KASHMIR NEEDS SKILL BASED HUMAN RESOURCES

Peer G N Suhail

Kashmir is blessed with natural resources, especially water. But it can not rely only on that, and neglect other sectors. We need human resource development when means of production are not resource intensive but knowledge intensive, writes G. N. Suhail in an analytical article. Every year thousands of students graduate, but are not table to find jobs, because of non-availability of jobs and also due to lack of skills that job market demands. Education system needs restructuring and transformation. Those pursuing education for jobs can opt for professional and market oriented programmes. The state has started a skill development mission, but it is in infancy stage. Collaboration and coordination among stake holders have to be strengthened to have effective outcome of the skill training.

Excerpts:

 

Need for HRD:

“The underlying narrative for development framework in every country is the strategy that determines the effectiveness of its fiscal, monetary, microeconomic, trade, investment and economic regulation policy and judicious use of resources — be it natural, human and capital based. (Richard H. K Vietor, How Countries Compete, 2007). While no attempt is made here to use Vieter’s framework in whole, though I have cited him in my previous works, to analyse skill development path in  the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)  but as a student of International Development Policy and as the head of  State Skill  Development Mission which  contributes in building J&K’s human resource through skill development,  I  take a leaf out from it to analyse and focus on why and how J&K  can work towards a human resource induced development path.

 

Abundance of Resources:

“Without any doubt J&K is blessed with natural resources and there is a large-scale consensus among the people in the state, and rightly so, that the natural resources of the region, especially water, if tapped, would boost its economy like other resource rich regions. However, the state may suffer from “Dutch disease” if it plans to only rely on natural resource and resource-extractivism for economic development and neglect other sectors. Resource-extractivism will also lead to ecological destruction and other collateral social and economic damage. Given our small landholdings, scarcity of arable land, fragile ecology, geographical disadvantage and political instability, I believe human resource development can play a critical role in economic development of the state, especially when means of production are not just resources intensive but also knowledge intensive. A cursory look at the state’s human resource development paths tell us that the state is building human resource by imparting education through schools, colleges and universities, ITIs, Polytechnics at the institutional level, on the other hand, there is huge untapped potential of knowledge economy operating in different areas of state. Not stereotyping this as just confined to the traditional crafts but a whole economy that is emerging based on skill, innovation and entrepreneurship in different niche areas across the state. The question arises why this potential of human resource-based economy is not translating into a success story of its own. What are the challenges and how they are being addressed”.

 

Restructuring the system:

“One of the biggest challenges is the mismatch between the education/training and the market demand. Every year thousands of students graduate from universities and colleges with bachelors, masters and PhD degrees, but majority of them are not able to find jobs either due to non-availability of jobs in the state or lack of skills that job market demands. While the government cannot be expected to offer jobs beyond a limit, private sector demands skilled labour. It is important to identify what skill is relevant to the industry   and link it with the training delivery of technical and vocational education programmes. The crucial step here is this identification and the possible approach to address the same through skill gap surveys at different levels. These surveys will not only capture the supply base of the trained candidates but can provide information on the skills required.  In contextualising with the education set up, the problem of this mismatch goes even deeper where in some instances, the highest qualification required as eligibility for top level positions in government jobs is a graduation degree. The middle or lower run position in the public sector, baring few technical positions, mostly need non-degree –10+2— or in fewer cases bachelor’s degrees. The situation is not different in the existing, even though negligible, private sector either in the state, where the basic eligibility for entry level position is graduation or a relevant professional degree. As there are not many jobs available that can commensurate their education degrees, degree holders apply and take the jobs that are meant for non-degree holders. What comes out(a) it pushes down or pushes out less educated from the job market and (b) it creates a lot of educated people doing “less privileged” work who may neither be satisfied with the work nor with salary they get”.

 

Need for Transformation:

“The classic case of higher degree holders going for low rung jobs cannot be solved by only doing skill gap surveys and matching demand and supply gaps but the education system as a whole needs restructuring and transformation. Those interested in research, innovation and teaching can pursue higher education in the universities and those who are pursuing education for jobs can opt for professional and market-oriented education programmes. Otherwise, instead of building a productive human resource, the existing education system is becoming part of the problem and creating an educated jobless lot. With 71 percent of its population under the age of 35, the state can reap the benefits of demographic dividend, if this huge army of youth are made job-ready. With market driven skills youth of J&K can not only address the unemployment problems of the state but can also bridge the labour deficit of labour scarce countries such as Japan, Germany, Singapore, Italy and many more. J&K has been taking serious efforts in building skilled human resource and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship through various departments and academic institutions such as Technical Education, Industries, Agriculture, Horticulture, Tourism, Social Welfare. An independent and dedicated State Skill Development Mission has also been established to bring in convergence and synergy in all these efforts and support a collaborative approach for skill development in the state. The mission, even though still at infancy stage, evolved from existing centrally-sponsored-scheme driven skill development strategy and crafted and designed tailor-made skill development strategy focusing on skill, entrepreneurship, innovation, collaboration, promotion, glamorisation, career guidance, mindset change, and research. Thus, it started programmes such as executive education and leadership fellowship, created career counselling and placement cells in Jammu and Srinagar, Talaash – In search of Innovators & Entrepreneurs, annual Talaash Skill and Entrepreneurship Conclave. To restore the dignity to skilled or so called ‘blue collar’ jobs, and to ignite interest of youth towards skills the state for the first-time prepared youth for world skill competition—known as Skill Olympics where already seven of its candidates have reached to the national level competition.  The skills competitions and other skill, entrepreneurship, innovation and other allied human resource development programmes of JKSDM has generated curiosity among the youth and others”.

 

Aspirations of the youth:

“Lastly, agencies and individuals associated with human resource development need to be well aware and better equipped to understand aspirations of youth and job market demands. We cannot address 21st century youth problems with 20th century methods. While there is a huge opportunity to provide youth of the state with the right kind of skills but it is also a big challenge and added responsibility on the skill implementing agencies to meet their expectations. No doubt, JKSDM is committed to make skill education/ training inspirational by introducing tailor-made skill, innovation and entrepreneurship programmes, however, building human resource through quality skill training, innovation and entrepreneurship needs a collaborative approach of all the skill implementing agencies/ departments. Collaboration and coordination among the stakeholders have to be strengthened to have effective outcome of the skill training that includes avoiding duplication and triplication of trainings.  A mechanism needs to be developed for sharing real-time information on skill development programmes across different departments like list of candidates trained, placed or undergoing training and the list of training providers, assessment agencies and other details. The collaboration and cooperation between the agencies will also help in improving the quality of training, which can be a driving force for success of skill development programmes”.

 

[Courtesy: Greater Kashmir, Srinagar, Kashmir, September 04, 2018].

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