On-the-Job Training is Key to Enhancing Manpower Skill

India’s socio-economic dynamics are entirely different. The quotient of multifaceted deprivation and struggle for survival force the majority of the people to get into gainful jobs at whatever compensation is available and supplement the family’s income. It underscores the need for on job training (OJT), which makes things easier not only for job seekers but job providers as well when most of the workforce which enters the job market is devoid of employable skills. As per India Skills Report-2022 by Wheebox, only 48.7 percent of total youth in the country is employable and the highest employable age group is 22 to 25 years. In 2018, a New Delhi-based economic think tank-National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER)-brought out a report. It was titled ‘No time to lose.’

The report estimated that India had about 468 million people in its workforce. Around 92 per cent of them were in the informal sector. Around 31 per cent were illiterate and only 13 per cent had a primary education, and only 6 per cent were college graduates. Further, only about two per cent of the workforce had formal vocational training, and only 9 per cent had non-formal, vocational training. It also said that almost 1.25 million new workers-aged 15-29-were projected to join India’s workforce ‘every month’ through 2022. The report also pointed out that out of more than five lakh final-year bachelors students aged 18-29 who were surveyed, around 54 percent of them were found to be unemployable.

The ground realities are certainly not encouraging at all, and hence there is no scope for any kind of complacency on the part of all stakeholders. The situation is quite alarming in the unorganized sector but we must extend kudos to our traders, entrepreneurs and industrialists who are contributing so significantly to the country’s economic empowerment by investing hugely in the skill upgradation of their workforce while on job. In fact, the first six months’ salaries qualify to be stipends for employees during which they learn skills and start making positive contributions. It is not a healthy situation when we are aspiring to be a $ 5 trillion economy by 2030.

FIGURE OUT FROM FIGURES

OJT plays a vital role in building the competencies of employees to perform their job in an effective manner and can hold better positions in future with efficient capabilities, which increase the organizational productivity significantly. For a sustainable economy and inclusive development, we need to arm our masses with skills for which multiple initiatives are underway as a part of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY).

The results are encouraging but certainly not in commensurate with the needs of the industry. The new National Education Policy-2020 (NEP-2020) has rightly stressed on vocational education right from the school level. It will certainly yield positive results but only in the long term. We need short and medium term strategies to fill the gaps so far as the demands for skilled workforce are concerned.

Under the PMKVY-3.0, over 1.36 crore youth are being trained across the country. Since the inception of the program in 2015, as on 31 December 2021, 4.22 lakh candidates were trained under the Short Term Training (STT) and 7.17 lakh candidates were oriented under the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in the north eastern states. Over 7.5 lakh youth have been trained across industries under the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS). More than 14 lakh people have been trained under Jan Shaksham Sansthan (JSS).

Data are quite impressive. To add, every year 25 lakh youth are imparted training at various Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and 25 lakh youth are being trained under fee-based programs. The STT component imparted at PMKVY Training Centers (TC) is expected to benefit candidates who are either school or college dropouts or unemployed. Apart from providing training according to the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF), TCs also impart training in soft skills, entrepreneurship, financial and digital literacy. Upon successful completion of assessment, candidates are provided placement assistance by training providers.

Let us admit that there are serious gaps in our endeavors to supply skilled workforce to the industry, notwithstanding multiple training capsules we have for the trainees who are first time learners and reskilling for the trainees or existing workforce who have already undergone formal or informal skilling and need additional skill sets. The NSQF training in English, Employability and Entrepreneurship (EEE) module sounds good but might not be able to create a resilient, skilled workforce which meets domestic and international standards and requirements.

IDENTIFY THE SKILL GAP

A skill gap study should be initiated by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in coordination with industries and to identify the upgradation of manpower skills requirements in various sectors of the economy and the skill sets required for the respective job roles. A District-level Skill Development Plan (DSDP) should also be prepared to create a state-level Skill Development Plan (SSDP) to cater to the demand-based target.

WAY FORWARD

On the job training (OJT) is a viable option if implemented well. The Central and state governments should share some financial burden of unskilled workforce with the employers for at least six months. Thereafter, they will fully be the responsibility of the industries. One needs to know that there is a colossal mismatch between demand and supply of skilled workforce. The best way to handhold them is through OJT. The OJT will act as a stimulant for workers to improve their performance and capabilities, which will ultimately benefit their employers.

An identical initiative was undertaken during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Common Norms Committee (CNC) for Skill Development Schemes has decided that 1.5 percent of the average training cost per trainee for three months or 1.5 percent of the hourly base cost rate, as applicable as per the category of trade undergoing the training, may be allowed as Covid-19 allowance. Under ‘Customized Crash Course Program for Covid Warriors’ launched by the Union Ministry of Skill Development, the Confederation of Indian Industry through its network of 16 distinct hospitals imparted skilling to youth.

The objectives of the customized crash course are to meet the upsurge in demand of skilled healthcare workers, reduce the burden of healthcare professionals and provide timely healthcare services in the country. Similar courses can be initiated for the MSME sector. The idea is to make the most of the available workforce in the country. Given the quality of education in rural areas from where the organized and unorganized sectors get maximum workforce, OJT seems to be a viable option.

The writer is co-founder and MD, Orane International, Training Partner with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Network Member, India International Skill Centers, an initiative of GoI. Views expressed are personal.

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