India’s Demographic Dividend and NSDC

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Spent the day Friday attending the CLO Summit India, a day well spent with some nice presentations and as is the wont with such conferences, some not-so-nice presentations. While it didn’t behoove such a conference to include sales pitches, it didn’t surprise me all that much. I’d rather focus on the interesting bits, and perhaps the most interesting was a presentation made by Dilip Chenoy, CEO and MD of the National Skill Development Corporation of India. For one, it was very nice to see an erudite gentleman representing a Government of India body, second it was great to see the GoI waking up to realize that India’s demographic dividend would be worthless without the right skills.

It’s been an issue all along, while India churns out hundreds of thousands, if not millions of university graduates each year, very few of those are employable. Anyone who’s interviewed individuals during recruitment drives knows this. This problem is only set to grow as millions enter the workforce. The as NSDC sees it : The sheer numbers that require training – while I’m not absolutely certain about the numbers, India needs to re-skill or upgrade skills in 500 million individuals by 2022. Numbers that pose a huge challenge in themselves. The lack of vocational training – which leads to ‘un-employability’. In the current scenario, the quality of vocational education offered is pitiful. The government is inadequately equipped and doesn’t really have the funds to train the millions. Another aspect is that most if not all vocational training in India is out-dated that complicates the un-employability issue.

The NSDC was formed by the government of India in partnership with the private sector with the aim to ameliorate this complex situation. It’s been mandated to create large, quality, for-profit, vocational training institutes in India that will address the growing skill gap. Their objective is to improve/impart skills to at least 130+ million individuals (30% of the 500 million). Goes without saying it’s a huge challenge for any private/public partnership, and it was heartening to hear that several private enterprises have already taken the initiative and are being funded (in return for equity or as loans) by NSDC.

If you’re in India and think you have an idea that can make a difference to vocational education, you should definitely check out the NSDC site and apply for funding. One caveat though, they’re looking for ideas that can make a difference to tens of thousands individuals; so your idea must have potential for large scale.

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