IACC – NHRD Skills Summit “ American Experiences – Indian Initiatives” Feb 4th, 2011 at Hotel Lalit Ashok, Bangalore
Education in India is one among various other elements that have captured the attention of the world. The growth of the Indian economy in the recent past led to a surge in demand for skilled and educated workers and the compulsion to sustain it is also forcing the Indian government to accelerate the process of developing all the branches of the Indian education system.
USA has a well developed skills development programme through the community college concept, can India learn from American experience and develop Indian initiatives to reap the full benefits of the so called demographic dividend ?
To address some of these key issues and to ensure sustainable Skilled Manpower supply not only to Indian industry but to the international economy IACC Indo US Education forum & NHRD organised a one day Skills Development Summit focusing on “American Experiences – Indian Initiatives”, in Bangalore on February 4th, 2011 at The Lalit Ashok.
Mr.Vasanth Kini, Regional President IACC-SICand Mr.R.K.Chopra Secretary General IACC welcomed the panelists and delegates for the summit and briefly spoke about the role played by IACC in promoting Indo-US Education.
Dr.Ajay Kela, President & CEO of Wadhwani Foundation stated that 950 million people in India will be in the working age group by 2020 and globally all industries and companies are going to be looking at India to meet their talent needs. Keeping this requirement in mind, Skills development has been recognised as a major issue in India that needs immediate attention. In most leading nations, a large percentage of students opt for a vocational training program i.e Germany – 51%, USA – 46% wherein in India only 5% of the students go in for vocational training.
Dr.Kela stressed on the need for industry involvement in defining and delivery of curriculum and certification to ensure an output of employable ready youth for the country. He also suggested the use of existing college infrastructure to provide a 2 year associate degree which has wide availability, is easily affordable and has a strong tie to employment.
Mr.Manish Sabharwal , CEO Team Lease Services spoke about the challenge posed by the Geographical mismatch of work in India wherein states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, TN , Karnataka & AP will account for 45% of GDP growth in the next 20 years for only 5 % of the population where as UP, Bihar, Chattisgarh, MP, Orissa will account for only 7% of GDP growth for 45% of the population. There is also a sectoral mismatch where in 100% of the net job creation has been in the informal sector.
Mr.Sabharwal stressed on the need of education, employment and employability for poverty reduction. The Government is bound to face a problem when 1 million people will join the labour force every month in the next 20 years. They should start focussing on making available affordable good quality schools to accommodate as many students as possible.
He spoke about how innovation lies between the intersection of employment and employability. He also addressed the need to convert our training courses into jobs in fine print . It is also very important to work towards manufacturing trainers and finding the ability to re-attract, re-train and upgrade existing trainers.
The next wave of innovation lies in skill financing and not skill delivery. Skills development cannot be financed unless it leads to a job.
Mr.Sabharwal also spoke about community colleges being the missing layer in India for skills development. Students need to understand that the 2 year associate degrees being offered are not normal degrees on a diet but vocational training on steroids.
In the next 20 years, education, employment and employability are going to be the biggest entrepreneurial opportunities available.
Mr.S.R.Umashankar, Commissioner Employement & Training , Govt of Karnatakaspoke about the lack of adequate study of the skills requirement of the industry thus widening the skills gap. The Govt of India and state Govts have recognised the need of skills development in driving economic development.
Skills development in the IT sector has largely promoted economic development in the country. The service sector is also a key sector which is lacking in appropriate skills development.
Mr.Umashankar stated that India has over 500 million workforce of which only 10% are skilled labourers. The Planning commission has set a target to train around 500 million over the next 12 years.
The Government has introduced various course and schemes to promote skills development .
Dr.Sankaran Raghunathan, Dean of the National Management School Chennai and Co-Chair of the IACC Indo US Education Forum spoke about how the shortage of service providers would ultimately lead to the rise in cost of these services. This gives rise in opportunity to the “ Do it yourself “ Market wherein educated workforce can get trained to handle basic skills such as plumbing / gardening etc.
Dr.Raghunathan stressed on the importance of standardisation & de-centralisation of skills. He also stated that other than the US, China would also be a good market to explore in terms of lesson on skills development. Dr.Sankaran also spoke about how most of the advanced economies have developed because privatised and for profit education providers were allowed.
Dr.Xavier Alphonse, Director of Indian Centre for Research and Development of Community Education in Chennai ventured into starting a community college model & system in India in 1996 to address the skill needs of the disadvantaged and marginalised sections of the society. He is of the opinion that India has rich human potential but lacks the opportunities to leverage the same.
Dr.Xavier Alphonse feels there is a need to create an alternate system of education in India which emphasis on skills and attitudes more than knowledge and theory. The Community College concept could be an option to this requirement.
Community Colleges aims at the empowerment of the poor, marginalized and disadvantaged sections of the society. It promotes skills development, matches education with employment, responds to industrial, employment and social needs and helps individuals to discover hidden potential. Community colleges provide easy access, flexibility in teaching and learning, is cost effective, provides equal opportunity and quality in training. In short , it responds to the un-employability problem of the nation.
Dr.Alphonse states that the community college model has been a success in India as it actively involves the industry sector into designing curriculums, serving as members of the advisory boards, providing part time instructors for teaching and on job training opportunities for students in the work place. Industry involvement also enables job placements for students and evaluation and assessment of skills.
