8 Feb 2012

Skilling India : Mission Possible

Decades back, Mahatma Gandhi said, “The soul of India lives in its villages”. It’s true & even more crucial today. While India’s economic progress has happened in few cities & select metros, the potential & opportunity at the bottom of pyramid – the rural market is now waiting to be harnessed. Economists, marketers, educationists, corporate houses and even the government machinery have taken cognizance of this huge opportunity, which has pushed skill development at the forefront of nation building.

500 million to be skilled by 2022 – is a huge mandate and cannot be accomplished by various stakeholders individually. As India wakes up to the urgent need of skilled workers, efforts are being made to hasten the initiatives in the field of skills development and vocational training. According to a Planning Commission report, at present, only 10 per cent of the workforce in the country has some form of skill training (2% with formal training and 8% with informal training). This is extremely low when compared with countries like Korea (96%), Germany (75%), Japan (80%), and the United Kingdom (68%).

There is a huge mismatch between number of jobs available and the availability of skilled talent. The skill-demand gap as highlighted in the India Labour Report of 2009: around 13 million new entrants join the workforce every year, but the existing formal vocational training capacity has been accessed by only 1.3 per cent of these—or less than 0.2 million people. The mismatch is primarily due to the fact that 90% of employment opportunities require vocational skills but 90% of our colleges / schools rely just on text book knowledge in terms of solutions towards education and employability.

The answer to address challenges for skill development lies in recognizing the need to grow and generate awareness about the skill development and vocational training sector, make it aspirational so that people start looking for it as a preferred option and also making the vocational education mainstream.

Following are some of the trends/ best practices that we all should collectively focus on to make the Skilling India: Mission Possible

Learn from global best practices & localize them to suit requirements of Indian economy: Explore & replicate the concept of Sector Skill Councils (SSC) as used in UK- their leadership, governance and strategy to create an employer-led demand driven skill ecosystem. Another useful practice could be apprentice system used in Germany – which combines on the job training with theoretical knowledge. Likewise there are successful models from Scotland, Australia that can be localized to suit requirements of the Indian market.

Create a Talent pool of Skill Instructors & Trainers: Large scale training & scalable interventions will require millions of skill instructors, trainers & assessors without which the entire value chain of skill building would be incomplete. It’s the collective responsibility of all the stakeholders to create a mechanism whereby we incentivize, reward and recognize the skill instructors who will actually lead the skill revolution from the front.

Link Skill Training to Employment Generation: We believe that the model – first train and then find job should be reversed. Its actually wastage of training effort, time and other resources when skilled talent is not able to find the job suited to their skills. That’s why we at Centum Learning work backwards – first understand industry requirements, get letters of intents from various organizations, mobilize and train candidates accordingly and thereafter provide suitable placements – ensuring that skill training is utilized properly and candidates are able to find a suitable job after the skills training programme.

Collaboration vis-à-vis Competition: the opportunity and mandate is so humongous that instead of competing and outdoing each other, companies in the skill building space should collaborate and complement each other to build a demand driven skilled talent pool for building an employable India. There is enough room for everyone to complement each other strengths.


  1. Shalabh Srivastava says:

    Dear Sanjeev,

    It is quite encouraging to read your views on Skill Development and especially about the scope of collaboration.
    We at Matrix Clothing also believe in such model. Regards, Shalabh

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