“SKILL DEVELOPMENT is the game changer for next generation students”
Dr. Zuleika Homavazir - DMS - Wilson College, Mumbai
“SKILL DEVELOPMENT is the game changer for next generation students”
Dr. Zuleika Homavazir – DMS – Wilson College, Mumbai

An eminent professional, educationist and nationalist Dr. Zuleika Homavazir has carved a niche in society. Her rise to distinction can be attributed to her determination to ascend above all odds. She strongly believes that the young generation is truly sincere, dedicated and keen to adopt new practices. They can successfully meet any challenge, if they receive focused attention, inspiring atmosphere and a bit of extra care.

Dr. Zuleika heads the Department of Management Studies at The Wilson College. She has made a distinct contribution to modernizing and revitalizing the existing regime at the Institution.  Often referred as “The Iron Lady”, under her leadership, the Department of Management Studies of Wilson College has been ranked 4th best in the country and 2nd best in Mumbai as per ‘India Today’ in June 2012 ranking.

Dr. Zuleika has spear-headed a number of Committees to undertake Educational Collaborations with foreign Universities and was appreciated by the Vice Chancellor – University of Toronto, Canada. She is also the CAP Examiner, Viva- Voce Examiner and Moderator on the Board of Studies at Mumbai University. She has also served as an integral member of the recruitment board with Educational Institutions and Nationalized Banks.

How do you see the growth of Education and Skill Development initiatives in India Today?

  • On the demand side, a skill gap study has been conducted by National Skill Development Corporation in 2014, which indicates that there is an additional net requirement 11.92 Crore skilled manpower in twenty four key sectors by 2022.
  • Our country has a big challenge ahead as it is estimated that only 2.3% of the total workforce in India has under gone formal skill trainings as compared to 68% of U.K. 75% in Germany 52% in USA 80% in Japan and 96% in South Korea.
  • Skill development has still not positioned itself as a value proposition for candidates since employers are not ready to pay a higher skill premium to compensate for their skills. Moreover, paucity of jobs combined with oversupply of new entrants to the job, at the rate of around 1 million persons every month, has also kept the skilled and semi-skilled wages low.
  • Job creation for skilled youth is also a major challenge before the nation. Entrepreneurship based on innovation has immense growth potential which can also create jobs for our youth. However, the number of local entrepreneurs emerging every year in India is very low. According to a World Bank study on Entrepreneurship in 2010 which compares the new business registration density of South Asian countries with the rest of the world, it was found that contrary to popular belief, India has too few entrepreneurs for its stage of development, even when compared to other countries such as Thailand, Brazil & Malaysia. Accelerating entrepreneurship and self-employment is crucial for large-scale employment generation in India.
  • Keeping above facts in mind, the government of India has launched many programmes to cater the skill needs of the youths in conformability with industrial requirement. Recently announced Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Policy 2015 is a right step in this direction.
  • The rise in the relative share of the working age population in the economy is treated as the demographic dividend. This description shows that the link between higher economic growth and favourable demographic conditions is not automatic and that it has to be established through sound institution, good policies and investment in skill development activities, healthcare and education which can be recouped in the long run through higher productivity. In this connection our PM Narendra Modi has also called for making India as Skill Capital of the world. Nation Skill Development Mission is a right step in this direction. Success depends upon availability of high quality trainer, quality infrastructure needed for imparting high quality training and effective state policies and their efficient implementation. It is possible only if our education system is geared up itself  to support nations economic agenda by creating job ready and employable workforce through increased focus on imparting structural and technical skills this would be critical for achieving faster, sustainable and inclusive growth on the one hand and for providing decent employment opportunities to the growing young population and the needy sections of the society on the other. The vocationalization of higher education is also essential for reaping the benefit of “Demographic Dividend”.

What’s your view on the demand for skilled professionals in both the organized and unorganized parts across sectors?

  • With improvement in agriculture technology, better opportunities in non-farm sector, increased productivity of Agricultural workforce etc there will be a migration from Agriculture to non-agriculture sector. It is estimated that there will be net surplus of 2.4 crore people in agriculture by 2022 as per the skill gap studies conducted by the NSDC. This implies that an estimated additional 2.4 crore workforce will also enter non-farm sector that will also need to be skilled over next seven years. Thus, it is evident broadly that 11.9 crore fresh entrants to workforce over next seven years by 2022 will need to be skilled. In addition, 30.7 crore of existing farm and non-farm sector workforce will need to be skilled, up-skilled or re-skilled.
  • No country in the world faces a challenge of this proportion. Current annual skilling capacity, including training for the farm sector, in India is estimated at 7 million. This capacity needs to Scale-up with Speed and Standards combined with more job opportunities both nationally and globally. Thus, appropriate infrastructure needs to be created keeping in view the sectoral and geographical demands.

There is so much stress on Engineering, Medical and MBA programs, a lot of this has been fuelled by the IT industry and related fields in our country, is this the only way to move ahead?

India is one of the largest producer of engineers in the world. Yet the quality of engineers is quite poor and by some estimates only 7-8% of engineering graduates are employable.  There is a dire need to upgrade nursing education. WHO’s 6 module nursing standards should be adopted.

MBA institutes  should upgrade their level of education. Faculty should be able to share corporate & industry applications. In order to improve the quality of education in the above areas, industry tie ups to gain corporate exposure is the only key where class room learning can be applied to real life situations and the IT industry can fulfil this need through distant learning modes.

“Presently India is going through a phase of demographic transition where in it’s young population dominates the labour force of the country”

Do you see FDI in the Education sector coming to India in a big way? The sector has done really well over the years after all, so, any investments would be a safe bet. Your views.

