Driving, masonry or plumbing as dignified career options.
The recently concluded Skilling India conference themed ‘Skilling India-Empowering Indian Youth through World Class Education’ organized by Assocham and FORE School of Management, New Delhi, was sort of an eye opener. The context of the brain storming session, held at Bhubaneswar, was set by Dr. Jitendra K Das, Director FORE School, in his welcome address. The conference witnessed full house participation with delegates from corporate, Govt. regulators, policy makers, academia, system integrators. Some of the data Dr. Das shared startled many in the audience and questioned the road map and preparedness of the nation towards a skilled India
More than the data shared by Dr. Das, it was the thought provoking deliberations initiated by him and the panelist, which captured prominence. Mr. B. S. Pani, Head, Span Resources, mentioned about the dominance of people from Kendra Para –a village in Orissa, when it comes to un organized sectors like plumbing. Large number of plumbers, who hails from that village, can be found in every nook and corner of the country earning their livelihood. Surprisingly, there is no skill development institution in that place, focused to plumbing. Likewise, around 1.5 lac diamond cutters and designers can be found employed with Gujarat’s diamond merchants who are believed to be highly skilled and exceptionally talented. However, there aren’t any plans to develop these intrinsic skills of the locals. These missed opportunities can be probably seen in many such sectors which otherwise could have contributed to this mission of ‘Skill Development’ and ‘Skill India’ making it a grand success. Without any credible assessors, evaluators, proper skill gap analysis and reforms, future trajectory of a ‘Developed India’ doesn’t look to be very optimistic.
Another pertinent question raised by Dr. Jitendra K Das was the issue of instilling pride in choosing a career path of a plumber, electrician or mason. Why can’t India too have a dignified truck driver like in any other developed nation? While compensation definitely has to be linked with the profession it is equally important to have vocational training institutes with domain expertise who can impart OJT (on the job training) to the vast talent pool available across the country.
Mr. L. N Gupta, Principal Secretary, Skill Development & Technical Education, Govt. of Odisha, while promising to look into the plumbing and the diamond designers sectors rightly mentioned that today a mere graduation or a post-graduation unless accompanied by some skills which meets the industry demand, is considered inadequate. The key reason, for the number of employable graduates not increasing.
Hon’ble minister Industries, School & Mass Education, Mr. Debi Prasad Mishra, graced the occasion as Chief Guest and emphasized upon development of skill without diluting the traditional skill and originalities. Among others were Prof. Prasanna R Kailaje, Director, Manipal University, Prof. Aloysius Edward J, Dean, Kristu Jayanti College, Bengaluru, Gopal Garg, Director, Youth4jobs Foundation, Hyderabad, Arun Kabra, CFO, Times of India Group, Mihir Sen, CEO, Comunet Info-Systems Pvt. Ltd, Deepak Warad, Business Head, SoftTech Engineers, Sanjib Nayak, VP & Regional Head, IL&FS, Shri Ashok Mehta, President, Educomp Solutions Ltd.
With new business models coming in, things may soon change from what it is presently. Reminds me of two recent incidents in both cases it was drivers from radio cab services, Ola &Uber. The first incident was in Hyderabad when after few small talks the Ola driver watching me formally dressed in a formal jacket, asked if I was going for just a general meeting or for a “pitch”. I was like, did I hear him right? He repeated the words. I fumbled, then somehow in my speechless state, managed to reply “sort of pitch”. He responded with a Thumbs-up. Second incident was in Kolkata when an Uber driver called back and in clear crisp English said, “Sir, request you to allow me 10 min of time to reach your location”.
Classic cases of customer delight. Only wish if these were outcomes of some structured training initiatives and not just few random cases of self-developed individuals meeting their customer’s expectations and earning respect.