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Skill development is the need of the hour and a host of agencies have launched programmes aimed at doing so. But how effective are these programmes? To ensure they are moving in the right direction, skill assessment agencies are also springing up.
The Automotive Skill Development Council (ASDC), funded by National Skill Development Corporation and the Ministry of Heavy Industry, for instance, has been taking the help of Mettl, a a start-up specialising in providing an online skill assessment platform for companies, for a year now. "We are concerned that the training provided should actually make people employable and as we provide the certification, we felt the need to carry out the assessment," says Sunil K. Chaturvedi, CEO, ASDC.
"We have both practical and theoretical assessment. Mettl has created a platform for us where we can assess the theoretical knowledge of people who have undergone skill training," he adds.
NSDC faces the stiff target of training 25 million youth for various skill-based jobs in the next 10 years. "We provide a platform that is tailored to the use of a company. We also work with Nasscom and have started offering assessment for players providing training for the telecom and retail industries," says Ketan Kapoor, co-founder and CEO, Mettl.
Another major player in the assessment space is Wheebox. It works with 2,200 colleges in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). "We work with the director of technical education and conduct employability skill tests in colleges and assess final year students from across streams," says Nirmal Singh, Founder & CEO, Wheebox.
The company, in association with CII, has also come out with a white paper called India Skills Report. "We advise colleges on the gaps that exist and refer them to skill development programmes. We also work with skill training providers and offer employment opportunities for people who have higher secondary education and and above as we also work with 40 large enterprises and offer our services for assessment to them," says Singh.
The last few years has seen the rise of companies such as Aspiring Minds, which conducts skill assessments in colleges and aids companies in hiring employable talent. There are also players such as ETS which conduct assessment tests such as Common Admission Tests, or CAT, for B-Schools, Manipal owned MeritTrac and TCS ion in diverse areas of assessment. "Only 11 per cent of the assessment space is online and we see a lot of opportunity for growth in the space," says Singh.
To be sure, online assessment is gaining ground as it is always not possible for companies to have the infrastructure needed to go and assess talent in different parts of the country, especially the remote areas. Players such as Mettl and Wheebox have devised technology that allows them to verify candidates and ensure that no proxies are used. "We have even come up with solutions where people who do not understand English and do not have computing skills can use local language activated touch screens," says Kapoor of Mettl.
But challenges remain. "We find poor network connection and other infrastructure issues coming in the way, but we are working around those," says Chaturvedi of ASDC.