Skilling on their mind

Chennai: Skilling and upskilling are the buzz words as the Tamil Nadu government chases its dream of jobs for 25 lakh young people and a $1trillion economy by 2030. And it has decided to rope in industry to help train people to do the jobs on offer, now and in the future.

“Our chief minister’s vision is to make Tamil Nadu, the skill capital of India. The skill development mission must be tuned to what industry needs,” says J Innocent Divya, managing director of the Tamil Nadu Skill Development Corporation (TNSDC ).

So TNSDC is getting industries that have their own training institutes on board through the ‘green channel’ route. They won’t have to go through the lengthy process of empanelment required for a training partner.

“We are granting them easy access and all their programmes will come under the banner of TNSDC. We will provide funds and ensure that even rural youth undergo such training to land good jobs,” says Divya. “So far, more than 10 corporates have expressed their intent to collaborate with TNSDC.”

In the short term, TNSDC has asked all districts to identify at least one lead sector — like apparel for Tirupur and Coimbatore and electronics for Hosur (Krishnagiri) – on which they can concentrate.

The long-term approach could be the skill gap study being initiated in every district. “It will be a study based on the industrial climate in the state, the corridors that are coming up, and the need of the industries – not just the major ones but also small and micro units. We are not going to work in isolation, but in tandem with industry,” says Divya.

TNSDC also plans to create at least 10 centres of excellence (CoEs) for specific sectors over the next financial year. It will leverage the experience and technology of the skill councils of 36 different sectors that have a big presence in the state.

“Talent and skills increasingly defining the identity of a company, state or nation. Just like Israel is synonymous with cybersecurity and Germany with engineering, states and nations are investing heavily in chosen areas to drive excellence at scale and increase economic and social value. It is heartening to see the Tamil Nadu government identify a few areas of focus and allow industry to take the lead in skilling and upskilling the vast talent in the state. Industry leaders are best positioned to curate and deliver programmes are relevant to the rapidly changing landscape and aligned to the future of work,” says Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, former CMD, Cognizant India, and pro-vice-chancellor, Krea University.

Basically, TNSDC is focused on three areas. First is training all unemployed rural youth. They may be semi-skilled, totally unskilled or might not have had a formal education. TNSDC will train them in different skills and get them employment. It will designate certain sectors and job roles for such rural youth.

The next focus will be on students – in schools and colleges – who have formal education, but never underwent any vocational training. When they look for jobs, their skills are not tuned to the requirements of industry. The idea is to groom them in a particular field to suit the needs of that industry. Vocationalising the curriculum will be a major focus for TNSDC. The concept will be of a finishing school, which can be partially or fully subsidized. The idea is to increase the employability of a college student.

The third level will be to upskill existing professionals. TNSDC is trying to collaborate with universities across the globe for this. It has taken the public private partnership (PPP) route to establish apex skill development centres with private partners in BFSI, construction, healthcare, logistics and automobiles.

“The next phase will be to ensure that entrepreneurship is built into this model, so that youngsters not only look for a placement but eventually become entrepreneurs and offer jobs for others,” says Divya. But that is an evolving story of the future to be built on skilling.

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