(The Asian Independent)
– Professor M.M .Goel*
For commemorating World Youth Skill Day (WYSD) on July 15, 2020 more than annual ritual in India, we need to understand, analyze and interpret the relevance of skills for Indian youth for surviving, existing and excelling in the covid era and beyond. Under Skill India programme, we require life skills, reading skills, writing skills, marketing skills, business skills, analyzing skills for artificial intelligence and above all verbal communication skills for Indian youth. For prosperous and progressive future of Indian youth, we need the power of skills for individuals and communities in 28 States and 9 UTs of India.
It is pertinent to mention that about 10 crore population in the age group 21-35 years have no capacity of skills or less skilled who are not employable and useful for the Indian economy. This is important in the light of the so called talked about demographic dividend of working population of 76.1 crore in the age group 15-64 in 2011 census and stands increased to about 86.9 crore in 2020. The challenge is to convert careless into careful and useless into useful human resources which call for skill development lest demographic dividend is converted into demographic disaster. We can create employment opportunities for about 30-35 percent working population by strengthening manufacturing sector including MSMEs which possess highest employment elasticity in the Indian economy.
It is to be noted that WYSD 2020 is taking place in a challenging time of covid pandemic and lockdown measures have led to the worldwide closure of technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions, threatening the continuity of skills development. It is estimated that nearly 70% of the world’s learners are affected by school closures across education levels currently. A survey of TVET institutions, jointly conducted by UNESCO, ILO and the World Bank reveals that distance training has become the most common way of imparting skills, with considerable difficulties of curricula adaptation, trainee and trainer preparedness, connectivity, or assessment and certification processes.
The efforts of skill development under ‘Skill India’ as development strategy for ‘Make in India’ are necessary but not sufficient. To make them sufficient and sustainable, we need to increase the return on training investment (ROTI) which calls for communication skills with spiritual input and time management. There is an urgent need of training of trainers with chain of reforms ensuring fundamental changes with greater accountability, transparency and morality (ATM) more important than the ATM of any bank. We need to make the labour market system dynamic to get demand and supply of skills on real time basis for meeting total domestic requirement of trained manpower. We have to develop a labour market information system by modernization of all the employment exchanges in public-private -partnership (PPP) mode and develop a national web portal. Abilities of head and heart, skills and knowledge (ASK) are the engines of economic growth and human resource development (HRD).
It is believed that the countries with higher and better levels of ASK respond more effectively and promptly to challenges and opportunities of competition. The new knowledge economy for achieving professional, managerial, operational, behavioural, inter personal and inter functional skills require flexible education and training system that will provide the foundation for learning to develop required competencies through spirituality- the science of soul which can make us superior to anyone in the World.
By providing skilled manpower to the outside world, we can transfer our country from a developing nation to a developed nation very easily and quickly. To make the learning more inclusive, there is a strong case for shadow trainers/teachers outside the classrooms. We need to introduce soft skills including communication skills, computer literacy, English proficiency, quality management tools, occupational safety & health and entrepreneurial development skills for the sustainability of transformation in India as independent, non-violent, democracy with integrity and amity.
To my mind, effective management in all walks of life is a function of effective communication which is necessary and sufficient skill of the present times to face the covid created challenges.
To justify the need for skills to read and write, it is worth quoting Alexander Pope, “True ease in writing come by Art not by chance as one (she/he) moves easiest who has learnt to dance”. The skill of writing is not an easy task and is an art which can certainly be developed through lot of reading. It needs to be noted that societies and nations can live without writing but no society can exist without reading.
To prove the communication skill of silence more than speaking, I wish to quote sloka no 15 of chapter 17 of Bhagvad Gita which is ism neutral religion free treatise on relationship management and welfare economics. Meditation of tongue is the need of the day for proving silence as golden and speaking as silver for avoiding blame game and the war of words. We have to learn to weave the words beautifully for strengthening the relations in the context of behaviour with the people around us in the global society .
We need to develop the abilities of head and heart, skills of morality with credibility and accountability and possess knowledge including spirituality (spirit to know actuality) as science of soul for the success and happiness in all walks of life including consumption, production, distribution and exchange.
We are required to develop the soft skills of decision making as software of information technology which is equally if not more important than the hardware. To reduce the delay in decision making, we have to learn from palli -palli ( jaldi-jaldi in Hindi) culture of South Korea with whom we share Independence Day. Speed is the ethos, the ethic and driving force (despite off-and- on errors) of Koreans at large which lead to their economic progress.
In post covid era, we have to call upon Indian youth to contribute to the recovery effort, they will need to be equipped with the skills to successfully manage evolving challenges and the resilience for adapting future disruptions. We have to support UNESCO’s theme for the day “Learning to learn for life and work” by encouraging Indian youth to develop selfie style videos that outline how their life has changed by learning a skill.
Being needonomist, I believe that the economics of education instead of increasing the value of education has devalued the real value of education. There is a strong case to strengthen the educational value of education which is more than making a person capable of earning the livelihood (conversion from unpad to Ann pad ) to adopt human values of morality and ethics as necessary and sufficient skills . We need to become street SMART (simple, moral, action oriented, responsive and transparent) in attitude and behaviour very well explained in the book “Economics of Human Resource Development in India” (2011).
We have to utilize the allocated resources for ‘Skill India’ properly, productively and practically (3P) for using the hands, heads and hearts (3H) of the Indian youth in post covid era.
*Former Vice Chancellor and Director Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Sriperumbudur (RGNIYD- An Institution of National Importance, Government of India). www.needonomics.com