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Declare 2012 as year of 'Proud to be Skilled Indian'

Sunday December 25, 2011 11:51:50 AM, Vijay Thadani, IANS

Never before in the history of any country has human capital development been such a key focus area as 2011 was for India, marking the beginning of exciting times. Determined to leverage the demographic dividend and reach the goal of skilling 500 million, India created many ripples in 2011. Four themes dominated the year in the context of skills development:

Private Industry participation in skills development
Skills development in India got a fillip when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh constituted the National Council on Skills Development in 2008 and the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) thereafter. For NSDC, this year has been one of the best -- a-one-of-its-kind public-private partnership formed to contribute significantly to the charter of skilling Indians.

The corporation forged many new partnerships to train people, including joint ventures with the Bharti Group for 11.5 million, with Everonn for 15 million, with Future Group for seven million and with NIIT for another seven million. As of its last month's report, they have approved 34 training projects and eight sector skills councils, covered 177 districts, set up 2,427 centres, touched 20 sectors and have already set up the foundation required to train 58.6 million people in 10 years.

In addition, under a special scheme, industry showed interest in joining hands with NSDC to induct youth from Jammu and Kashmir to train them in special skills at their facilities across India. Appointment of an industry veteran, former Tata Consultancy chief executive S. Ramadorai as an advisor to the prime minister in NSDC with the rank of a cabinet minister, is yet another path-breaking achievement this year.

Private participation extended beyond NSDC and many companies came forward. Fiat India Automobiles launched "Diksha" to provide educational avenues and technical training for youth. Axis Bank and Bandhan jointly launched a Rs.100-crore initiative on providing skills training and assets to the marginalised in West Bengal.

Higher secondary education reform
The Ministry of Human Resource Development launched the revised centrally-sponsored scheme of vocationalisation of higher secondary education. To promote vocational training in schools, the government established a vocational education cell within Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). The scheme also helps create a bridge between academia and industry. The National Occupational Standards (NOS) developed by the sector skills councils formed by NSDC will govern the activities in vocational education.

In the area of higher education, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal advocated the need for mobility of students from one university to the other. The number of engineering seats went up to 1.3 million in 2010-11 and the country initiated talks on how to make the selection process for Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and other engineering colleges more stress-free for the students.

Job creation remained a key challenge
The government could create only one million jobs against the target of 50 million jobs during the 11th Plan period that ends March 31, 2012. It has now set a daring target of creating 60 million jobs during the 12th Five Year Plan.

As a step towards this, the government unveiled a new Manufacturing Policy that promises 100 million new jobs. India is also on the path to dusting off the Apprentices Act to create an industry-driven apprenticeship regime.

Changing the social perception of skills
This was the first year when the WorldSkills Competition got significant coverage in the media in India. A 16-member India contingent participated in the competition in London. While Indians did not win any medals, they surely showed the determination to become the skills reservoir of the world by participating in the event.

Path forward
As we move to the next year, we appear to be in the right direction, even though we know we have a long way to go. Skills do not form the social fabric of India as yet. To have social currency in India, the acceptable tags are generally of an engineer, a doctor, a master of business administration. Skills, such as plumbing, electrician and masonry have little social currency, and this is evident even in our matrimonial advertisements. Changing the social perception about skills, therefore, is our big challenge for 2012. Creating a social epidemic called 'Get Skilled' should be one of our key focus areas.

We should also look at launching events such as 'Indian Skills Idol' and have popular brand ambassadors to endorse pride in skills. Then we will not be apologetic about our 1.2 billion population. We can be an enviable reservoir of 1.2 billion skilled people. Let's declare 2012 as: "The Year of 'Proud to be a Skilled' Indian."


Vijay Thadani id CEO of NIIT Limited and Chairman of CII's Northern Region. He can be reached at









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