Skilling the Youth: Need to refocus amid changing scenario
Manipur ought to urgently find out the people who are either unemployed or underemployed and can absorb the various types of skill training and based on the availability of such persons devise suitable program to up-skill them.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, skill development activities are being carried out all across the country, including Manipur. Under it, sets of skills were standardised while also the mechanism for its recognition was put in place. The existing system of certificates having primacy over real skill continues with the new scheme. Politicians love saying that with the new set of skills, majority of them will find gainful employment or even become entrepreneurs. Manipur had seen some entrepreneurs who had risen by dint of their merit and hard work to be recognised and become respected member of the society but majority of those who had learnt the skill could find only low wage employment.
There is, however, certain issues on the type of training or skill provided. There seems a belief that the unemployed are a uniform set of people who are poorly educated and need to be provided with low level of skill for gainful employment. Thus, traditional skill like tailoring, embroidery, backyard poultry, handloom weaving, pottery, etc continues to be in the focus. This leaves out qualified youth who with an additional specific skill set can become highly successful in a specific area and can work in any part of the globe. Though they had good training in their area of specialisation, due to the education system prevailing in India, they could not join the highly competitive market of jobs and a little bit of specific skill can do wonders; especially soft skills. Where they get employment should not be an issue as even if they work outside the state, they will repatriate funds to their family regularly, thereby contributing to the gross state domestic product.
The present set of skills imparted can only ensure sustenance employment and it is high time that skilling is done in those areas where there is a high demand or the demand is likely to increase in a short time, that is adopting a wider variety of skill sets.
During the COVID-19 pandemic there have been rethinking on the ways of doing business as it is a game changer. Despite all efforts of the PM and his team, internet banking was not the preferred mode of financial transaction. But the pandemic ensure that to reduce person to person contact, net banking have been taken up as the preferred mode of transaction and its usage jumped leaps and bounds with India in 2020 overtaking China in the number of e-transactions. Similarly many apps which are contactless are now been used in various sectors, especially in the hospitality sector, as a way to lure in customers after the pandemic to provide a sense of security. E-marketing has become the preferred mode of purchase among the younger generations, and many start-ups in Manipur have used social media for marketing and innovative ways of marketing have been put in place.
In terms of skilling, should Manipur or India be divorced from the global requirement and focus on those areas which we feel, without rational basis, requires skilling? The answer is no as India and for that matter Manipur has the capacity to export human resources which has the requisite set of skills due to its youth dividend. Thus, there is a need to refocus on those skills which has a global market, especially when the globe is on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution leading to job transformation.
Demand for both ‘digital’ and ‘human’ factors will propel growth in various professions in the future. The World Economic Forum points to seven key professional clusters emerging in tandem after COVID-19. Growth of jobs is expected to be highest among the care roles while lowest in green professions. Manipur should focus on those industries which require low capital investment and should focus on re-skilling or up-skilling its human capital with high-tech skills and specialised interpersonal skills related to sales, human resources, care and education. Rather than concentrate solely on hard skills, emphasis must also be given to soft skills if our youth is being prepared for a highly competitive global market.
Jobsenz, a Singapore based start-up run by a Manipuri, had during the height of the pandemic worked out the set of skills which will be in great demand during and after the pandemic. Though some members of the government are aware of it, no follow up action was initiated. The skill development market is highly competitive and delay can leave behind the slow starters. Thus urgent steps must be taken to be in the forefront.
In the Care Economy, emerging jobs will be Medical Transcriptionists, Physical Therapists Aides, Radiation Therapists, Athletic Trainers, Medical Equipment Preparers, Vet Assistants and Lab Animal Caretakers, Exercise Physiologists, Recreation Workers, Personal Care Aides, Respiratory Therapists, Medical Assistants, Fitness Trainers and Aerobic Instructors, Occupational Health and Safety technicians, Orderlies and Healthcare Support Workers. The top ten skills required in this sector are Respiratory Therapy, Caregiving, Sterile Procedure/ Techniques, Transcription, Radiation Treatment, Medical Dosimetry, Vital Signs Measurement, Simulation, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Radiologic Technology.
