In a conversation with Infosys executive vice-chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan at the second edition of the ThinkEdu Conclave organised by The New Indian Express here on Friday, Human Resource Development Minister M M Pallam Raju stressed on the importance of imparting skills along with education to the country’s young workforce.
“It is imperative that we skill youngsters,” the minister said. Quizzed by Gopalakrishnan on whether India, which is supposed to skill 500 million people by 2020, can actually pull it off, Raju said, “We are destined to have the youngest work force ever. Along with education, skilling is essential to provide opportunities to young people. The Prime Minister has set a target of 50 crore youth.”
Making a presentation on the demographic dividend, policy initiatives and efforts of his ministry and other agencies, the HRD minister said the main challenge was to tailor education and skills to suit the industry’s requirements. “So far, there is a gap. In order to bridge the gap, the quality of training and equipment must be improved. Also, whatever we build should be in sync with the times.”
Drawing a parallel to a similar situation that prevailed in the information technology sector, Gopalakrishnan said there were only 1.5 lakh people in the IT sector 20 years ago. Today, there were 2.5 million. “The industry created mechanism to skill and train the people. We recruited graduates and post-graduates from Math and Science (backgrounds) and gave them three to six months training to convert them into software engineers.”
Some corporate houses run business schools, the software expert said, adding they were good examples of how the target of skilling 500 million people could be met.
Responding to the minister’s appeal for public-private partnership in capacity-building, Gopalakrishnan asked how the government proposed to meet the challenge of establishing coordination among the HRD ministry, the National Skill Development Corporation and other agencies in order to have a uniform standard of training? The minister replied that coordination would be achieved through National Knowledge Network. The fibre optic technology communication would be expanded in rural areas, he added.