(BSL, LLb, MSc., PMP, ITIL)
When was the last time you met a regional plumber/electrician/carpenter?
Skills I personally never accrued properly, so perhaps, I should not be the one commenting.
But my dad (engineer) was rather skilled with his hands and had an enviable set of tools. My uncles (engineers, lawyers) on both sides were handymen around the house and wouldn't dream of calling "a repairman" for fixing a leaky faucet, a dead wire or even changing hinges on door-frames, cupboards and even soldering wires etc. Even I could fix the occasional home repair or fix my cantankerous old Enfield bike.
Still, I can't fix my AC, refit kitchen pipes and the never-ending repairs associated with living in a rambling Assam-type Bungalow on the outskirts of "town". So, I have a horde of young men marching through our "heritage home of horrors", with a steady chatter of dialects from all across the Indo-Gangetic Plains, from the upper slopes of Kumaon to the shallow banks of the Hooghly and maybe, even further.
Am I wrong in assuming that our "boys" are blinded by contextual perception?
In Assam, the list of the AICTE-approved Institutes for the academic year 2019-2020 was 601.
There are 8 broad-based categories of Pan-India Initiatives, numerous schemes on holistic growth in various technical fields. Yet, there is a definite mismatch between demand and supply, or so it seems. The following is a screenshot of the dashboard for the same years from the AICTE website for the State of Assam. The #Data Not Available is the most telling story, perhaps.
Between providing relevant skill-based education about the actual outreach of VET2 Schemes, especially in rural and semi-urban zones, fact meets fiction.
Capacity to deliver, behavioural change management, and overall encouragement of 1 https://facilities.aicte-india.org/dashboard/pages/angularda-shboard.php#!/approved 2 Vocational Education and Training regional candidates during school days to consider alternative means and modes of "successful employment" is the desperate need of the hour.
When we thump our chests and roar about "Made in India", a worrying statistic is that India has about 11 VET institutes (public+ private) for every 1,000 similar institutes in China. While we have staggering numbers of IT professionals, our estimated vocationally trained workforce is 1 for every 25 for even a country like Korea, a measly 4% as compared to 96% - Even Botswana has about 22% of its workforce vocationally trained. This doesn't include the numbers of workers (Skilled & Semi-Skilled) who are "unofficially trained" and have no certificates or similar documentation. The famed PMKVY (2016-20) has ended almost and trained roughly 80 lacs youth in the country. In a country with a potential workforce of hundreds of crores (not including older sections of the population), this is a drop in the sea.
Demand needs to drive skill development if the plan for unemployment reduction has to succeed.
The National Education Policy, expected to come in by next year is a welcome event, but implementation will not be easy. For a State like Assam, we must change the mindset at the very inception. Just like the highly successful Covid-19 outreach campaign, or earlier healthcare-related campaigns like polio prevention etc., the Government of Assam must highlight the importance of vocational education and training. A holistic overview is not the need of the hour – that can come later.
Essentially activate the teacher workforce. Engage the Parents.
In his earlier role as Education Minister, our Hon'ble Chief Minister holds an immense and unimaginable footprint in the hearts of the common people. His viral media videos of personally checking teachers of provincial schools are a delight to watch. His words carry much weight and the government needs to issue a clarion call to this HUGE workforce to take forward the message that working with our hands is not a punishment. Manual work should not be looked down upon or demeaned.
Don't you remember your parents and teachers, telling you to study or else you'd be cutting grass? I do - our beloved father, once even made my brother cut the lawn, for scoring badly in an exam!! This brings me to this – Education & Value Systems (like Charity) begins at home, with parents and teachers. Somebody fetch them to the schools and re-educate them. If our State wants a fighting chance at actually improving the unemployment figures, change the mindset, change the game.
Assam stands too distant from the commercial hub spots to make any significant profit for any big industry. We've to mobilize our workforce to go out and earn a living. Or start a business. Anything but a "sitting job".
With the utmost respect for the hordes of non-regional boys who come do never-ending repairs at my home of horrors, I'd welcome a local boy more than anything, no offence meant.