The mismatch between demand and supply of trained talent is becoming increasingly apparent in India. Pramod Bhasin, former President & CEO of Genpact and current Chairman of CII Services Council, and founder of The Skill Academy spoke to Shamni Pande on the issues plaguing skill development today. Pande met him on the sidelines of the World Bank organised South Asia Regional Conclave on Skills Development and Employability at which Bhasin was a speaker. Edited excerpts:
Q. What is the big challenge before skill development today?
A. In a country where there is a large mass of people who need training, given that the industry rues the lack of skills, you would think there would be a huge demand for skill programmes. But, in fact, there isn't . There is no major demand for skill programmes and for the many government-backed training setups.
This is because of the huge mismatch between the aspirations of people and the nature of the jobs being offered. As a result, many of the positions offered go unfulfilled. Areas of interest can be provided only if people have many opportunities.
In many instances, there are plenty of jobs in urban areas, in our cities. For instance, if you go to any mall there are vacancy signs put up, but it is for a remuneration which does not make it attractive for someone moving from a different geography, or from a village where such openings are not available. Being closer to home, a person has access to cheaper health care and infrastructure support, societal network versus a city where these are missing and there is a higher cost of living and rent.
We also notice that when some job in the government sector is opened, there are applications in lakhs. People find government jobs attractive for their perceived sense of job security. Unfortunately, in many part of India, there is intrinsic distrust of the private sector as well.
Q. Has not the industry also faltered in offering a differential for trained people?
A. Yes, it is true that the industry has not incentivised people by offering them a higher salary for their training at a certain level. Some industries such as the IT/ITeS and banking have done so, but there are still large sectors that do not offer a differential wage for trained talent. But that also brings focus to the point of poor quality of training where the difference between skilled and non-skilled person is not significant enough for industry to reach out and offer the difference.
We need to look at an economic model that can deliver the type of quality industry needs to be able to spend a lot more.
Q. How can industry be helped to hire trained talent?
A. Industry needs to be incentivised. In all the places, we went to and studied the skilling model - in China, Romania, Mexico and Colombia - we found that industry was given incentives for training people. Of course, they needed to demonstrate that they were, in fact, training and customising people to their requirement.
Q. What is your view of the role played by the National Skill Development Corporation, or NSDC?
A. What the National Skill Development Corporation does is good, but we need to take the effort to a whole new level. We need to kick-start the agenda of having a national policy framework for skills. We need co-ordinated role between ministries and we need bring all sides together. By that I mean see that students, their aspirations actually meet with industry and their needs and all this happens at a cost and salary that work for both.
*An earlier version of the interview contained a wrong picture of Pramod Bhasin.