Talisma Corporation, a for-profit skilling venture has helped two of the country’s most ambitious skill development projects — National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) by offering technological support. The NSDC is a public-private partnership that aims to promote skill development by catalysing creation of large, quality, for-profit vocational institutions. It provides funding to build scalable training initiatives. The NRLM is a self-employment programme that hopes to cover 7 crore rural poor households across 600 districts in six lakh villages. For NSDC, Talisma’s Skill Development and Management System helps meet the objective of skilling 1.5 crore Indians. For NRLM, the solution helps deliver benefits to the right targets.
“What we have managed to do so far is implement systems that connect over 800 partners imparting skills training and 25 sector skills councils that provide training to those who couldn’t get the same from a conventional undergraduate degree. We are connecting all the stakeholders,” says Raj Mruthyunjayappa, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Europe, West Asia and Africa, Talisma.
With Rs 70,000 crore pumped into skilling people as a business and industry, Raj says the potential is unlimited. “There are three reasons for this. Firstly, our traditional three-year undergraduate programmes aren’t giving people employment leading to people look at alternate sources. Secondly, there is a need for multiple skills. You know, farmers don’t have agricultural work all 365 days of a year; so with training, they can do more. Lastly, social entrepreneurship is becoming big, and segments previously ignored like wirebending, dyemaking and other manufacturing services are coming up,” he explains.
The country’s National Skills Policy in 2009 set a target of imparting skills training to 500 million people by 2022. At present, however, only two per cent of the total workforce in India have undergone skills training, according to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The formal education system has failed in the area of categorising education programmes, says Raj. “There are courses, like Bachelor of Arts in Gandhism, that aren’t meant for jobs, but for learning only. It is imperative to distinguish between the courses that are meant to translate into jobs and those whose purpose is only learning. Due to lack of clarity, people ended up in the wrong courses,” he says, adding, “Some courses need to be revisited as they aren’t required anymore.”
Raj feels skills training should be done effectively in terms of identification. “You don’t want to skill people in areas where they can’t find jobs in the radius that they live in. If a person is being trained in tailoring, you have to ensure that there is a textile industry around. If the mandate is only to update skills, it won’t achieve anything. It has to be about employment guarantee,” he says rooting for creation of a National Skills Registry.
“A registry like this will ensure the same person does not undergo 20 different training programmes. The true measure is whether he is trained, employed and whether he continues to use the skills he has acquired,” he says, suggesting that the Skills and Labour Ministries of the country should be merged.
Talisma’s technology solutions has already helped the Government in fraud prevention by “plugging loose ends,” he says, explaining, “The ecosystem has so many players, and funds keep getting transferred for the same job of skills training. As such, one candidate could be getting trained in four different programmes, which costs the government. We have closed these loopholes by ensuring 95 per cent accuracy in the information we receive.”
The larger problem, Raj believes, is to ensure identification of sectors that create employment. “In spite of the huge government spend on skills training, there is no last-mile connectivity — there is no follow up on whether participants who got trained have been able to get jobs. While leakages have been plugged in many ways, we still lack the swiftness and aggression with which we should multiply. An employment ecosystem is what we need,” Raj says.
About Raj M
Raj began with Talisma more than 11 years ago, joining Campus Management following an acquisition in 2008, and he has held executive positions at nGenera and Talisma Corporation in Engineering, Services, Business Operations and Business Development. He has a long-standing background in Information Technology, having worked with companies such as Aditi Technologies, nGenera Corporation and Visual Commerce. He spent over a decade working in the US managing global service operations and data centre operations. Raj is an Electronics Engineer by training and received his Master degree in Computer Applications from University of Mysore