Mr.Hari Menon, CEO of India Skills a joint venture between Manipal Education & City and Guilds addressed the VE eco system prevailing in India. Mr.Menon spoke about the need for VE, Stakeholders in the game, benefits for the stakeholders, what the stakeholders need to deliver, the need for a standardised VE framework in the country - driven by Industry only. The VE framework should identify job roles & job descriptors for all sectors, create learning objects & curriculum framework as well as assessment & certification framework too. The complete framework should be standardised for a specific sector and job role.
The sector skills councils, which are initiatives by NSDC are a good example and way forward for skills development where each industry sector has a council that drives the skills agenda for that sector.
He also highlighted that the current problem faced was not only un-employment but also under-employment, hence the need to vocationalise education in India.
Mr.Hari Menon also touched upon the BIG issue of lack of acceptance and recognition for VE in India - both, by learners and industry. Until and unless Industry starts recognizing VE at the same level as formal education and starts mandating certification and until and unless Industry differentiates between certified and non-certified candidates, VE WILL NEVER REACH THE INFLECTION POINT. And when it reaches the inflection point is when VE will be taken by CHOICE (scaleable learner paid model and not a grants based model) and not by FORCE.
Mr.John Halder, Global Outreach Consultant of Community Colleges for International Development Inc, USA provided a presentation representing the American Association of Community Colleges. The focus was on providing an overview of the US system, and how community colleges address the issues of skills training. In his remarks he focused especially on the close relationships that colleges have with business and industry, society and higher education including advisory committees on curriculum, that keeps the course content fresh and relevant.
Mr.Halder stated that almost 50% of the under graduates in the US attend community colleges and the average age of a community college student is 29 years. There are about 2000 community colleges spread across 50 states in the US. The US is looking at creating a seamless education system from K-12, through community colleges and into higher education.
Ms.Gouri Gupta, Lead Strategy & Programme Development, NSDCaddressed the various opportunities in the skills landscape. She stated that out of 130 million people who enter into the education space, only 1.2 million actually graduate. Vocational training enrolment in India is the one of the lowest in the world.
According to a NSDC study, there is an estimated skill gap of about 240 million in India across 21 sectors. Some of the major sectors affected are textiles/clothing, construction & auto / auto components. By 2021 almost 70% of India’s population will be in the age group of 20 years-60 years where skills can be imparted.
There is a huge industrial potential in the skills space in India. The current capacity is limited and needs to grow atleast 8 times inorder to meet the demand of the industry. This makes skills development an attractive business opportunity from a profitability perspective and it is a huge business opportunity for the corporate sector. The investment climate in this space is also very favourable.
Skills development is largely unorganised with very few players and hence there is a big demand for players with brand and credibility.
NSDC was set up to encourage private sector participation in skills development. NSDC has a skills development corpus which funds upto 75% of the project cost of any organisation with scalable, sustainable business model that ensures employability of the resources trained.
Mr.S.D.Lahiri, Director of Apex Hi Tech Institute, Bangalorespoke about the role played by DGET in skills development. With globalization of the economy, the responsibility to provide trained manpower to compete globally has been assigned to DGET. Presently about 15 lakhs skilled manpower are trained in demand oriented skills under the aegis of DGET.
Dr.Selvan D, Sr.V.P- Talent Transformation at Wipro Technologiesshowcased Wipro’s initiative called “Mission 10X” which was conceived to bring about excellence in engineering education through innovation. The Mission10X Learning Approach (MxLA) was construed looking at the current teaching methodology used in the institutes of engineering and the capabilities of the faculty in these institutes. The implementation of this approach helped empower engineering faculty especially in rural India with innovative teaching techniques using which they can help learners.
The closing session was highlighted by a panel discussion which was chaired by the eminent Mr.Anand Sudarshan, CEO & MD of Manipal Education andsupported by Mr.John Halder, Global Outreach Consultant, Community Colleges for International Development Inc, USA, Mr.S.J.Amalan, Regional Director, Regional Directorate of Apprenticeship Training, Kolkatta and Mr.Mahesh Ramalingam, Director-Talent Acquisition- Asia Pacific & Japan, Thomson Reuters.
The panel discussed the possible role that the industry should play to enable skills development strategies to be executed and implemented effectively. The industry should come together and decide on their requirements. Inorder to generate trained technicians it is very important for the education sector and the industries to work together. The industry should look at adopting students, training them and employing them to ensure they are successful.
The industry should compile specific details of skills lacking in candidates applying for jobs. Training institutes could then work on developing these skills. Innovative methods of delivering required skills to potential candidates can be adopted by the industry.
It was also suggested that industry sectors should collectively pen down job descriptions and skills requirements sector wise and every industry should pledge to follow this compilation while hiring new candidates. The training institutes can work towards training people as per the skills specifications submitted by the industry.
Mandating of VE training certification by the industry is very important. Industry / recruitment agencies should recruit only certified candidates for job vacancies.
In the US, grants / loans are provided to students by the State / Federal Government for all levels of education. Indian Government should also work towards financing students individually rather than financing institutions hence making the student responsible and accountable for the loan taken.
It was suggested that IACC should create a group of industry representatives, skills institutes and government representatives who are passionate about skills development and they can work towards driving the skills initiative. Standardisation of skills is a must. Training entities should also come together and jointly work on delivering skills.