15 Nov 2022

Building bridges: From a reactive to a proactive human resource economy

By Sudhir Kumar Jain, General Manager, Telecom Sector Skill Council

The Government of India (GOI) is largely focused on transforming India into a highly productive middle-income nation. From an agriculture-based economy, India aims to grow in the field of manufacturing and services. These ambitious plans to reshape the Indian economy are highly dependent on the availability of jobs and the quality of the workforce. As a result, this has increased the demand for skilled labour over the past few years.

In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cited that he aims to make India the “Human Resource” capital of the world. During the launch of the Skill India Mission, he compares India to China and said, “If China has emerged as the manufacturing capital of the world, India can become the human resources capital of the world.” He further added that in the coming decades, he envisions that the world will gain the maximum workforce from India. 

Many countries today need more skilled workers to compete in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). It is a viable strategy for bringing advanced technologies to their domestic industries, and expanding their foreign trade. This will boost industrial and economic development. The availability of a skilled workforce in a country is a key determinant for multinational firms considering investments.   

To accelerate its economic growth and take the lead of its “demographic dividend,” India has recently embarked on drastic policy reforms to expedite skills development. These reforms have led to important changes, both at the policy and framework levels and at the institutional level. However, only 2.3 per cent of India’s workforce has received any form of formal skill training. School dropouts have lesser opportunities to acquire job-specific skills. To address this issue, India holds skill development as a priority sector.

India’s growing young workforce needs to acquire market-relevant skills needed in today’s highly competitive job market. The government has launched several skill development schemes that focus on providing training to the informal sector. More than 12 million Indian youth between the ages of 15 to 29 are expected to enter India’s labour force in the next two decades. Through Skill India Mission, the GOI initiative facilitates our youth’s transition to a skilled workforce. This includes Short-Term Training, Recognition of Prior Learning, and Special Projects. These components benefit candidates including, school dropouts, college dropouts, or unemployed individuals. 

According to National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF), Short Term Training (STT) also focuses on training in soft skills, entrepreneurship, financial, and digital literacy. STT has both provisions for fresh skilling (first-time learners) and reskilling (trainees/existing workforce who have already undergone formal/informal skilling). After the successful completion of assessments, candidates are provided placement assistance by training providers. In my opinion, STT is an essential component in employability, especially for those that do not have the necessary finances to afford basic education.

The unorganized sector needs to enhance its skills, especially focusing on quality. These skills need to be formally regulated. This brings us to discuss the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) which is an impactful scheme in terms of upskilling or reskilling. RPL is a formal process of identifying previous experiential learning. Through a systematic assessment and certification process, RPL aims to award formal qualifications. This is a skill certification scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) that imparts skill-based training. A large section of the workforce in India, especially in the informal sector, has not undergone any formal training to acquire skills. In such cases, skills have been obtained at workplaces, mostly through informal training or experiences gained over a period of time.  

Some benefits of RPL include additional training which imparts add-on bridge courses and language courses for making schemes compatible with international standards and requirements. This will also enhance the potential for international employment. 

In 2020-21, the telecom industry contributed 6% to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is set to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 9.4% by 2025. India’s digital economy is predicted to be worth $1 trillion by 2025. With the launch of 5G, the demand for a skilled workforce will increase exponentially. Job postings for telecommunications and 5G have increased by 33.7 per cent between September 2021 to September 2022.  

Telecom Sector Skill Council (TSSC) is a Non-Profit Organization, registered under the Societies Registration Act, of 1860. An industry-led apex body, jointly set up by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA), and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), to ensure adequate availability of skilled manpower to boost growth and productivity in the Telecom sector. TSSC is engaged in driving industry engagement through National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and Centre of Excellence (CoE). TSSC has developed qualifications in alliance with the industry with the onset of upcoming and futuristic job roles in 5G, Drone, and related applications with the goal to minimize the skill gaps in the Telecom sector.

TSSC is leading from the forefront to meet the Skill India Mission initiative of GOI through its industry associations and dedicated associated Training Partners.