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Monday, October 23, 2017

Trained for what?

Tuesday, 12 September 2017 11:58
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As per population projections, India is going to surpass China as the world's most populous country by 2030. The idea of harnessing human resource pool which is often referred to as demographic dividend is based on the premise that skilful human resource adds value to rest of the economic factors of production which catalyzes the growth in the economic output of a country. The economic output in turn improves quality of life which is among the prime indicators of a developed nation. Growing population makes sense only if it's growing in quality as well. It should be skilful enough to not only carve its livelihood but also add value for the society at large. Unplanned, scattered and poor quality population growth will only add poverty, misery and burden for the state to run the show. Among other factors, the mismatch between populations' skills and industry demands is what makes equation unsolvable leading to increased unemployment and sustained poverty in the economy. Coming to our State, the deep integration of skill, employment and sustainability with society has been the hallmark of our legacy. History shows that our forefathers were skilful artists and craftsmen. Skill was so deep in our economy. It was based on this indoor craftsmanship and skill that made our forefather sustain over the years. But now, the situation is different. We have more postgraduates, MBAs and engineers but no industries to absorb them; we are qualified but not employable. The skill graph in almost all economically viable industries has drastically come down and the result is a piling population of unproductive people. According to rough estimate, we have around a lakh unemployed youths in the State. A contrasting fact, however, is also that there are over a lakh of migrant workers in the State earning enough not only to feed themselves but also send a portion of their savings back home. Now these ironic facts juxtaposed against each other raise some pretty good questions. If we subtract the bottom strata of this over a lakh migrant workforce which includes purely unskilled labour, there still are a substantial number of non local workers who work as skilled staff in various sectors. For instance, one cannot find a single industrial unit in our industrial estates or business establishments or firms wherein you don't have a technical non-local worker running the show. The numbers have slowly and gradually grown over the years. The industrial unit holders find it very difficult to hire locals skilled enough to run different machines and equipments. Hiring non-locals not only becomes costly for the unit holder, more importantly, the owner is at the mercy of his technical staff, who most of the times migrate back to their home whenever any situation arises. This results in less number of working days and choked profits. Ideally, the skilled and technical human resource requirement of an economy is supplied by ITIs and polytechniques. We do have both these supply chains established with numerous employees and branches spanned across the State but somehow it seems that they have lost the plot. We also had youth empowerment years, and the ongoing year of construction worker programme (YoCW). Under the YoCW, reportedly youths are being trained for a week (5-6 days) in a skill (field), and the expectation is that through this one week training they will become expert in that skill, and would find gainful employment. Who are we trying to kid here? Clearly the thinking appears to be after getting trained for a week, they will be employed in the government sector. The point is when the focus of training a plumber is for making him eligible for a job in PHE Department and a mechanic for applying for a job in the State Transport Department, our industry and unemployment numbers will continue to slide down. The gulf created between content and quality of vocational trainings and industry requirements is what the point of concern is. What they train is obsolete and what is in demand is absent. We must realize the need to give direction to the skill quality of the future human resource growth. Otherwise the pile of unproductive people and the dependence on migrant workforce will only get deeper and irreversible.


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