Skill development is one of the best means to achieve sizeable impact and derive strategic imperatives from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda, especially in challenging times of COVID-19, according to a panel that discussed “Skill Development through CSR” in a webinar organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), North Region.
Batting for strong inter-agency partnerships and bridging the digital divide, the panellists agreed that COVID has changed the way resources are allocated in CSR.
The renewed focus is on employability that leads to employment which further leads to economic upliftment. India is aiming to become a five-trillion-dollar economy and enjoys a strong advantage of vast and young demographic that stands at a crossover of the digital leap.
According to data from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-2018, by 2023, 70 million more people will have entered India’s workforce, therefore, unemployment concerns have shot up lately due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 poses special challenges for skill development. Today when the world faces a crisis, the government, corporates, and implementing agencies are turning to CSR. Promoting education, special education, employment-enhancing vocational skills is the need of the hour and our law has been successful in addressing that. Difficulty in skilling, re-skilling, and people’s employment are some of the key challenges we need to address,” Dr Bhaskar Chatterjee, Former Secretary, Government of India, and Former Director General & CEO- IICA, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs said in his address.
He added that the government must now act as a facilitator and encourage corporates to go more into the skill development. “We also need to meet the dynamic needs of the employers by offering flexibility in the courses being designed, certifications being offered, and the way we train our resources. The need of the hour is to tap into technology to leap-frog youth of today into employability,” he said.
Brigadier PK Goyal (Retd), Conference Chair and Member, Regional Committee on Skill Development and Livelihood, CII Northern Region said COVID-19 and the global lockdown has impacted the skills ecosystem, resulting in an imbalance in the skills landscape.
“There is a dire need to skill, upskill and multi-skill a huge workforce so there is suitable employability. An effective means to do this is through CSR funds. Govt of India, the corporate industry with their funds and the implementing agencies along with consulting agencies are the umbilical link to an effective skilling programme,” he said.
Lt Gen Dr SP Kochhar, Director General – COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) said a good thing at present is that the government has accepted that skilling is a challenge and they are trying to address the gap and that they have been advising a skilling program which is Cooperative, Collaborative, Inclusive, and Adaptive.
“If we use technology, such an initiative becomes easier. Training can be normalized across the country, using technology. We can combine Make in India, Digital India, and Skill India, as complementary models and CSR plays a major role in supporting this initiative. We can create co-skilling spaces, with soft and IT skills at the entry-level segment, generic sector skills at the next level of the segment, and the third level is the vaulted training centres where domain knowledge is imparted by industry experts,” he added.
By: Murtuza Merchant