Industry News Skills Development

Time to address the skill gap

Irfan Razack
Irfan Razack, Chairman, Prestige Group, talked to The Hindu PropertyPlus on the sidelines of the convocation for the first batch of students graduating out of Rustomjee Prestige Vocational Education and Training Centre. Excerpts:

Objective of the training centre

Vocational education is the next big revolution, as is being repetitively communicated through the Centre’s Skill India Mission. While it is already a time-tested model prevalent in China, Germany, Australia, Switzerland and other countries, this much-needed transformation is taking place in India only now. The project is of great interest to me, as it focuses on bridging the gap between skills required and human resources available. This is the stepping stone for heralding skilled workforce that follow industry norms and standards.

How do you quantify the requirement in the construction sector?

The workforce in the construction and real estate sector will touch the figure of 76 million by 2,022, according to the National Skill Development Corporation’s (NSDC) report on Human Resource and Skill Requirement published in 2013-14. A total of 97% of workers in the age of 15 to 65 are likely to have no training before they start working.

This is indicated by the findings of the National Sample Survey Organisation. A survey by in 2015 says that only 4% of India’s workforce is skilled as compared to 96% in South Korea, 80% in Japan, 74% in Germany, 68% in the United Kingdom and 45% in China. These should set an alarm for all of us as we aspire to emerge as an economic powerhouse. Hence there is an urgent need to take measure to start addressing this situation immediately.

Current focus of the training

The whole emphasis of the centre is to train people by imparting skills. Freebies render the people lazy. The State should instead provide training to the young people coming out of schools. This will give them a sense of self-esteem and turn them productive and self-reliant. There is no problem even if we train people more than our requirement. The countries around us need and will absorb skilled personnel. Surplus in any sector should not be viewed as a crisis.

There will be skilled and unskilled everywhere. But in the long run only the trained will survive. Excellence springs from competition. Restrictions smother growth. Regulatory authorities should do their work to provide a fair competition. Look at the car or cellphone industry and connectivity providers. Now even domestic helpers can afford a smartphone. Demographic dividend should be looked at as a blessing.

How do you plan to guide this project in future?

Three things that the youth need as tools of empowerment are education, livelihood and an environment for enterprise creation. While access to education today is a lot more than what it used to be, it still falls short of being universal. By starting such centres we will be serving ourselves too. We will soon have our own campus in the city to explore prospects for starting more such courses, both certificate and diploma. It is my desire to set up such centres in Kochi, Hyderabad and Chennai.

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