THE state government’s plan to open a skill development centre in North Goa and another in South Goa is a positive step toward mitigating, if not solving, the problem of job-skill mismatch. The government provides training in various skills to students in its ten industrial training institutes (ITIs). However, the ITIs do not produce enough number of skilled persons for the industry in the state. Besides, the ITIs have been used to provide training mostly in traditional skills and have not kept up with the trends in development of trade and industry. It is now that the directorate of skill development has decided to revisit the skills imparted in the ITIs and modify them according to the job requirements in the various sectors that have good employment opportunities, such as, tourism, hospitality, logistics, beauty and wellness.
In recent weeks, a debate was generated on job-skill mismatch following media reports of a job fair held in Sawantwadi in which a number of Goan companies participated. The government said it was going to ask the industry to first get a no objection certificate (NOC) from them before they start searching for candidates from outside the state. The presumption obviously was that the employers were not looking enough for candidates in Goa through the employment exchange. The government idea behind the NOC was that the employment exchange would have a list of names to suggest to the employers whom they could interview. However, the industry obviously did not like the idea, pleading that there is no such system in any other state. The debate seemed to be getting nowhere. The industry blamed the employment exchange for rolling out the same names over and over again, as it did not have a system of striking the names of those who got jobs off its live registers. The labour and employment department maintained that the names of those who get government jobs got deleted from the live registers of the employment exchange, because the department informs them; it is the names of those who get jobs in private companies that might still be on the live registers because the companies do not care to inform them. Labour and Employment Minister Rohan Khaunte is expected to have a meeting with the representatives of the industry soon. Let us hope that these problems get sorted out.
The job-skill gap must be reduced to the minimum, for the larger the gap, the clearer the evidence that though the local economy is developing, local population is not getting employment in them. Our school, college and university education is not oriented toward job creation. The institutes of technical education, such as those teaching courses in engineering and pharmacy, and the ITIs do produce graduates and diploma holders who can qualify for jobs in the industry. However, for various reasons, there might not be a hundred per cent hiring rate for local graduates and diploma holders. The first reason could be the candidates not fitting in the employer’s skill requirements. It could also be because the candidates might not find the wages offered by the employer low. Another reason could be job offered on short-term contract basis. There are employers that hire for six months in a work arrangement where they are terminated after that and re-hired for another six months.
The government proposes to take steps to bring together labour market and education stakeholders to craft an integrated system that prevents job-skill mismatch. However, it cannot succeed without the cooperation of the industry. Representatives of the industry should be consulted to ensure the alignment of industry requirements in setting capacity-building policies and targets. The industry must provide a clear picture of the competencies they need for the jobs they want, so that the training and skilling institutions can meet the needs. Then only the training institutions, the industrial training institutes and the skill development centres, can provide training in diversified sets of skills to achieve learning outcomes corresponding to the requirement of skills by the industry. Labour and Employment Minister Rohan Khaunte, who has been talking of taking steps to reduce the job-skill gap by taking the private sector on board, must work toward creating a seamless education and training system across all educational levels – elementary, secondary, tertiary and technical vocational courses – in coordination with the education department. Vacancies are there for qualified job applicants. So all it needs is aligning of our education and training systems with the industry requirements using international benchmarked standards to bridge the job-skills gap. Khaunte must make a job-skill matchmaking roadmap.