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BW Businessworld

India Needs Skill Development On A Big Scale

RISE India has emerged as the largest driver training company and is expanding aggressively in this area, says CEO Ajay Chhangani

For the first time in the history of India, the 11th five year plan (2007-2012) dedicated an entire chapter to skill development in India. Since then we are in no position to claim ourselves to be even remotely equipped to handle the challenges arising due to a large population base. More than 60 per cent of population is in the age group of 15 to 59 years, which makes India home to the largest employable manpower base. There arises an overpowering need for skilled workers in India.

While the government continues to do its job, the private sector has a very crucial role to play in skilling the ecosystem of India. BW Businessworld interviewed Ajay Chhangani, CEO and co-founder of RISE India, a prominent education and training organisation, on the need for India's education, vocational and skill training development.

What are the core issues today faced by the government with respect to skill training despite of initiatives like Skill India and Make in India?
There is a lack of skilled manpower in the industry, and we need to assess the situation from ground level and evaluate the existing education and vocational training sectors. Reports reveal that only 2% of India's youth and about 7% of the whole working age population have received vocational training, where 92% constitutes informal workers. Informal employment is poorly paid and has no social security. Moreover, there is a huge gap between wages of regular workers and informal/contract workers. Despite movements like Skill India and Make in India, skill development needs to take place on a larger scale. There are huge budgetary constraints to reach out to such vast young population and also, industry participation is still low.

There seems to be a mismatch between the education and skill that people acquire and the skills that the industries seek from the workforce. How can we bridge this gap, especially private players?
The skills and employability of the 250 million young people joining the workforce over the next decade is crucial. Private players should focus on industry-specific training as well as life skill to promote a holistic development of an individual. To produce employable youth, there has to be a constant engagement with the industry along with continuous upgradation of content based on the industry demand. Skill development institutes should create opportunities for on-job training and apprenticeship, with a key focus on life skills including behaviour skills, flexibility, and communication etc.

Tell us about your skill development initiatives/programs. Which are the sectors in which RISE India provides skill development programs?
RISE India has taken a great initiative in enhancing the skill capacity of the youth. We have conceptualised new projects and partnerships to increase the country's employability and have also, initiated one of the prominent movements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi - Skill India movement. Through our rigorous skill development and training initiatives, the organization has accomplished to train nearly 1 lakh candidates across India offering free skill training and development to candidates. We have a presence in over 10 states, with 85 skill development centres and smart classes in 100 school campuses.

What are the future projects or the ongoing investment of RISE India?
RISE India is now the largest driving training company and is expanding aggressively on this domain. We have signed a MoU with Rajasthan government which will help us to educate and increase the employability of youth in Rajasthan. Simultaneously, we have received funding support of Rs. 14 cr from NSDC for driving training to set up Driver Training Institutes across the country, with a target of training 2.5 lakh youth over the next7 years. Also, many more projects are in pipeline like RISE India partnership with Ola and we are planning to invest in Australia. Moreover, we are exploring opportunities to invest in existing skill development firms in Australia and more opportunities in tuition space and other education start-ups.

What should the government in partnership with the private sector do to bring about a change in this area. How to develop a successful PPP model for skill development in India?
If India has to succeed in its skill mission, then PPP (Public-Private Partnership) needs to be extended to PPPP. Additional P is for people as it has to become a people movement without which reaching out to such a vast young population in such a short time is extremely difficult. Apart from this, industry participation has to be increased to the highest. The industry needs to come forward and help the ecosystem to understand the demand better and create programs in accordance with industry, bridging the widened gap. Industry can also directly contribute through its CSR contribution. This can bring much needed financial support and can build additional capacity. Formulation of a dedicated ministry is the most important step in this category.




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