Today is the day when skills matter, and qualifications matter only to some extent.  The Indian organizations and even those like the NGOs want only people who can directly perform, not those who need training in the first place.  

There are several reasons why this happens and it is essential to understand some ground realities in this regard.

Firstly, the business environment has changed totally.  Competencies -- which are bundles of skills and technologies -- have to be built by organizations.  Human beings matter most, as they have the skills.  However, the skills have to be executed on machinery and sophisticated computers.  They need to be executed in creative fields and the key is always skill.

Secondly, the pace of development is huge in India, which is now regarded as one of the fastest growing economies of the world, riding on the back of a big surge in the service sector. 

Thirdly, those with skills do things much faster and better.  They are able to comprehend things faster and do things faster, which is exactly what is needed by Indian organizations.

Fourthly, it is a fact of life that organizations are changing very fast and require a bundle of skills to deal with the enormous complexity of challenges at every stage.

Identifying what suits one's passion

It is very easy to acquire some skill but very difficult to plan something that suits one's passion.  For instance, one may have a big passion for music.  If it is vocal, then the person needs intensive training in Carnatic Music or the Hindustani Music or  both.  He or she will do better to follow this passion to its logical conclusion, and take one step at a time.

For security, many persons are just bank clerks.  However, they moment they reach home, in the next twenty minutes they are with their respective Gurus.  This is exactly what we should be do.  Have a big passion -- which is mostly very natural and is there in each of us -- and then execute plans that will ensure that we satisfy our passion.

Similarly, there are any number of skills that one can acquire.  For instance, those who are good in compering, can get trained in that and go on to take up jobs in the TV channels, even on a part time basis.  Those with a gift of the gab and who are born extroverts can easily get into journalism and even go ahead to specialize in advertising and so on.  

Get training in basic and specialized skills compulsorily 

Some three decades ago, every educated person would take up a basic skill -- typewriting.  Today, this is as good as gone, as people work only on computers.  However, today one has to compulsorily know how to work on Ms-Word, Ms- Excel, Ms-Powerpoint and so on, and on C++, Java and so on.

Those with an ordinary MBA from a second class or third class B school, can easily do additional courses in SAP in Marketing, or HR, or Materials Management or Finance, in accordance with one's specialization, and then move ahead.  Once this is done, it becomes so easy to graduate to a very good career, with very good salary and perks.

Hence, this sort of basic and specialized skills is so essential, if he or she were to be ready in the job market.

Training in the trades  

Today, the training in basic trades like electrician, the plumber, the welder, fitter and even carpenter, is attempted by so many private organizations and even the Government.  However, when this is not taken seriously, even in rural areas.  Perhaps, the dignity of labor is an issue -- people would rather work in the fields doing their traditional work, rather than be identified as someone specializing in such skills.  Earlier in some castes, the carpenter skill was a sort of traditional trade, but today, most men and women have started studying very well, and have graduated towards far better jobs. 

Still, there is a tremendous scope for training in these trades, and the amount that one gets to earn is equal to that of engineers.  For example, trained carpenters who specialize in designer kitchens in the metros earn upwards of Rs.1000/- per day, and are in huge demand. 

So, what is needed is a huge amount of communication between the training agencies and the rural youth.  Career counseling should be arranged through the Non-governmental agencies and the local Panchayat leaders and so on.  Once this is done, the rural youth would be motivated to join for professional training in such trades.

Training in the soft skills arena

This is a huge multi-million dollar business, and it goes on merrily in India.  However, in a most majority of colleges, including the best of the so called engineering colleges, there is neither an appraisal of the effectiveness of the training, or the post-training performance of the students in the real world.

The yardsticks are very confusing and no attempt has been made to form any template.  This is an urgent priority.  For example, is a person good in executing creative skills, which are these days even demanded on the shop floor in engineering industries, particularly when managing manpower coming from different cultural backgrounds, like those from the North of India, now being employed in a huge number of factories in South India?

The issues are very complex indeed and something needs to be done.

Hence, skills matter the most, and unless we go in for the maximum amount of skilling, we will not be able to reap the benefits of having a huge population in India.  At various levels, a huge number of initiatives are needed and this is one area of big concern.  The time to act is now. 

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