has been the response from major corporates on vocational education?
The response to skill development from big companies has been catalysed in the past few years through NSDC. Organizations such as the Kalyani Group, Mahindra & Mahindra, NIIT, Apollo Hospital, Max Hospitals, Reliance Animation and Bharti Group are amongst 170ꋘ firms which have partnered NSDC over the last four years. Sixty-seven firms have agreed to support the Udaan programme, which is a special initiative for the youth of Jammu & Kashmir. Others like Godrej, Bosch and Toyota are supporting the efforts in a variety of other ways. Tata´s have set up a specific organization for skill development. Many others such as the Aditya Birla Group, ICICI Bank, Ambuja and Lupin, have set up skill development centres through their foundations. That being said, there needs to be a multi-fold increase in the scale of industry participation and rollout of skill development efforts across the country.

Many corporates have been investing in training but only in-house and not as part of their larger contribution to scaling up skill development in the country. We need to scale and align these in the very near future. NSDC has been given a target to take the number of training partners from 171 currently to over 500 in the next few years. We need industry participation in a big way towards funding vocational institutes. We are also looking at how private sectors can partner with the government. We plan to open 21,500 multi-skill-centres in the PPP model which will eventually attract interest and participation from corporates for both financial and non-financial support. With the advent of huge campaigns like ´Make in India´ and ´Digital India´, the trend is bound to reverse soon. The need of specific skills and specific job roles is going to see a huge increase across the world and these jobs will become a lucrative option for the candidates. Skills will be the backbone of every successful campaign that we will see in the country. A skill certificate that the candidates will receive after their training will help them achieve a certain level of social recognition amongst employers.

Will the upcoming Budget strengthen the skill development initiative of the government?
We are evaluating the requirements for scaling up skill development in the country and in accordance to those needs, we will be making our recommendation to the Finance Ministry. The government of India is committed to the task of skilling close to 300 million youth by 2022.

Our key effort will be to utilise the existing resources of the entire public and private sector and further strengthen the ecosystem. There will also be a special emphasis on soft skills which will become an integral part of the skills development ecosystem in the country. Our Ministry is in discussions with the Finance Ministry and you will see the outcome soon.

– Grima Pant

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