SKILLING MANPOWER: The New Ecosystem
Today, India is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 62 per cent of its population in the working age group (15–59 years) and more than 54 per cent of its total population below 25 years of age. Its population pyramid is expected to bulge across the 15–59 age group over the next decade. It is further estimated that the average age of the population in India by 2020 will be 29 years as against 40 years in USA, 46 years in Europe, and 47 years in Japan. In fact, during the next 20 years, the labour force in the industrialized world is expected to decline by 4 per cent, while it will increase by 32 per cent in India. This poses a formidable challenge and a huge opportunity. In order to reap this demographic dividend, which is expected to last for next 25 years, India needs to equip its workforce with employable skills and knowledge so that they can contribute substantively to the economic growth of the country.
National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015
Recognizing the imperative need for skill development, the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 was announced on July 15, 2015. The primary objective of this policy is to meet the challenge of skilling at scale with speed, standard (quality), and sustainability. It aims to provide an umbrella framework to all skilling activities being carried out within the country, align them to common standards, and link skilling with the demand centres. In addition to laying down the objectives and expected outcomes, the policy also identifies the overall institutional framework which will act as a vehicle to achieve the expected outcomes.
As per the policy, skill development is the shared responsibility of the key stakeholders, namely the government, the entire spectrum of the corporate sector, community-based organizations, those outstanding, highly qualified, and dedicated individuals who have been working in the skilling and entrepreneurship space for many years, industry and trade organizations, and other stakeholders. The policy links skills development to improved employability and productivity in paving the way forward for inclusive growth in the country. The skill strategy is complemented by specific efforts to promote entrepreneurship in order to create ample opportunities for the skilled workforce.
The core objective of the policy is to empower the individual by enabling her/him to realize their complete potential through a process of lifelong learning where competencies are accumulated via instruments, such as credible certifications, credit accumulation, and transfer, etc. As individuals grow, the society and nation also benefit from their productivity and growth.
Skill development and entrepreneurship are complementary to each other. The key stakeholders include central ministries/ departments, state governments, and industries/employers. There is a need to ensure alignment of the efforts of all stakeholders, in the skill and entrepreneurship landscape, towards a common goal. While the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India, will coordinate and converge all efforts in this space, the relevant central ministries/departments, state governments, and industries/ employers are expected to fulfill the roles and responsibilities pertaining to their domain.
Sector Skill Councils (SSCs)—An Important Arm of Execution
In order to ensure that skill development efforts, by all stakeholders in the system, are in accordance with actual needs of the industries, Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) have been set up. SSCs are autonomous, industry-led and industry-governed bodies which will help link the requirements of industry with appropriately trained manpower. The SSCs are set up for the purpose of developing sector-specific competencies/skills, assurance of quality through accreditation of the skills acquired by trainees, curriculum development for skills training, qualification framework, setting requisite standards and benchmarks, recruitment and placement of trained and skilled workforce, as well as data collection, management, and provider of well-trained workforce to the industry.
The SSCs are national-level organizations with a government– industry interface and formed in partnership with stakeholders from industry, labour as well as the academia. The Agriculture Skill Council of India, Automotive Skills Development Council, Gems & Jewellery Skill Council of India, Power Sector Skill Council, and so on, are just a few examples of the numerous SSCs presently in operation. The initial funding, in these Councils, is by the government and it becomes self-funded as it grows over a period of time. Formed as a Society or a Sec 25 Company with its own Governing Council, CEO, and a secretariat, the SSC is a separate entity. Specifically, SSCs complement the vocational institutes and existing education system for an interface with the industry.
Skill Council in the Renewable Energy Sector
It is realized that multi-fold scaling up of renewable energy generation capacity requires commensurate development of skilled workforce for manufacturing, project work, and asset maintenance. The renewable energy sector alone is likely to have two million green jobs in the next 10 years. A strong urgent need of a broad-based, industry-led skill development activity to up-skill and/or re-skill manpower is felt.
The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship jointly with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has set up the ‘Skill Council for Green Jobs’. The main promoters of the Council are the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. The Council began its operations from October 1, 2015. In this short time, it has affiliated over 70 training partners, across the country, to impart quality training in its domain of activities. It has also developed the National Occupational Standards and Qualification Packs in the solar domain. Most recently, it has come out with three participant handbooks on solar rooftop installations. It is in the process of developing the National Occupational Standards for solar designers; ground-mounted SPV power plants, solar proposal evaluators, and so on. Simultaneously, it has also identified wastewater treatment as its priority area to meet skilled manpower requirements of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
A ‘green job’ is defined as one that helps bring about and maintain a transition to environmentally sustainable forms of production and consumption. It cut across all the sectors, be it energy, materials, water conservation, waste management, pollution control, etc. The green skill can be divided into two categories— developing green skills for the existing workforce and skilling workforce for green jobs. While the Skill Council for Green Jobs proposes to target both these categories, the immediate focus would be skilling the workforce towards green jobs for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and waste treatment.
A ‘GREEN JOB’ IS DEFINED AS ONE THAT HELPS BRING ABOUT AND MAINTAIN A TRANSITION TO ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE FORMS OF PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION. IT CUT ACROSS ALL THE SECTORS, BE IT ENERGY, MATERIALS, WATER CONSERVATION, WASTE MANAGEMENT, POLLUTION CONTROL, ETC. THE GREEN SKILL CAN BE DIVIDED INTO TWO CATEGORIES—DEVELOPING GREEN SKILLS FOR THE EXISTING WORKFORCE AND SKILLING WORKFORCE FOR GREEN JOBS.
Marking the first anniversary of the Skill India Mission on July 15, 2016, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship announced the launch of new initiatives—Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 2.0, India International Skill Centres, India Skills Online, and a Labour Management Information System (LMIS)—thereby, reinforcing the Ministry’s commitment to the youth of India. Skill India is seeing great traction and is all geared to meet its philosophy of speed, scale, and standards, ensuring there are ample opportunities for everyone to acquire skills. The Union Cabinet has approved Rs 22,000 crore worth of outlay for programmes, such as Apprenticeship Protsahan Yojana and PMKVY 2.0, to be implemented over the next few years. Given the realities of the rapidly changing economic landscape in the country, entrepreneurship opportunities have emerged as an important source of meeting the growing aspirations of the youth. An all-inclusive approach, which is competent, quality conscious, market savvy, innovative, and comprises globally competitive entrepreneurs, to strengthen the entrepreneurship development scenario in the country, needs to be carefully mentored and encouraged.Skills need to be an integral part of employment and economic growth strategies to spur employability and productivity. Coordination with other national macroeconomic paradigms and growth strategies is, therefore, critical. For a skills strategy to be successful, it should be complemented by commensurate creation of jobs in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.
Dr P Saxena, Chief Executive Officer, Skill Council for Green Jobs, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, India. Email: email@example.com.