Efforts across the country to fill the skills gap and mobilise youth into skills training are beginning to gain momentum, and we are seeing incremental, but significant change on ground in communities, as a result, says Pearl Tiwari, Director and CEO, Ambuja Cement Foundation
Cleaning up the Marketplace for Skills …
Skill Training is an important issue nationally and the Government has put a lot of deep level thinking into the 'national skills agenda', and relevant schemes. Where once there were multiple schemes in every state, these have been folded into one national, scheme (DDUGKY) which is helping ‘clean up’ the marketplace for skills.
These efforts are raising the bar in terms of the quality of skill training being imparted - forcing 'fly by nighters' out of the market and holding all stakeholders more accountable for their skill training efforts.
With stringent norms to adhere to, skill training providers are being forced to raise the bar, for example, proving their trainers are certified, training infrastructure and tools meet minimum standards and meeting attendance norms.
The entire monitoring mechanism at each level has increased the overall training outcome from training providers, ensuring quality training and proper job placement and career outcomes for students.
Fostering ‘Blue Collar’ Aspirations …
Other initiatives have given fresh impetus to the skills agenda with the government harnessing the power of the media to push the National Skills Agenda, via advertising campaigns. This, along with ‘Recognition & Reward’ initiatives which highlight the success of skilled trainees, has helped garner interest in communities for ‘blue collar’ jobs, where traditionally youth and their families sought white collar careers.
With so much happening in the skill training space, we are seeing a shift in mind-set among the people - slowly, but surely. India is having an elevated discussion and as a result, Blue Collar work is rising in respectability. On the ground in communities, we are witnessing this change as efforts in mobilizing students are reducing in areas where strong skill training centres exist.
Still a long way to go …
But we have a long way to go to meet the skilling ambitions of the nation.
Key challenges remain – including attracting industry experienced qualified staff to train in rural areas. Lucrative opportunities within industry makes it difficult to Skill Training Providers to compete for good training talent, and many are unwilling to move to remote locations, where the need is. Additionally, youth in remote locations do not have access to training institutes and it is necessary to innovate and explore ‘hub and spoke’ models whereby a training institute delivers courses in satellite locations to provide better access.
There is also a need to address youth exploitation after placement, which continues to occur. Lastly, migration is another issue inhibiting skills growth, where rural trainees generally do not agree to migrate for job placement, and those who do, face difficulty coping with the new environment. Innovations such as group placement have been effective in solving this issue, but there is a need to explore other models such as provision of hostels which provide support systems to rural youth to help them manage blending into an urban environment.
By working collectively and sharing knowledge and experiences we can tackle this issues with innovation and help rural youth find lucrative careers in Skills.
The Ambuja Cement Foundation has placed a particular focus, this year, in growing its Skills vertical. We have expanded our footprint in the sector on every front, and are proud of the impact we are generating. Footprint increased to include: 30 centres, across 10 States, with 172 faculty wherein the impact is that it has created 44,405 graduates across the country, 1742 youth are undergoing training, entry level salary for each graduate, averages Rs.6500 to 7000 per month, placement rate of 73.45 %, with 68 % retention rates (for the last three years).