Hyderabad: The Centre is deeply invested in skilling and vocational training, but the current business ecosystem is not conducive to its success, said Mr K.P. Krishnan, secretary, skill development and entrepreneurship. He also said the primary education sector had failed to prepare people for jobs and to earn their livelihoods.
Mr Krishnan was speaking at the Education Summit, organised by the Telangana unit of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in Hyderabad on Friday.
He said that if one were to evaluate the work of his ministry, which was formed in November 2014, there would be two clear lessons. “Our training programmes have reached a lot of people. We have scaled to many people. This is definitely due to the reach and power of the Government of India. This is indeed low-hanging fruit. However, we have failed at one thing: the demand for formal skilling continues to be very limited.”
Explaining this paradox, considering that several speakers from the industry had batted for more skilling programmes, he said, “The main reason for low demand for formal skilling is because 74 per cent of the country’s workforce is employed in firms with less than 20 employees. What the rest of the world thinks of as tiny or nano firms, dominate India. Another reason is that 80 per cent of non-agricultural workforce is employed in the informal sector. This is not an ecosystem that is conducive to skilling.”
Mr Krishnan said industry was not asking for vocationally-trained people.
“They simply want someone with basic skills, also known as soft skills - reading, writing, literacy. They tell us, “Leave the skilling to us. We will teach the candidate carpentry, retailing and other trades. It is clear that domain training is not the challenge. But basic skill training, the seemingly easy part, is the challenge,” he said. Since a student does not have basic skills at the end of his schooling, and has to be trained separately for the same, it could be said that the primary education sector in the country had failed in its objectives entirely, he explained.
The bureaucrat pointed out that skilling programmes post-1991, after economic reforms, should have focused on the service sector. “But we have seen that most skilling continues to happen in the manufacturing sector,” he said.
Mr Krishnan suggested that to improve the situation, there must be a focus on making the vocational education system more learner-centric.
“We need to connect with the employers. It is the small firms that need skilled employees. They are the largest job generators in the country. I will also suggest making states equal partners in vocational education, since the subject is part of the Concurrent List of the Constitution,” he said.
Telangana State Council for Higher Education chairman T. Papi Reddy and CII Telangana chairman D. Raju were present at the event.