Skills Development for Youth in India

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Alisha Kapoor

15 Nov,2018

Today, youth across the world face grave tests about skills and jobs, challenges basically different from those their parents faced. In the globalized economy, race has become exaggerated among firms and industries in emerging and developed countries alike, requiring their workers to have higher levels of skills to allow them to involve in innovation, increase the quality of products/services, and upturn efficiency in their construction processes or even to the point of refining the whole value chain process. Quick technological change demands a greater strength of knowledge and skills in creating, applying and diffusing technologies. In turn, all these have changed the nature, contents, and types of skills that business demands. As a result, most countries of late moved to reform their education systems, to upgrade the skills of their workforces.

The challenges are larger for developing countries like India, which have long agonised from a dearth of skilled labour. But today, developing-country firms and producers have become progressively involved in the global value chains, wanting them to meet comprehensive standards of quality and efficiency. This, in turn, requires advanced levels of skills in the workforce. Moreover, many countries today need more skilled workers to strive in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), as it is a feasible strategy for carrying progressive technologies to their domestic industries, increasing their foreign trade, and thereby boosting industrial and economic development; the accessibility of, and even the stock of skilled workforce in a country is an important factor for multinational firms considering investments.

In considering skills development for youth, India is mainly fascinating for several reasons. First, it is projected to have the world’s major population in the next several years, as it grows too big for China. Unlike China’s population, which is getting old, India enjoys a large demographic dividend. The majority of its population is young. Furthermore, India’s labour market has usually been branded as highly graded and segmented, with 86% of total engagement in the informal sector, together with self-employment. Third, India has lately experienced fast economic growth, mainly led by the service sector. Yet, despite its fast economic growth since the outline of economic reforms in 1991, employment has grown slowly, mainly in the private sector, making the 1990s and 2000s a period of jobless growth. This has had grave consequences for youth, as most new candidates in the labour markets, with the majority of youth, have ended up working in the informal sector, often for low salaries deprived of social security benefits and long-term job security. Fourth, though education opportunities in primary and lower secondary schooling have extended rapidly, the majority of Indian youth, mainly in rural areas, still have very restricted education and training opportunities.

Preparing for Entry to the Workforce:


Traditionally, training for fruitful employment has been a private matter. Persons acquired skills through training or on-the-job training and backed their training through reduced wages during the learning period. The industrial revolution of the 19th century transformed the construction of employment. A hierarchically organized work force, in which entry-level jobs required relatively few skills but a great level of industrialized discipline, substituted the single craftsman who individually passed out all the tasks related with a product. In the early part of the 20th century education reformers presented vocational groundwork to the prospectus of secondary education, and the vocational school was born.


As the skills content of jobs amplified with the acceptance of modern technologies, and as the number of students completing a secondary education in advanced countries grew, more vocational content was presented. For many emerging countries this change is yet to happen as accomplishment rates of primary education continue to be low along with access to secondary education. Another change was the lower level of development and industrialization and the demand generated for vocational graduates. The model of employment for these former students was the so-called modern-sector marked by large public and private enterprises by modern production methods. This type of service often represents less than a quarter of total service in emerging economies where service is mainly in small-holder agriculture and urban informal sector comprised of small enterprises and the self-employed, that generally operate outside prevailing industrial and labour regulations.

Vocational schooling formulating youth for entry-level work has been part of the education culture. Unlike the historical growth of skills in enterprises through internships and on-the-job training, vocational schooling monitored the education model with the use of credentialed instructors, time-based delivery, and academic degrees delivered on satisfactory completion of an approved curriculum. The education culture with its importance on credentials, time-based delivery, and theoretical degrees tends to be preferred over the training culture with its focus on competency, efficacy in delivery, and skill certification. Preparation of youth for work can be achieved by using a master craftsman who may lack educational degrees but has the ability to express his knowledge to the fresh worker through practical exercises, and to verify the level of skills acquired.

In recent times, India has finally become serious about skills development, announcing a series of education and training reforms. Also, to increase the quality of training, the administration introduced the concepts of competency-based training and training modules. This has altered the basis for endorsing vocational training from duration to competence. Now youths can have their skills acknowledged irrespective of their educational and employment paths

Empowering youth:


Starting from scratch since its inception in 2010, Council of Education and Development program (CEDP) Skill Institute Mumbai, has come a long way, filling the serious gap in the university educational system by organising career development and Skill based programmes/courses and for various target groups. It has been designing and operating various skills-based and career-oriented short-term certificate courses, diploma courses for hotel management for student and non-student school dropouts and unemployed youth. So far, the institute has trained more than 3000 candidates through short-term courses at their various campuses across Mumbai.


Alongside offering Skill-based and Career Oriented Continuing Education Programmes through industrial/ institutional tie-ups, leading to Certificate /Diploma, CEDP has been functioning as an autonomous entity, The target group for various courses includes student and non-student youth, current students of schools and colleges, school dropouts, employees, SHG members, senior citizens and junior citizens of the society. CEDP Skill Institute has found that helping young adults to shape the future direction of their careers is a crucial and critical aspect of their talent development. The Institute has also addressed this issue by conceptualizing and starting Youth empowerment as one of the pillars.


To Conclude:


For India to promote industrial development and achieve sustainable growth, it must increase its investment in education and training for youth. In particular, to move further into a knowledge-based economy and move up the value chain, it is indispensable for India to improve the quality of education at every level. Second, the focus of India’s skills development system does not correspond to either the level of skills demanded by industry or the overall levels of education of most young people. Thus, the government must ensure that most young people at least finish lower secondary school. Third, to open training opportunities for youths who have not completed secondary education, it would be helpful to create more courses at ITIs with lower levels of educational requirements. Fourth, training for the informal sector needs to be strengthened. 

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Alisha Kapoor

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