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Skilling’s the New Game in Town

The government’s vigorous championing of skill development is prompting the industry to take matching initiatives.

By Mrinmoy Bhattacharjee

A skilled workforce is one of the engines of economic growth. Nations that nurture an ecosystem for skilling through formal vocational training are able to better handle their issues of employment and incomes. In India, barely 2.2% of its population between ages of 15 and 59 has received any form of formal vocational training, and only 8.6% have got non-formal training, as revealed by the National Sample Survey Office 2011-12 report. This grim reality is the result of a public perception that vocational training is the last resort for those who could not pursue a formal education system.

The government is determined to change mindsets by making vocation aspirational. And for the first time in the history of the country, a national skill competition has been established that enables people to compete in skills as diverse as carpentry, painting, auto assembly, healthcare, beauty, graphic design, and aircraft maintenance.

Its vigorous championing of skill development is prompting the industry to take matching initiatives. This is quite evident in the building products sector, wherein a business case for skilling is emerging to make the skilling process sustainable. The corporate sector is becoming a stakeholder in the skilling game by building infrastructure that addresses the requirements of communities rather than just internal. Sultans of Skilling, the leaders from the industry who are contributing to the process of nation-building through their initiatives. They also include Hettich India, whose CSR-funded Hettich Poddar Wood Working Institute has set out to make woodworking aspirational in the country.

Educational institutions such as School of Carpenter Skills at Bhartiya Skill Development University, Jaipur has designed a skill-based education curriculum to build a cadre of woodworking leaders build a cadre of woodworking leaders that not just skill carpenters to fill the demand and supply gap in the industry, but also train them for managerial and administrative tasks for climbing up the ladder and occupy these elite positions.

Sector skill councils such as the Furniture and Fittings Skill Councils (FFSC) are identifying vocational training as a viable business enterprise. It is attracting entrepreneurs by offering them affiliations with the council become training partners. Other skill councils like the Paints and Coatings Skill Council (PCSC), and the Indian Plumbing Skills Council (IPSC) are creating the next generation of a skilled workforce that can respond to their respective industries, which is on the cusp of becoming service-driven ones. PCSC wants to certify one lakh painters by 2019 and four lakh in each subsequent Year, and IPSC eyes to certify 12 lakh plumbers by 2022.

This is a compressed version of the eight-part cover story ‘Sultans of Skilling’ published in the November-December 2018 issue of ‘Sourcing Hardware’ magazine. 

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