TODAY -

NEP for Skill India

Kamal Baruah *



While British were leaving our country, it opened up huge employment opportunities to independent India. The trend continued many a decade. But the sixth five-year plan (1980-85) marked the beginning of economic liberalisation and job scenario has been changed from monotonous task to technical know-how.

Ironically India’s skills and education failed to live up with global human capital index. Europe dominates the global league table for skills and education. Only two representatives from Asia namely Japan and New Zealand can enter in top 10 places. Finland, Norway and Switzerland come top of the table.

Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development. India currently faces a severe shortage of well-trained, skilled workers. It is estimated that only 2.3 % of the workforce has undergone formal skill training as compared to 68% in UK, 75% in Germany, 52% in USA, 80% in Japan and 96% in South Korea.

Large sections of the educated workforce have little or no job skills, making them largely unemployable. India must focus on scaling up skill training efforts to meet the demands of employers and drive economic growth.

Also UNICEF data has recently warned South Asian countries where India’s 54% of youth won’t have skills for 21st century jobs. They leave secondary school without getting skills needed for a decent job. One lakh of young South Asians enter the labour market every day.

Unemployment at 8.45% is a barrier to India’s economic growth. Joblessness in Auto, Telecom and IT is all set to rise. Technology giant Infosys have to cut jobs and public sector BSNL is winding up. Will India start skilling its youth? The low quality of education and sub-optimal vocational training failed to give the desired skill levels for the market demands. The world of work is changing fast.

Investing better and modern education could create better opportunities for young people to enter the job market. National Skill Development Mission was launched on 2015 on the occasion of World Youth Skill Day to create convergence across sectors and states in terms of skill training activities.

All school students must have at least one vocational education in grade nine to 12. India has the potential to provide a skilled workforce to fill the expected shortfall in the ageing developed world. Each poor and under-privileged youth is a soldier in this war on poverty. They must be well guided by the nation.

The draft reports of NEP - National Education Policy 2019 headed by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan have been submitted to HRD ministry for implementation by the next year. The aim of NEP is to equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to eliminate the shortage of manpower in science, technology, academics and industry.

Will this path breaking reform seek to address the challenges faced by the current education system? India’s GER – Gross Enrolment Ratio in higher education is pretty low (25%) in comparison with China 39%, USA 86% and Germany 65%.

NEP 2019 aims to increase GER to 50% by 2035. The NEP highlights for early childhood care and education for all between the ages of 3 and 6. It wants integration of vocational and academic streams for all students. Curriculum framework has been designed for 5-3-3-4 type with reforms in school examination and high quality liberal education.

India’s VET - Vocational Education Training has been caught in a time warp as large chunk of the students find themselves handicapped when they seek jobs. China has a law mandating nine years of compulsory education on VET covering 47% of vocational secondary education whereas it’s a big black hole for India. This figure is just 3 per cent.

Although IITs make a name globally for India, ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) yet to make global recognition for producing quality skilled manpower. The result saw Chinese goods choking Indian industry and economy.

Interestingly, Armed forces have fully equipped with skilled manpower for which they are trained themselves. They have best trained infantry to technician working for high end fighter aircraft. All these happen due to its precise training.

India’s spending on research and innovation is not encouraging. It is just 0.7% of GDP with China 2.1, USA 2.8 and Israel 4.3. Also public investment in education is 2.7% in compare with USA 5%, UK 5.5% and Brazil 6%. We have just 15 researchers per lakh with China 111, USA 423, and Israel 825.

Probably India still practices stagnant education where we stick with mid day meal, adult education and three language formula for national integration in 21st century. Getting a PG in medical is pinnacle of success for any graduate. But India’s doctor deprived for unavailability of seats. India has only 6 institutes mostly IITs among the top 500 in the world.

Other Indian universities are lagging behind global competitors and are being busy with conferring degrees. Engineers ended up their studies with a job in non engineering field. Agri graduates found no interest in agriculture.

There are no takers for Veterinarians for animal husbandry. There are few entrepreneurs for capturing potential market. In history, we saw college droppers from Henry Ford to Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs who made it big in business.

The future of work won’t be about college degrees, it will be about job skills. Tech giants such as Apple, IBM and Google require no degree but offering well-paying jobs with non traditional education or even a diploma.

India has more than fifteen thousand ITIs but there are no jobs, no skills. What a sorry state from its demographic advantage. It requires revamping training programmes to yield dividends. Also there is a need to change the mindset of people regarding vocational training which is considered a last resort.

We are obsessed with academic qualification. We are proud of IITs, IIMs and AIIMS for source of rich human capital and at the same time, we have a large number of degree holders that don’t equip with appropriate skills and abilities. That requires urgent attention. Without NEP, no changes are envisaged in the immediate future.


* Kamal Baruah wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is a freelance writer based in Guwahati and a former Air-warrior with IAF and currently working for SBI
The writer can be contacted at kamal(DOT)baruah(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on December 05, 2019.



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