.......... through vocational training
Employment generation is a major concern and one of the most important policy objectives of governments across the world. The concern becomes more serious in developing economies because of disproportionately higher youth populations- a phenomenon globally known as youth bulge.
More youth simply means more individuals on a lookout for jobs. As per the Directorate of Employment & Training, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India, more than 1.2 crore youth join the workforce every year in India. This number tends to increase significantly with every passing year. Jammu and Kashmir is no exception. So irrespectively, the biggest challenge is to create jobs. In such a scenario, it would be unreasonable to expect governments to be the sole job providers. Instead, governments have to primarily and proactively assume the responsibility of creating an enabling environment for youth employment – an environment that facilitates youth start-ups. These business start-ups, in turn, act as job engines for more youth; thereby triggering a perpetual virtuous cycle of entrepreneurship development and youth employment.
Two major approaches can be adopted towards training the aspiring entrepreneurs – the generic and the vocational. The scope of generic approach of entrepreneurship training includes creativity, innovations, risk taking and an ability to plan and manage business start-ups. This is often supplemented by a lean session of business – or sector-specific technical training and inputs by a domain expert. The vocational approach aims at developing the required competencies by offering technical and vocational trainings.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) in one of its reports ‘Skills for improved productivity, employment growth and development (2008)’ urged the member nations to create specific programme to engage the youth in vocational areas of automobile mechanic, metal work, electrical, electronics, carpentry, tailoring among others. Such intervention, the ILO opined, was the solution to the ever-widening challenges of joblessness worldwide. Although, currently technical and vocational training programmes are predominantly aimed at placing youth in wage employments, they have more in common with self-employment.
Firstly, vocational training programmes often already utilise enterprises of all sizes to assist in training students particularly through apprenticeship and industry exposure programmes. This real-life experience helps to expose them to entrepreneurship and see it as a viable employment alternative.
Second, some of the occupations for which vocational training is provided lend themselves particularly to self-employment.
Third, many vocational programmes and associated activities already encourage some of the key entrepreneurship skills, such as creativity, innovations, risk taking, working in teams and problem-solving.
As far as our state is concerned, the vocational approach of entrepreneurship training can be seen in practice at Block Employment Resource Centre for Youth (BERCY) – a gram panchayat-based community-driven learning pilot project of the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India at Ratnipora, Pulwama. BERCY, implemented by JKEDI, offers vocational training across the trades of machine knitting, computer/laptop hardware repairing, mobile repairing, electrician and plumbing. It also marks the beginning for JKEDI in adopting the vocational approach towards entrepreneurship development. This becomes all the more important for our state in the context of shrinking job opportunities and the need for promoting entrepreneurship that leads youth to sustainable self-employment and financial independence.
(The writer is Project Manager JKEDI and in charge of community driven learning pilot project at Ratnipora in Pulwama)