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Dr. Ajay Kela speaks to ET on Wadhwani Foundation’s skilling initiatives

Narendra Modi government plans to make soft skills part of technical syllabus

To bridge the chasm between skills imparted by vocational training schools and the abilities industry looks for in potential employees, the Modi government is rolling out an ambitious plan to top-up the existing technical syllabus across industrial training institutes with modules aimed at making them ready for the modern workplace.

On the anvil are over 500 hours of training content on soft skills like inter-personal communication and functional English to be used for daily workplace chores, practical know-how on dealing with emergencies in work domains and most importantly, IT skills necessary to browse the iNet and social media, and operate office productivity tools. “There is a renewed sense of urgency in the government about achieving outcomes in skill development and job creation. Our goal is to create high-value jobs that can support a family and the government needs to leverage technology and innovation to achieve scale for its Skill India program,” Silicon valley based Ajay Kela, chairman of the Wadhwani Foundation that is working with the skill development and entrepreneurship ministry to roll out the plan.

“I use Uber to commute instead of hiring or buying a car, whether I am in the US or India. But whenever I order n Uber in Delhi, the driver invariably calls me twice to check the address though a GPS device in his car has the co-ordinates. The reason is the Indian river’s fear of technology,” he said, explaining the need for youth to be able to use such productivity tools.

“Infosys wouldn’t have created its Mysore campus, if it didn’t need to train graduates for another year to be fit for the job. India’s BPO industry is worth $20 billion dollars and pays more to hire graduates but faces a high attrition rate. If we can train a XIIth pass in six to 12 months on things like data entry and calls that won’t be the case,” Kela asserted. Over the next six months, the outfit will work with the Centre to deliver skill sets to over 6,000 trainee sat 300 industrial training institutes or ITIs on a pilot basis. After an impact-assessment exercise, the program will be scaled up to 10,000- odd ITIs and other vocational education initiatives — be it the University Grants Commission, that is looking at setting up hundreds of community colleges, or private sector training providers working with National Skills Development Corporation. “Companies are willing to pay more salaries to people who can talk in English and operate a PC. If we can demonstrate this successfully, others can replicate it, including government schools,” Kela told ET. The foundation has developed 349 training lessons on such workplace skills that are imparted in interactive-video formats.

ET VIEW: Youngsters Need Decent Education First
Honing the skills of our youngsters to make them productive at work is welcome. Industry often complains about the poor quality of training of graduates from vocational schools. In China, even school students in the vocational stream undergo practical training in an industry environment. However, some skills will also become redundant as the economy evolves, thereby rendering those who have acquired such skills redundant. Hence, the government’s focus must be to raise the quality of education. Only then can youngsters learn new skills.

The Economic Times

The Economic Times

The Economic Times