Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the “Make in India” Campaign with a lot of fanfare. Along with fixing India’s infrastructure, taxation and business laws to enable this; a lot of work needs to be done by and on the education sector if this initiative hopes to succeed.
The campaign devised by the Prime Minister seeks to mould India into a global manufacturing hub which fosters innovation and employs lakhs of people. However, Indian manufacturers will not succeed unless they are able to hire lakhs of candidates with the right training and skills to do these jobs correctly. The National Skill Development Corporation estimates that there will be a need for almost 120 million new skilled workers in India by 2022.
Teaching The Right Skills
To fulfill this need, India needs more educational institutions that can create industry oriented courses with curricula that create the skilled candidates needed by company recruiters.
Along with the basic functional skills needed to perform a job role, colleges need to build their students’ softer skills like problem solving ability, team working ability, communication skills etc. This is because the sort of functional skills needed will keep changing as job roles and market environments change. The ability to keep learning and applying new functional skills will depend on the worker having a strong base of these above mentioned soft skills.
Colleges also need to foster innovation in their students and encourage them to look at becoming entrepeneurs that create jobs and not just apply for jobs. The ecosystem for entrepreneurs has greatly expanded over the last five years, with the number of investors in new businesess doubling almost every year, according to NASSCOM. There are many new technologies available that greatly reduce the cost of starting a new business.
The recently announced Startup India initiative goes hand in hand with the Make in India campaign to change the legal and tax laws to make it much easier to start and run a new business.
The government has encouraged setting up incubators in colleges and universities to foster the creation of innovative new businesses by students. Institutions should encourage their students to experiment with new business ideas and provide them with industry mentors. Students who have developed a pilot project or prototype product should be showcased to angel investors in the community to possibly fund their plans.
What The Government Needs To Do
India’s education sector is highly regulated by government. This makes it very difficult for private entrepreneurs or investors to generate returns on the money they put it. The heavy hand of government also makes it difficult for colleges to innovate in curriculum or teaching methods. There are a range of education sector reform bills which need to be introduced in parliament which have not been looked at. Interestingly, one of the reasons stated for the fast growth of India’s IT industry was that there was minimal government regulation in this sector.
Opening up this sector to private investment and freeing up the hands of education entrepreneurs, will go a long way in enabling India to graduate the skilled workers and foster the entrepreneurial innovation needed to fulfill the Prime Minister’s dreams for our country!