Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Skill India programme in July on the first-ever World Youth Skills Day.
A month later, in far-away Sao Paulo, Brazil, a teenager from Telangana, was winning a medal at the 43rd World Skills Competition, considered the Olympics of skills.
Parashuram Nayak is a construction worker in Pune, who followed his parent’s occupation, after he completed his tenth class in Telengana, his home state. He got the medal for brick-laying. “It was a great experience, competing against candidates from more than 50 countries,” Nayak said. “Now I have started training other people also, and earn much more than I did.”
The underlying story is of the skills imparted to Nayak at Kushal, a joint project of Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) that aims to improve the skills of 100,000 construction workers by 2021.
Jaiprakash P Shroff, the chairman of Kushal, oversaw Nayak’s training. A developer himself, he said skilled workers could increase saving of material and reduce reworks in construction.
“By a rough estimate, 8 to 10% is wastage in construction. This can be brought down to less than 3% by employing right skills,” he said. “For a 100,000 square-foot project, you can save about Rs 30-40 lakh.”
Skills are not just about manual labour. At the Sao Paulo competition, India won medallion of excellence in nine categories that included beauty therapy, welding, graphic design and jewellery-making.
Be it IT, manufacturing or agriculture, the country needs skilled workers.
Said Mohandas Pai, former Infosys CFO and chairman, Manipal Global Education Services: “For jobs that require high level of skill, we find there is a shortage of people with right level of skills. For low-skill jobs we find there are more people than the number of jobs.” There is a mismatch, and a costly one, as many IT companies spend years to re-train graduate trainees to get them right skills – both time and money wasted.
Industry, not just government, has a big role in skill development, said Dilip Chenoy, MD and CEO of NSDC. “Creating a pull for youngsters to take up skill development and involving the industry to improve productivity and skill is the major theme of programmes like Worldskill. We have now about 7 big companies with turnover more than 200 crores cooperating with NSDC.”