The emerging jobs in Data and Artificial Intelligence are Artificial Intelligence Specialists, Data Scientists, Data Engineer, Big data Developer, Data Analysts, Analytics specialist, Data Consultant, Insights Analyst, Business Intelligence Developer and Analytics Consultant and the top ten skills are Data Science, Data Storage Technologies, Development Tools, Artificial Intelligence, Software Development Life Cycle, Management Consulting, Web Development, Digital Literacy, Scientific Computing and Computer Networking and for Manipur IT Solution Development for Governance, Healthcare and others would be beneficial.
The emerging jobs in Green Economy are Methane/Landfill Gas Generation System Technician, Wind Turbine Service Technician, Green Marketers, Bio fuel Processing Technician, Solar Energy Installation Manager, Water Resource Specialists, Wind Energy Project Manager, Chief Sustainability Officer, Refuse & Recyclable Materials Collector, Sustainability Specialist, Solar Photovoltaic Installer, Water/ Waste Water Engineer, Forest Fire Inspector and Prevention Specialist, Fuel Cell Engineer and Nuclear Power Reactor Operator. The top ten skill in this sector are Digital Marketing, Wind Turbines, Landfill Gas Collection, Social media, Equipment Inventory, Solar Installation, Health and Safety Standard, Microsoft Power Bl, Electrical Diagrams/ Schemes and Email Marketing.
In Marketing, Sales and Content the emerging jobs are in Digital Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, Strategy of Content Marketing and the Science of Well-Being and the top 10 skills in this sector are Digital Marketing, Social Media, Business Management, Digital Literacy, Advertising, Product Marketing, Video, Graphic Design, Leadership and Writing.
The emerging jobs in People and Culture are in Human Resource Management: HR for People Managers, Introduction to People Analytics, Recruiting, Hiring and Onboarding Employees, Managing Employee Compensation and Preparing to Manage Human Resource. The top ten skills are Recruiting, Human Resources, Business Management, Employee Learning & Development, Leadership, Digital Literacy, Project Management, People Management, Compensation and Benefits and Foreign Languages.
In Product Development the emerging jobs will be in Digital Product Management: Modern Fundamentals, Software Product Management, Agile Development, AI for Everyone and Introduction to Software Product Management and the ten top skills are Software Testing, Software Development Life Cycle, Development Tools, Project Management, Business Management, Data Storage Technologies, Web Development, Manufacturing Operations, Digital Literacy and Leadership.
All these set of skills cannot be provided at a go and only a few can be selected based on the applicability in Manipur and the availability of persons ready to accept the set of skills and trainers can be outsourced from even outside. Some of the skills will require middle level of education while some may need higher level. The low-level skill training can continue side by side such programmes which along with the soft skill can continue to provide job opportunities. For Manipur the most suitable sector will be in the Care Economy and Marketing, Sales and Content as we may find it difficult to join in Data and AI, Engineering and Cloud Computing, Product Development, Green Economy and People and Culture as at present in a large scale.
Marketing needs to include online marketing, which a few enterprises in the state has started. The concept of “Veg in Basket” is a good idea and it can be further improved if the customers are allowed to book for a longer period say six months with one basket delivered every week or fortnight as per the desire of the customer. In care economy, Manipur is doing well especially in the nursing sector and the demand can be improved if specific additional skills are provided.
Manipur ought to urgently find out the people who are either unemployed or underemployed and can absorb the various types of skill training and based on the availability of such persons devise suitable programme to up-skill them. The programmes may be continued and discontinued based on the job market and the availability of those willing to participate in the program. In other words, most of the programmes will be conducted by those on tenure employment. This will ensure flexibility of the programmes to meet the changing need.
(The views expressed are the writer's own)