Digital India and Skill India can go hand-in-hand

Thirumal Raj is the Founder and CEO of STC Skills
Thirumal Raj, Founder and CEO, STC Skills

The Skill India Mission has gained strong support from various initiators ever since its launch in July last year. Aimed at creating a skilled workforce within the next couple of years – by training over 40 crore individuals in multifarious fields by the year 2022, this mission is gradually gaining awareness and acceptance across India.

Additionally, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) Scheme, under this initiative, is playing a significant role in providing short-term training, recognition of prior skills attained, and placement assistance among other activities. So far, close to 20 Lakh individuals have enrolled under this scheme. Out of them, around 19, 72, 855 have successfully completed their training while over 12, 97, 368 have been certified – making them job ready across 32 sector skill councils and 416 job roles.

Now, let us take a minute and focus on another initiative announced by the government of India, viz. ‘Digital India’ programme. Launched on July 2, 2015, this initiative has three chief elements: The creation of digital infrastructure, Digital delivery of services, and Digital literacy. Since its launch, multiple steps have been taken to ensure this campaign’s success across the Indian demography, targeting what is now being called the Nine ‘Pillars of Digital India ‘to turn this dream into reality:

o Broadband Highways
o Universal Access to Mobile Connectivity
o Public Internet Access Programme
o e-Governance – Reforming Government through Technology
o eKranti – Electronic delivery of services
o Information for All
o Electronics Manufacturing
o Digital or IT for Jobs
o Early Harvest Programmes

Since both initiatives come at a time when India is hoping to become a global economic powerhouse, it has become imperative for the government and other key motivators to invest in this country’s workforce.

Fact: India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. According to a report by the World Bank, India’s working age population was estimated to be around 53.14% back in 2014. However, despite these numbers, it could not be justified why the country still had a skilled workforce of less than 5%. If we consider all factors like lack of basic facilities, parental pressure, and/or poverty – it can explain the problem of skill attainment and recognition. Moreover, it also brings light to the fact that India lacks the kind of infrastructure that is required to upskill the population, or to make them digitally literate. This is where both ‘Skill India’ mission and ‘Digital India’ campaign can work hand –in-hand to provide a viable solution for such challenges.

India has a 1.3 billion strong population, out of which over 353 million have access to basic internet facilities, overtaking USA as the second largest internet user base in the world. The highest percentage of internet users in the country, i.e. 38% come under the age bracket of 26-35 years, which is roughly the same as that of India’s working-age population. While it is estimated that internet penetration in urban areas is close to 54.43%, in rural areas it is estimated to be a meagre 12.81%. Going by these stats, it is quite apparent that the rural population of our country has limited access to basic internet facilities. Therefore, collaborative efforts via both ‘Digital India’ and ‘Skill India’ campaigns is required in order to greatly elevate the status of individuals belonging to such areas.

According to Indian Union Telecom Minister – Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, it is possible for both ‘Digital India’ and ‘Skill India’ to work hand-in-hand. According to a statement, he has stated that over 2.5 lakh panchayats in the country were being digitally connected so that people were digitally empowered. Additionally, he stressed on the importance of digital literacy across sectors – be it in healthcare or Government establishments in order to create more awareness on technological aspects in various industries. This can encourage people to undergo training in tech-related fields and thus, fulfil the purpose of Skill development.

Although still at a very nascent stage, it can be concluded for now that ‘Skill India’ mission and ‘Digital India’ campaign are co-related and can help create a comprehensive learning ecosystem that can sustain a skilled workforce in the long run.

About the author: Thirumal Raj is the Founder and CEO of STC Skills, a Global Skill Development Company servicing Government and larger corporations in the areas of skill development and job placements. In his present role, Thirumal Raj is responsible for the organization’s overall strategic growth planning as well as marketing & operations functions. After working for some time with Cognizant Technology Solutions, Thirumal Raj founded STC Skills along with two other founders, Saran Vel and Madhusaran.

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