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Reimagining the Skilling Landscape of India – The Entrepreneurship Angle

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8 in 10 of India’s workers are employed in the informal sector, according to UN estimates. In order for formal and productive employment to increase, it is important to provide a skilled workforce to the economy. In our previous blog in the series, we explored how the role of government must evolve as an entity that synergizes. Closing India’s skill deficit is a task that can be managed not just by governments or designated bodies, but it will also need the initiative of entrepreneurs across India. In order to encourage entrepreneurship in the skilling space, the government needs to play the part of a catalyst to provide an environment for enterprise to grow. 

Encouraging private entrepreneurs in the skilling sector has two-pronged benefits – it will increase the breadth of the skilling landscape and encourage small and medium entrepreneurship which when left to the forces of the market is bound to improve the quality of skilling. While the training standards and accessibility might require regulation, a skilling agenda that does not include entrepreneurs and trainers is bound to be a lopsided one.

1.Encourage Entrepreneurship in the Skill Sector:

Left to the forces of the market, competition will decide the scale and scope of the skill providers. Those organizations that are successful in job creation for their students will see a natural flow of students. The skill providers must be left to design and curate their own partnerships and models. On the same lines as education, the skilling sector has the ability to serve the demand of the skills market. A competitively driven price model will ensure more entrepreneurial initiative in the sector. 

2. Let the Market determine the Model

On the heels of giants like Aptech, NIIT etc , a range of small entrepreneurs entered the fray of skilling independently or as franchisees. This model needs replication across the skills spectrum. Market competition will decide who plays the mass game and who plays a niche excellence game. Successful Skills Providers – institutes or corporate bodies of all sizes, will help create a natural flow of students if their skilling helps culminate in a job / livelihood or better compensation. For this, the Skills Providers will devise their own partnerships and models.

3. Focus on Enabling the Trainer :

The Skills Trainer is a gig worker and can be seen as a “self-employed” freelancer whose market price depends on their skills expertise and effectiveness of training. Making the occupation of a Trainer as respectable as any school or university teacher is the key to grow a set of good quality and passionate trainers. Trainer certifications from the government, sector skills councils or private skills entrepreneurs can find a competitive space in the market where the trainer is the consumer.

4. Creating a Buy-In for the Skilling initiative

One of the shortcomings of the Skill India mission is that it hasn’t been able to fully leverage its wins to create more buy in for the initiative within its target audience – the youth. It is important to consider each Skilled Student as not just a potential entrepreneur but also an ambassador for the Skill India Mission. The more we can showcase success stories, the more we will enrol for skills certification.

5. Consider the Student as the Future Entrepreneur

Skilled Student is also a potential entrepreneur when he is able to find a better job, a better gig or start their own venture. The more we can showcase this, the more we will enrol for skills certification. Skills Quality or expertise will be the only driver of self-sustenance and upward mobility. Good strong results and track record is the only factor that will make vocational skills and careers more respectable and acceptable. It’s time to shift the focus from the large numbers of youth to be trained to facilitating small and medium private skills entrepreneurs and unlock the entrepreneurial eco-system for India’s future.

6. Streamline Vocational Training

  Under the current scheme, Vocational Training Providers (VTPs) are empanelled to provide skill intensive courses in various sectors. But there is disparity in the industry demand and number of VTPs available to furnish the courses required. Vocational training plays an important role when it comes to bridging the dismal gap of formal education in the country. To ensure that a diversity of skills is covered under vocational training, the number of VTPs in any sector should be regulated and encouraged to increase the range of their offerings. Additionally, there needs to be greater fluidity and mobility between vocational and general education by getting skill development in mainstream education. A structure of apprenticeship where theory can translate into practice should follow general education so that youth can be prepared for sectors instead of just job roles. These bridge institutes need to be driven by industry and must have proficient and progressive training methods. 

India can learn from successful global models that operate seamlessly with the highest degree of autonomy. There are many benefits to opening up the skill sector and making it more inclusive while monitoring for diversity and parity. Aimlessly creating a fragmented system of skilling will only lead to more unemployed and underemployed population that will damage the country’s economic growth, rather than accelerating it.

Read the entire series:

1. Reimagining the Skilling Landscape of India
2. Reimagining the Skilling Landscape of India – Part 2