08 Nov 2022

Let us take India’s skills to WorldSkills standards

By Sumit Munjal, General Manager, Telecom Sector Skill Council

Skill development has come a long way in India. Historically, skills were a consequence of availability and not the ability of manpower. Today, while on one hand, we have a working age population of roughly 86 crores where more than 46 crores are youth under 25 years of age, we also are observing a widening gap between industry demand and skilled talent supply. There is an inherent need to enhance the skills of the available workforce to improve their employability. The government interventions over the past years were able to lay a foundation for skill development, but there is still much to be desired in terms of ground-level execution of the same. We have very recently moved from a disbursed and distributed model with multiple government bodies, to a cohesive and unified one. Under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, skilling in India is seeing great reforms and policy interventions. These are reinvigorating the country’s workforce and preparing the youth for job opportunities.  

We have much to be proud of as India’s excellent performance at the WorldSkills Competition this year in Kyoto Japan showcased how far we have come. The annual WorldSkills Competitions are the gold standard for excellence in technical skills. Telecom Sector Skill Council trained and facilitated #VaisakhPoomamgalathil to participate in the WorldSkills Competition where he was awarded the ‘Medallion of Excellence'. I believe, this is the standard we must aspire to and subscribe to here in India. We need to ascertain how industry and academia can associate together to take skilling to a higher level and close the gap between the demand and supply of a skilled workforce. Our focus here at Telecom SSC is to ensure that we skill the candidates as per the industry requirements and provide them with relevant job opportunities. 

When addressing the concern for quality skill development, we need to find out the reasons why there is a disparity in the market. The market is everchanging and most recently, digital transformation has changed its landscape. It has made information and by extension education more accessible. Let us take a look at how digital transformation has influenced the skilling sector in India.  

The proliferation of digital platforms transpired on the account of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is possible because of the reduced prices of internet packages and smartphones. According to a study from Deloitte, India has 750 million smartphone users. By 2026 India is set to have 1 billion smartphone users. Digital learning is now accessible to a majority of the Indian population. In the case of rural areas, they are at the cusp of receiving full exposure to high-bandwidth internet accessibility as even BSNL has plans to rollout 4G across all circles. There is an untapped potential in rural and semi-urban areas which can close the discrepancy in the skilling ecosystem. Rural areas can utilize this opportunity to skill and upskill through the use of digital platforms. But how do we make these skills more accessible to the far ends of rural areas?  

Looking at internet connectivity in rural areas, there are two factors that we need to keep in mind – availability, and accessibility. Digitization is proliferating in India; however, progress is moving at a slow pace when it comes to reach. This is especially evident in the case of last-mile connectivity. I believe we need to bring in more awareness around digital best practices by building knowledge centers and spreading awareness. According to a recent National Survey Service Office (NSSO) survey, the rural area literacy rate stands at 71%. This is an added advantage for those looking to gain skills, including reskilling and upskilling. 

Within this sphere, there are three junctures we need to factor in. This includes devices, connections, and knowledge services. In the case of devices, there are individual applications such as personal computers and cell phones. Then there is the availability of internet cafes and labs for those who cannot afford their own devices. The majority of the people in the said area are not equipped with personal devices, which is why building infrastructures (such as labs) is essential. Through these platforms, we can identify job-seeking candidates and enable them to make them industry-ready. Building labs will also create awareness, spark curiosity, and attract potential applicants.  

To enhance connectivity, there are wireless options, and wirelines, which include broadband and fiber. There is a lack of strong connectivity. Wirelines are still significant in the rural sector. This demands a workforce that can implement their skills and knowledge of connectivity affairs, thereby closing the gap. Now let us take a look at the discrepancy in knowledge services or vocational courses in these areas. 

When it comes to the dissemination of industry-related education, there are options for free courses and paid courses. In the case of free courses, they can readily be available on YouTube or any unpaid online platforms. Then there are paid courses. For advanced learning, candidates can opt for paid programs. We can help such candidates by providing free training under different government schemes. 

A Centre of Excellence (CoE) or a TSSC Skill Lab is a facility-based and domain-specific competency lab. It is envisioned to provide a hands-on approach towards leading-edge technologies such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning, the Internet of Things, Security & Surveillance, and more. A Skill Lab ensures best industry practice and skill training in key emerging areas and helps identify knowledge deficits and skill gaps.  

I believe building more CoEs in the rural sphere can bring a lot of positive changes. These dedicated labs can help create an environment of learning where diligence in the subject drives the learning process. This can be the connecting component between the demand and supply of skilled manpower. Learning centers will prepare the youth of India to upskill and build an entrepreneurial mindset and will boost AtmaNirbhar Bharat. TSSC aims to open multiple skill labs over the country. We have an agile process of assembling a premium skill lab in a period of 4 to 6 weeks. 


Once again, I emphasize, in the case of bridging the gap, we offer many solutions. We provide free skilling under various government schemes, such as PMKVY, DBT, RPL, etc. TSSC also partners with several organizations (such as AISECT, DADB, Duranc, ICT Academy etc.) that provide paid courses that are futuristic and job-ready digital programs. These courses are beneficial for those job seekers who want to upskill or expand their knowledge base. TSSC is on a mission to make India employable.  

Sumit Munjal, General Manager, TSSC