Skill mapping has never been so important. Of course, the concept has been talked about many times, especially since the launch of Skill India Mission in 2015, but it is only today that the real implication of skill mapping has emerged.
How can we forget the heart-wrenching pictures of workers desperately trying to get home, post the lockdown? No amount of assurance from local Governments, NGOs, and even employers could stop these people from taking the journey back to their villages.
And now, when there is better understanding of the situation and the factories are up and running, though with limited capacities, workers who are critical to the operations are being lured back with promise of airfares, free food, and even hikes!
Both situations are undesirable.
Responding to the crisis created by thousands of workers returning to home states, states have seriously started looking at options to curb interstate migration of workers, seeking ways to keep these floating workers in search for jobs within the state.
Most states have announced schemes to attract workers, but Uttar Pradesh was the first state to announce investments in various industries based on data collected by skill mapping initiatives undertaken by the state over the years and also post-workers’ return.
The state is one of the biggest providers of workforce to industries across the country. About 32 lakh workers returned to UP from other states during the lockdown, and so far, skill mapping of 24 lakh workers has already been done.
While most are looking at skill mapping as a tool to provide employment to people based on skill levels, there are many other areas where the data so gathered could be used as a tool for economic growth.
Assuming that a decent number of people are skilled at tailoring, it would make commercial sense to invest in the garment industry. That way companies diligently exploring the possibility of setting up a factory in UP will be assured of getting ready and skilled workforce.
The data will also suggest which type of skill sets will have to be brought to the district, from either other districts within the state or other states, to complete the skill requirement of the factory, hence implying the need for dormitories for a certain number of people. This makes planning so much easier.
Many other inferences can also be drawn, like whether the tailors have been doing kidswear or menswear or maybe specialised products. So, for a company planning to invest, the strategy of what product can be made most effectively in the area becomes crystal clear.
In fact, hubs in the past have also developed in this way, but mostly without planning. Now the State Governments can systematically engage in announcing hubs/zones of excellence based on skill sets.
Another interesting off-shoot of skill mapping is to know how many people need skilling and then investing in skilling or upskilling of such people to suit the industries in the state which has manpower shortage or needs to get workers from other states to do the job!
And don’t forget this process does not end with the workers. Our PM is now talking about mapping the global skills requirements to address the need of skill, reskill and upskill of Indian youth in order to remain relevant in the rapidly changing business environment and market conditions.