It is seen by and large that there has been rapid growth in higher education in India . The demand for a quality service has increased with the increase in purchasing power of perople. But there is predominant degree of shortage of skilled manpower in the country. Education without skill cannot be useful to the industries and skill development is to be integrated with higher education course curricula so that necessary trained manpower shall be available at the disposal of the users of the manpower in the economy. India has the second largest population of the working age of 18-60 years individuals in the world. 21st century is the age earmarked for the people attributed with higher education and requisite skill in the area of specialization. Education empowers the nation and it is an important input for having rapid economic development of the society at large. Education with requisite skill can increase national gross product, positive attitude towards using technology in the place of labour, increase efficiency and effectiveness in the sphere of decision making and socio-economic governance. Education with skill develops competencies and confidence among job seekers and the labour force of the country.
But it is matter of regret that even after passage of seventy years of independence, India is lagging far behind in imparting skill and training with the theoretical knowledge based higher education as compared to other developed countries across the globe. As compared to the economically developed countries attributed with a burden of ageing population, India is having a unique advantage of 20-35 years window opportunity technically known as demographic dividend. Due to demographic dividend, India as compared to other developing and developed countries, shall enjoy a higher proportion of working age population as a proportion of its entire population. India is among the top ten countries in the world in which the employers are facing difficulty in placement of employment seekers due to non availability of skilled man power. The prime concern in finding and locating suitable candidates for available jobs in the country is the deficit of employability quotient in the absence of both hard and soft skill. It is pertinent to mention that worldwide, the percentage of employers facing difficulties in filling up vacancies which are rising at alarming rate. India ranks 7th in experiencing difficulties in filling up vacancies with a score of 58% and it is much above the global average score which is 38% in 2015. The unorganized sector is of dismal condition. Employers are facing major difficulties in filing up vacancies in the areas of Accounting & Finance(due to dearth of Qualified Accountants), Company Secretaries, Teachers, Engineers, R & D Scientists etc. Higher education sector has witnessed substantial increase in the number of Universities and Colleges and University level institutions since independence.
The number of Universities has increased 34 times from 20 in 1950 to 677 in 2014. This sector boasts of 45 Central Universities, 318 are State Universities, 185 are private Universities, 129 Deemed to be Universities, 51 Institutions of National Importance besides the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), the Institute of Cost Accountants of India(ICAI) and the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs).The number of Colleges has also witnessed manifold increase of 74 times with 500 in 1950 to 37,204 as in 2013. But skill development is lagging behind and does not keep pace along with growth in institutions of higher education in the country. Government of India giving priority to skill development in 12ft Five Year Plan but the same is inadequate to meet the requirement.
Over the years , the private sector has increased its presence in the field of vocational education in India but still the same is quite inadequate to meet the requirements of the country. Economic development is probably impossible without having skilled manpower. Skill development has to be integrated with the education both in undergraduate and postgraduate level. India as a whole has to give due importance to the development of skilled work force in order to have rapid economic development. Considering the rate at which the eligible working force of India is growing, the skill development initiative both by Government and private sector is falling short. India is likely to emerge as a service-driven economy with quality human capital as her competitive advantage. In order to maintain continual growth in the economy, India needs to develop manufacturing sector too besides the service sector and it is an imperative obligation on the part of the government to integrate skill development initiative with higher education in order to have rapid socio-economic development. Inadequate skill development facilities in the country is of course a serious concern for all. Skilling should receive sustained attention of the decision makers. It is worth mentioning that Government of India has installed a new Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and this may add necessary strength in the process of skill development but the main stream education has to be integrated with skilled development initiative in order to garner the desired fruits.
Though Government of India has introduced a new Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, but structural clarity including operational mandate with the skilling programmes of other Ministries is still absent. It would be imperative for the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to integrate its focus with the other Ministries at strategic, tactical and operational levels of management so that it can discharge its responsibilities with professional credibility. The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) is also to get efficient and effective training players backed by employers and industry to join the training industry and institutions since credibility and sustainable infrastructure would be pivot to meet the target of 150 million training by 2022. It is not denying fact that knowledge, skills and productivity have linear relationship and the trio forms the backbone of the economy. Quality of service depends on the quality of human capital that is pivotal force to strengthen the economy. Growing and dynamic workforce is the prerequisite to bringing about socio-economic development of the country and in order to garner the benefit of demographic dividend, the government should be proactive to implement the reform initiative in the education sector in general and higher education sector in particular. To call a spade a spade, In order to become knowledge based economy, India has to give due importance and weight-age on quality of education, requisite skill development and integration of the same with quality education, affordability of education and the relevant ethical issues. Quality is the effect where as infrastructure, teaching community and accreditation are the constituents of cause. Affordability of education means that merit is the ultimate target and poor and deserving students under no circumstances are denied the right to higher and quality education at any cost to nation. Finally ethics play its guiding roles under different situation. It prevents education from being commercialized. Government and private sector has to work together for bringing about renaissance in skill development and integrating the same with education at large.
There is no short cut to cause economic development in a country like India and knowledge, skill and productivity are the basic constituents for the same. There is an urgent need to promote quality teaching in order to raise the teaching standards in the classrooms across the country. Education plays an important role in overcoming the various challenges that affect the performance of human capital in the world. The imparted education and skill should be such which enable the prospective employers to fill up the job vacancies without any hesitancy. India’s rapid economic development perhaps is impossible unless and until higher education system is integrated with skill development initiative and this is the need of the hour to reap the benefit of demographic dividend.
(The author is Professor of Management & Dean-Faculty of Management, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra, Jammu & Kashmir, India)