Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly emphasized about the need for skill development to ensure better employment. He has mentioned this more than once; not only in his first parliamentary address but also during his first Independence Day address.
His emphasis on skills is not an isolated plea. World leaders including the likes of Barack Obama have repeatedly on various platforms called for skill development. Both, rampant unemployment and unfilled vacant positions are primarily due to a mismatch between skills actually needed and those that the market provides.
There are several reasons for the situation we are in, and there are several suggestions that have been made to improve the situation and actions taken too. The changes made to The Apprentice Act by the Government of India are a good step in this direction. Here’s my two cents worth on how we could contribute to skill development.
1. Map Skills Universally – The idea is simple! If we want to improve something we need to know where we are and where we need to go. But this in itself is a problem in the skills area. We don’t have a clear picture of where we stand in terms of our skills. We do not know about the skills that we excel in, areas where we’re lacking, etc. If skills are so important, why do we not have a stock of them at a micro and macro level? Why are we unable to adopt a scientific approach whilst planning activities?
2. Better Definition of Skills – Skills itself means different things to different people. To some it means tailoring or carpentry, to some it means effective communication or probably selling, and to some it may mean effective team management. When different people mention skill, they are referring to different things. Each one is right – their sense of skills is based on their perspective or context. We need a common platform for communication where the different things that different people refer to as skills are consolidated so that the different perspectives are captured and understood by one another. We probably need to arrange them in a manner that’s universally understood and addresses questions such as “skills on what”, “skills for what” etc.
3. Information Accessibility – If we are through the first two phases and have a created good information base on skills we should be able to take this information to the masses for them to use on a daily basis. Here the web and more importantly, smartphones can play a very vital part. It can take directly to the Point of Use (PoU). The information on skills is wealth of the nation that can be nurtured to further create wealth provided it is utilized by all anywhere and anytime.