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A case for skill development

Rajendra Jog - [ CEO, Indo Swiss Centre of Excellence, Pune]

Rajendra Jog highlights the need to build appropriate skills across various domains in order to leverage India’s demographic bonus


The problem of unemployment is very serious in our country. Despite the vast ocean of unemployed people, it is a challenge to find the right type of personnel for various jobs. While there is a surplus of manpower, there is also a vast shortage of people with the skills to fill the large number of jobs available. What is required is development of skills that meet the rapidly changing industry needs.


Skill development is critical for achieving faster, sustainable, and inclusive growth on one hand and to provide decent employment opportunities for the growing young population on the other.


Skill development is critical for achieving faster, sustainable, and inclusive growth on one hand and to provide decent employment opportunities for the growing young population on the other. Overall skill development can be more effectively achieved by encouraging user-academia- industry partnership to enhance the opportunities for Young India to contribute towards nation building.


India is now experiencing a period of ‘demographic bonus’, where the growth rate of the working age population will exceed that of the total population. By the year 2026, around 64% of India’s population is expected to be in the age bracket of 15–59 years, while only 13% of the total will be above 60 years.


A young population is an asset only if it is educated, skilled and finds productive employment. If this happens then our dream of realizing India’s potential to grow the economy at 10% or more per annum for a substantial period can become a reality. The demographic window of opportunity available to India can make the country the skill capital of the world. This can only happen if the nation is able to meet the requirement for technically trained manpower not only for its growing economy but also aging advanced economies of the world.


The country presently faces a dual challenge of severe paucity of highly trained, quality labour, as well as non-employability of large sections of the educated workforce that possess little or no job skills.


Availability of basic infrastructure is one of the important requirements for the proper implementation of skill & training development programs. The Indo Swiss Centre of Excellence (ISCE) was set up jointly by Malhotra Weikfield Foundation, Syngenta Foundation, Sulzer and Burckhardt. The objective not for profit company was to establish a CEA (Centre of Excellence in Agriculture) and CEM (Centre of Excellence in Manufacturing).


This initiative is expected to address five missions of our Honourable Prime Minister: Skilling India, Make in India, Employability of Rural Youth, Improving Agricultural Productivity, Innovation & Sustainable Technologies, thereby achieving the goal of becoming ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.


ISCE has already built a Centre of Excellence in Agriculture, operated by Syngenta Foundation, where unemployed rural youth are trained in the basics of agronomy in addition to soft skills, IT skills, and basic finance and business skills. Candidates completing this course are either absorbed by agri and allied industries or are encouraged to become agri entrepreneurs to support approximately 200 farmers in their own villages, thereby helping smallholder farmers to improve their livelihood as well. During the last two years, approximately 1600 village youths have been trained, of which 910 students were absorbed by agri allied companies, while around 700 students have become agri entrepreneurs.


Construction will soon start on the Centre of Excellence in Manufacturing (CEM), a state-of-the-art technical training centre offering Diploma courses in Mechatronics and Electronics, and short term courses to impart futuristic skills like IoT, Machine Learning, 3D Printing, and other skills needed to meet changing industry needs. The CEM will collaborate with NTTF, a renowned institution that offers similar training facilities across various Indian states and has a 100% placement record for their students.


In the near future, the ISCE could also consider establishing a multi-disciplinary Centre of Excellence on Maritime Studies, comprising of centres for research, training, innovation, and strategy. Acoustic survey is a critical skill that will be required on a massive scale across multiple industries in the maritime sector and in the freshwater systems in the hinterland. Appropriate skill development at multiple levels will be required to drive the substantial human resource development requirement.


The Prime Minister’s Skill India initiative needs to have a maritime focus with a comprehensive policy support to bridge the demand versus supply gap.


The Prime Minister’s Skill India initiative needs to have a maritime focus with a comprehensive policy support to bridge the demand versus supply gap. The UDA framework can provide multiple opportunities in that direction and could become an enabler for his SAGAR vision.


Institutionalization of the User-Academia-Industry partnership towards realizing the substantial potential of the maritime sector for peace and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region is the way forward.