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Mantra for Holistic Sustainable Growth

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Creating ‘Skills Revolution’ to make U’khand ‘The Global-Hub’

By Col (Dr) DP Dimri (Retd)

President John F Kennedy had stated, “Large scale unemployment during a recession is bad enough, but large scale unemployment during period of prosperity would be perilous and intolerable.” Similar concerns were also voiced by our former Prime minister on unemployment due to prevalent skill-gaps / shortages. India and Uttarakhand face similar growth challenge wherein a large young population is productively unskilled and befittingly unemployed / underemployed. They are, therefore, unable to participate effectively in the growth process of their own and State and Nation. The fact, ‘Accumulation and application of knowledge and skills’, needs to be well comprehended and suitably acted upon in time.

Uttarakhand’s Perspective 

Insufficient industrial/manufacturing units, business activities to include sustainable Start Up/Entrepreneurship ventures and dwindling agricultural production for multiple reasons compel the majority of youth to ‘migrate’ to undertake petty jobs out of the state. We need to address and arrest the situation on priority basis by creating a skills revolution in the State, for long term sustainable growth through:

(a) Optimal utilisation/ upgradation of all available vocational training resources like ITIs, Polytechnics, etc., and turning them into ‘Centres of Excellence’ through Governmental Initiatives or Public Private Partnership or otherwise, to generate ‘Ready-to-work / Employable Skilled work-force for Industry, Agriculture and Service sectors.

(b)  With ‘Employable Skilled Work-Force’ being readily available in the State, the same would result in

  1. Attracting industry/ business houses to set-up manufacturing units and business activities in the state, thereby generating employment opportunities.
  2. Promoting ‘reverse-migration’ to the state and minimising inflow of work-force from other states, thereby making more jobs available to the state’s own workers.

iii. Availability of quality skilled manpower for befitting decent employment within the District, State, Country and Globally for better emoluments. As per an estimate, with 65% of the Indian population being below 35 years of age, the most skilled work-force employed globally will be Indian in the near future. We need to get prepared and seize this opportunity, because “कौशल सर्वत्र पूज्यते”.

Developed nations like Korea, Japan and Germany, etc., owe their phenomenal growth to the availability of skilled manpower ranging from 65 to 94% of the population, as against India’s 10 to 15 % only. Moreover, Uttarakhand shares sensitive international borders with aggressive neighbours and large-scale migration of youth population would be dangerous for national security. The leadership at the helm of affairs needs to ponder upon this monumental problem and institute immediate preventive measures or face chaos and mass unrest in the near future by affected youth and natives.

The Methodology

‘Employable Skills’ is the buzzword for ‘decent employment, better livelihood and sustainable growth’. The State needs to create a pool of ‘Skilled work-force’ through skilling, upskilling and re-skilling the available Unskilled / Semi skilled (RPL – Recognition of Previous Learning manpower), youth and women, in particular, to meet the contemporary domestic and global employment demands.

This is achievable only through a systematic planned study of resources available on the ground and initiatives already undertaken and  those additionally required to raise a “Uttarakhand University Of  Skills And Entrepreneurship”.

Most resources in terms of infrastructure are ITIs/Polytechnics, a few of which only need to be befittingly augmented and upgraded as CoEs (Centres of Excellence) to impart employable skills covering basic Carpentry/Plumbing to Coding/AI/ Robotics; etc., to meet current market/user demands globally. Skill initiatives undertaken till now may also be suitably integrated with the University norms.

Financial aspects, estimated to be not too major, can be met through State and Central governments as also CSR and other voluntary contributions. The university will also control and provide impetus to Uttarakhand government flagship ‘Start Up and Entrepreneurship Programmes’. This would, however, need ‘Full throttle action and responsive Support’ with matching speed at all levels concerned with the state government in the determined ‘Lead–Role’.

Most Indian States have already raised Skill Universities or undertaken similar major integrated initiatives resulting in mammoth productive results of solving Employment and Growth challenges. The visionary Dr Parmar could turn Himachal into a “Krishi Pradhan Pradesh”, so can our super dynamic Chief Minister definitely create the “Kaushal Pradhan Pradesh”. This would be a major futuristic step with far reaching positive benefits to the State, People, Government and the Party.

The proposal to establish a “Skill University” is already with the government for nearly two years and this is the right time to genuinely consider the vital matter. Experienced dedicated services, as former Advisor to GoI on SDE, would be available to the state for this noble purpose without any returns. The ‘Challenge’ is mammoth but not insurmountable.  We can meet same in the long term interest of the State.

In fact, at the present juncture, we have no choice but to act fast or face consequences for which our future generations will not forgive us, the leadership and the responsible authorities, in particular. The immediate need of the hour is “Establishment of Uttarakhand Skill & Entrepreneurship University” on top priority and the rest will fall in line.

(The author is a Social Entrepreneur, former President Uttarayani, and Advisor,  GoI on SDE)