Skill isn’t some activity you learn and forget over time. Skill is experience, intellect and passion acting in unison. Knowledge is not skill. Skill development in India is quite a challenge considering the population which is deprived of facilities to work on their skills. Thankfully, India is on a mission to find such talent and enhance skills.
The recent budget has rationalised customs and excise duty rates to boost Make in India, which will create the need for skill development. A sum of Rs 25,000 crore has been allotted to the development of the public sector, which would create more jobs and sharpen the focus on skill development. Providing entrepreneurship and training facilities in schools, colleges and ITIs prioritise mass employment creation and skill development.
Jobs and hirings in India must shift from being ‘qualification-based’ to ‘skill-based’. Today, almost every hiring is done using education and qualification as a surrogate for skill. This is a roadblock that the National Skill Development Mission needs to address. The budget has emphasised creating a new dynamism in the social sector.
Concentrating on creating a modern infrastructure and maintaining fiscal discipline will not lead to actual growth — focusing on the Scheduled Castes, backward classes and deprived segments, connecting them and skilling them for industry requirements is what is required.
Governance and ease of doing business will attract more investors, but does not solve the skills shortage. People’s potential must be recognised, refined and exposed to opportunities.
There should be an unprecedented focus on providing quality education to the deprived segments and child labour must be abolished. These two issues need to be addressed on a mission mode.
The responsibility of developing the skill sets shouldn’t be confined to a department or a cell. The whole country should be working towards transforming India into the skill capital of the world. Hopefully, the extended e-assessment will generate larger tax generation and this will result in greater funding for important programmes by the government. In the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “The more we give importance to skill development, the more competent will be our youth”. The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership, and that is how this country will be on the path to literacy and true sovereignty.
Few of us would regret the years it takes to complete an education or master a skill. The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.
(Farhan Pettiwala is president, Enactus India . The views expressed are personal)