The total amount of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) inflow into the education sector in India stood at US$ 1,383.62 million from April 2000 to December 2016, according to data released by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).The education and training sector in India has witnessed some major investments and developments in the recent past. Some of them are:

  • UAE-based Gamma Group, outlined plans of investing around Rs 3,000 crore (US$ 450 million) in the infrastructure, health and education sectors of Kerala, which is expected to generate around 2,000 indirect and direct jobs in the state.
  • Education technology companies in India raised around US$ 323 million across 26 deals in 2016, as against US$ 98 million raised through 23 deals in 2015.
  • India and Germany have signed an agreement on vocational education and skill development with a budget of US$ 3.37 million, which will help create and improve cooperative workplace-based vocational training in India’s industrial clusters.

Which segment, the Education industry or the Skill Development industry, is expected to see a surge over the next 2 years?

The education sector in India is poised to witness major growth in the years to come as India will have world’s largest tertiary-age population and second largest graduate talent pipeline globally by the end of 2020. In FY 2015-16, the education market was worth about US$ 100 billion and is expected to reach US$ 116.4 billion in FY 2016-17. Currently, higher education contributes 59.7 per cent of the market size, school education 38.1 per cent, pre-school segment 1.6 per cent, and technology and multi-media the remaining 0.6 per cent.

Higher education system in India has undergone rapid expansion. Currently, India’s higher education system is the largest in the world enrolling over 70 million students while in less than two decades, India has managed to create additional capacity for over 40 million students. At present, higher education sector witnesses spending of over Rs 46,200 crore (US$ 6.93 billion), and it is expected to grow at an average annual rate of over 18 per cent to reach Rs 232,500 crore (US$ 34.87 billion) in next 10 years.

  • Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi launched the Skill India initiative – ‘Kaushal Bharat, Kushal Bharat’. Under this initiative, the government has set itself a target of training 400 million citizens by 2022 that would enable them to find jobs. The initiatives launched include various programmes like: Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, Skill Loan scheme, and the National Skill Development Mission.
  • PMKVY is the flagship program under the Skill India Initiative and it includes incentivising skill training by providing financial rewards on completion of training to the participants. The Union Government plans to set up skill development centres across India with an investment of Rs 12,000 crore (US$ 1.8 billion) to create job opportunities for 10 million individuals by 2020 under PMKVY, as per Mr Bandaru Dattatreya, Minister of Labour and Employment.
  • National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 is India’s first integrated program to develop skill and promote entrepreneurship simultaneously. The Union Government plans to provide Rs 7,000 crore (US$ 1.05 billion) to states to spend on skill development, and thereby accelerate the ambitious task of skilling 500 million Indians by 2022, and encourage creation of an ecosystem of entrepreneurs.
  • Skill Loan Scheme is designed to disburse loans of Rs 5,000 (US$ 75.3) to Rs 150,000 (US$ 2,260) to 3.4 million Indians planning to develop their skills in the next five years.
  • The National Skill Development Mission has created an elaborate skilling eco-system and imparted training to 7.6 million youth since its launch in 2015 and the government now plans to set up 1,500 Multi Skill Training Institutes across the country.

Is Education for all commercially viable? How job related skill development can be made a part of this, at all levels?

The Education for All movement is a global commitment to provide quality basic education for all children, youth and adults. The movement was launched at the World Conference on Education for All in 1990 by UNESCO, UNDP, UNICEF and the World Bank.

Adult learning and education are a valuable instrument which brings social benefits by creating more democratic, peaceful, inclusive, productive, healthy and sustainable societies. Significant financial investment is essential to ensure the high-quality provision of adult learning and education. Nonetheless, government investment in adult learning and education remains very low. The growing trend of decentralisation is not matched by an appropriate allocation of resources at all levels. The funding of adult learning and education is seldom based on an adequate needs assessment, research data or cost budgeting.

“Students should be involved in Institutional Social Responsibility”

Digitization has been a key technology disrupter in various industries. How it is affecting the Education sector?

The Indian education system has a great opportunity to go digital, thereby leapfrogging the progress in education that other countries have done. Over the past 8-9 years, Indian schools and students have demonstrated that their ability to adapt to digital technology is no less than anybody else in the world.

It is a fact that today many private schools in India which use products like Smartclass are way ahead of the technology adoption curve than many other schools in the US, Singapore and even Japan. There is a great opportunity in front of us to take e-education and spread it across the country.

The advantages are quite obvious. With one stroke, we will be able to deal with the critical teacher shortage problem and also the teacher quality problem. We will also be able to make education contextualized, localized, relevant and consistent across the country.

What is the biggest challenge faced by the Education and Skill Development sectors in India? How do you propose the country should address this challenge?

One of the perennial problems in the Indian education has been the huge drop out ratio because students in school do not find education relevant or contextual to their surroundings.

Using high quality digital materials will immediately ensure that every learner in the country will find it a joy to go school and immediately cut down the dropout rate. In the past, many proposals have been made to the government regarding e-education and this could be an opportune time to take up digital class room and digital education across the country.

How do we inculcate environmental and social sustainability aspects in the education of students?

Students should be involved in Institutional Social Responsibility. A few hours of volunteer work should be made mandatory to graduate, and I feel that service-learning hours really help. It will improve students’ awareness of the community, environmental concerns, etc. Through this, a teen might realize that the type of work they’re doing is something they want to pursue as a career.

What is your ultimate goal when it comes to your work? What do you want your institution/ self to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered as A determined, committed, fiercely independent soul dedicated to building and enriching lives.

What advice would you give to students and job seekers today?

Take every opportunity that comes your way. Career planning should be taken up seriously. Values and goal orientation are the key to a successful professional life.

“SKILL DEVELOPMENT is the game changer for next generation students”