Robust internships and apprenticeships can contribute in bridging the skill gap
Manufacturing has emerged as one of the high growth sectors in India. Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi, had launched the ‘Make in India’ program to place India on the world map as a manufacturing hub and give global recognition to the Indian economy.
It is also true that the Indian manufacturing sector is grappling with skill gap between educational institutes and the industry. With massive technological transformations across sectors, companies have to keep pace with the constantly shifting landscape, as do individuals, to meet the ever-evolving demands of a modern-day job.
Acquiring new skills or in other words upskilling holds the key to sustaining in this dynamic landscape. Bridging the skill gap has been a consistent endeavour from both institutes and corporates alike. While there are programs in place, they are not reflecting the change at the same pace as the change witnessed by the industry.
India has the advantage of a ‘demographic dividend’, a large young working-age population that can power the country’s transformation from a developing economy to a developed one.
The country is set to become the youngest in the world by 2020 and is projected to be home to 20 per cent of the global working age population by 2025 with 64 per cent of the population among working age group. Such a ‘demographic dividend’ comes along only once in several generations, making it crucial that India harnesses its potential.
Becoming the youngest country also means that the demand for jobs will see a substantial growth thus amplifying the challenges in the job market.
“Of all the students entering the job market across the country, hardly 2/5 meet the criteria of employment set by the employers,” found the India Skills Report 2017, put together by talent assessment firm Wheebox and supported by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the United Nations Development Programme, among others.
The increasing adoption of artificial intelligence and robotics is only set to exacerbate the problem. In its ‘Future of Jobs’ report published in 2016, the World Economic Forum predicted technology will make five million jobs redundant worldwide by 2020. The government is implementing its well-known ‘Skill India’ mission on a war footing – which aims to train 40 crore people in India in different skills by 2022.
How can companies contribute better to support this program?
Something as simple as an internship for instance, can take students outside of the classroom environment so that they can apply their skills in a practical, real-world setting.
There are several companies that actively recruit interns. At TVS Motor Company, we run a thorough, well-rounded internship and recruitment programme called Utkarsh. Through this programme, TVS Motor Company works with reputed engineering colleges in India with parameters such as entry criteria, standards, the aspiration and engagement of the student community, curriculum, pedagogy, infrastructure, placement and certifications.
Colleges are evaluated by a rigorous quality audit by a specialist committee, with 15-20 invited to participate every year. Students from the selected colleges can apply online. After a thorough multi-stage assessment process about 40 students a year on average from over 1000 applicants make it through.
Internships typically last between six to eight weeks and coincide with inter-semester breaks. Through ‘Utkarsh’, student interns are given opportunities to pursue and solve industry level problems as part of both their pre-final and final year co-curricular pursuits. They are mentored by vastly experienced people managers thereby developing their inherent curiosity towards engineering as well as honing their application skills.
All interns are evaluated with a view to absorbing them into the company. Those that meet the rigorous criteria are given pre-placement offers. Regardless of whether they are placed, they all receive a certificate recognising their efforts and performance.
This timely industry experience in the middle of academic semester provides insight and tools for students to apply the learning in college and subsequently jobs. Regular interventions like this will go a long way in upping the skillset of young individuals.
(The author is Senior Vice President – Human Resources and Information Technology, TVS Motor Company)