Two-third of India's 1.2 billion population is under 35 years, making the country one of the youngest in the world, from a demographic perspective. The economic benefit of having such a large working age population is obvious. However, a significant percentage of this population is unskilled or under-skilled. Skill building is therefore a key focus area for national development. The outcome of India's skilling mission would be to mould this vast human potential into productive employees and venturesome entrepreneurs. Developing a skilled workforce will also help India leverage a global opportunity. As per the 11th Five Year Plan published by the Indian Government, there will be a shortage of 55 million skilled workers in 2022 in the rest of the world, whereas India will have a surplus of 47 million skilled workers.
Source: 1 - National Skill Development Corporation. | 2 - HRD Ministry, Indian Government 2013. | 3 - HRD Ministry, India Government 2014. | 4 - "Skill Development Initiatives in India", ISAS Special Report-National University of Singapore, July 2013, p.6. | 5 - IDFC (as published in 2011).
Although India does have a large trainable workforce, the supply pool is not always close to demand. Socio-cultural issues, migration issues further complicate the situation. The education system, not being closely linked to industry needs, creates graduates who are not readily employable. From the industry's perspective therefore acquisition and retention of new talent, especially of blue collar workers, is a major challenge.
The past five years has witnessed a lot of activity in the skilling ecosystem through efforts from both the government and private sector. However, there are major challenges that are seen. First, the attrition level at entry level jobs across most industries is high, especially during the initial months of hiring new talent. For industry, soft skills is a threshold competency and is closely linked to attrition hence is a top priority of employers. Second, the investment on upskilling of existing trainers is often neglected, which eventually affects the quality of the overall delivery of training. Third, assessment and certification suffers from authentication issues making it difficult for organisations to assess the professional capabilities of the candidate. Finally, skilling for entrepreneurship requires a more engaged approach, in addition to a conducive local ecosystem and multi-stakeholder partnerships.
Any skilling programme must address these challenges. The transition of youth into an employee/entrepreneur is a transformation process that involves behaviour change, knowledge acquisition and skill development.