Looking Ahead 2023 NSDC Developing Online Counselling Solution Says CEO Ved Mani Tiwari
NSDC, a not-for-profit public limited company set up by the Ministry of Finance in 2008, has been at the helm of skills development initiatives in the country for over a decade, identifying in-demand areas and training needs, driving tie-ups and collaborations, training of trainers, international collaborations and India’s participation in World Skills competition. CEO Ved Mani Tiwari, CEO of the organisation, sheds light on the recent initiatives, and the skilling needs in 2023. Excerpts:
We are coming towards the end of 2022. Can you tell me looking back how has this year been for you and going forward, what kind of initiatives are you planning on launching in the coming year?
For NSDC, this year has been very fruitful. We took a lot of new initiatives. To begin with, we started focusing on developing a fee-based market, which requires access to loans. So, education loans are now available for students who are skilling and cannot access education loans. We, also, started working at the beginning of the year with Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) and designing a product which can be accessed by the skill students.
In this process we have secured commitment from five NBFCs for upto 5,000 crore rupees in the fee-based market, where they can provide loans to students who want to take skill courses.
Inasmuch we have successfully skilled close to five lakh students, which makes up approximately 1,000 crore market value. So, a thousand crore fee-based market was created. Moreover since the skill courses were employment-oriented, NSDC, through these institutes was able to place nearly two and half lakh people. In that regard, skill-loan, as a product, helped revive the market from both opportunity and access perspective.
We, also, brought in lot of new age courses in the IT, healthcare, drones training, banking and financial service domains. It was a new dimension for even us.
Secondly, we are proud of our digital team. We have taken a giant leap as far as the digital skilling is concerned. The team is working on a skill India digital platform which is like a Google of skills. Anybody who needs any skills can search for skill India and they will reach the Skill India digital platform. This platform will provide online, offline and blended courses for skills; and some very novel features are coming into this such as the ‘nearby’ feature, to find training centres and base facilities in close proximity and a learning management system. Our vision is ‘skills for all, anytime, anywhere’ because the digital platforms allow people to access skills at the time and place of their choice.
The third dimension of this is the global dimension. We set up a subsidiary company last year in October, which we call ‘NSDC International’. Over the last few months the company has done well and has witnessed a huge demand for skilled Indians from all over the world. Currently, we are working on close to 10,000 demands from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Australia and Ireland.
The final area where we are very focused is bringing skills to the education system. We are working with foreign universities and trying to bring international grid skill courses to India.
Can you tell me which industries are in most demand for skilled workers right now? And what scaling courses are in most demand?
In the global skills market, the IT, healthcare and construction are the three sectors which are in high demand. When it comes to India, we find that manufacturing has picked up really well. Logistics is other sector where there is a lot of demand. Retail is also picking up very fast. I’m very confident that there will be lots of job opportunities for individuals in these sectors in the next year.
How are your courses making sure that students who are getting skilled or getting ready for a career, not just a job?
Counselling helps people to think about their careers. So, we are building an online counselling solution which everybody should be able to access over NSDC digital platforms.
Creating awareness is the second challenge. Bringing lots of affordable courses to the people which help them shape their career and informing them of the directions they can take beyond the first job.
We, also, conduct a skill gap analysis for individuals. We are working on a solution where people should be able to define their career goals on the basis of the skills that they have today and what skills would be required to realise their career, a skill gap analysis will emerge and which is kind of a diagnostics to any individual and then, we provide the courses to address this skill gaps.
Have you noticed any kind of a pattern in what employers are looking for and what kind of skills or what factors are more likely to get one employed?
The realisation that we have had over last few months is soft skills are critical not only for those who are in the workforce, but actually, if not more than, equally critical for those who want to join the workforce. That is what I think employers today are looking for- how do future employees present themselves? how are their communication skills and their ability to work in teams?
Typically, someone joining the job market for the first time might be working in a very closed cohesive groups of their friends and families and close circles. When they come to work place are required to work with very diverse group of people. There’s a lot of work to be done in this area.
India is such a diverse country and we have so many different people from different backgrounds. How can we ensure inclusivity?
We have chosen four core values – integrity, innovation, inclusion and impact. So inclusion is something very dear to our heart. We have taken specific measures in that direction, such as our ‘Skill Impact Bond’, which is focused on employment and retention of women who are impacted by Covid-related chronic disruption.
This year itself we have been able to train and place close to 10,000 women in that category. The inclusion agenda also requires local opportunities for women and other social groups. We started lots of multi-skilling programmes, especially in tribal area that are rich in resources. The effort is to ensure that every person acquires more than one skill and can leverage these local resources. This way they should be able to create market-friendly products.
You do have like long standing relationship with countries like Japan. Are there any plans to have any similar partnerships with other countries?
We have studied 16 countries and we find that there is a large opportunity for India because our study shows that these 16 countries alone have requirement of close to 1.8 million or 18 lakh skilled professionals, so that’s a massive opportunity. It’s like the Y2K movement for India. When Y2K happened the Indian IT professionals were suddenly in huge demand in the US and we have never looked back.
There are European nations where the demand is coming up. GCC has a large requirement. Australia and Canada, with their matured immigration systems are also showing demand for Indian skilled professionals.
We have set up our offices and our subsidiary companies in UAE, Australia and we are in the process of doing so in Malaysia.
Where do you think India’s strength lies when it comes to the global talent pool?
Post Covid, the realisation is that lots of care-jobs are in the market whether it’s for people who might be undergoing health issues or elderly people or neo-natal and children.
India is best placed to participate in the care economy given our social and cultural constructs. We are also seeing lots of teaching jobs all across the globe.
However, I am conscious of this fact that the teachers are also needed in India. We first have to meet our internal need and then look outwards. Similarly, nurses are in great demand.
Have you noticed any kind of discrepancies between the kind of opportunities that are available versus the kind of things that people are actually interested in learning?
We have to expand the basket of skill programmes and that is why ‘skills for all’ is a critical value statement that we have for ourselves. Once you expand the range of options available to individuals, they will be able to choose options which make sense for them. Otherwise, today they have to rely on the informal counselling methods and other people.
All over the world we are witnessing the demand for degrees going down. Before there was an information asymmetry, but now that we have solved this, there is a new opportunity before us in skill courses. We need to spread awareness of these options.
What kind of attitude do you think students have towards degrees?
There is a realisation and a need in the private sector to have people who are narrowly skilled. However, our world of education does not understand that it needs to be better integrated and meet the needs of the world of work and employment. Advocacy is one area we need to focus on a lot.
We may have to work on this in the coming years because even the industry sometimes has difficulty assessing the skills it requires. It’s a work in progress but eventually we will reach there.
Overall, it has been a very satisfying year for NSDC and in the next financial year we are going to take a giant leap and accomplish multiples of what we have started.