Continuous skilling the only way to stay relevant during coronavirus: PM Modi on World Youth Skill Day

On World Youth Skill Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi underscored the achievements of Skill India programme and the importance of acquiring new skills as a way to become employable.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday emphasised the importance of skilling, upskilling, and re-skilling during the coronavirus crisis to stay relevant, especially in a world that is rapidly changing as it adapts to a ‘new normal’.

“The biggest strength the youth of today have is their skills, and their ability to acquire new skills,” PM Modi, addressing a virtual event on the occasion of the World Youth Skill Day, said.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed not just the work culture across the world, but also the nature of jobs available today, he added, and the only way to keep progressing is by updating existing learnings.

The government’s Skill India programme, which completes five years today, has empowered more than five crore Indians with skill sets that have helped them get employment across various sectors, PM Modi said. To further help skilled but unemployed workers find jobs, the government has envisioned a portal which maps ready-to-work skilled personnel, especially those who recently migrated back home during the lockdown, and helps employers get in touch with them.

He observed that the Skill India Mission has led to hundreds of PM Kaushal Kendras being set up across the country and has led to an increase in the capacity of the ITI ecosystem.

The healthcare sector, in particular, needs a lot of skilled labour right now during the pandemic, PM Modi said, adding that acquiring new skills right now is imperative for one to have job prospects.

Some of the migrant workers have already been employed by local government agencies to start reviving villages by painting schools and designing new houses, among other things.

However, earning bread and butter is not the only advantage of skilling or upskilling; skill is a driving force that gives people the zest to live and stay inspired.

“Skill is something that we give to ourselves with experience. Skill is timeless - it keeps getting better with time. Skill is unique - it makes you different from others. Skill is a treasure that nobody can take away, And skill is self-reliance - it not only makes one employable but also self-employable,” PM Modi said.

Learning new skills or upskilling not only helps people become employable, but also self-employable, PM Modi added, reinforcing his vision for India to become ‘aatmanirbhar’.

“The mark of a successful person is that s/he not only keeps acquiring new skills but also actively looks for opportunities to do so,” he said.

PM Modi's policy-backed skilling programme came in the backdrop of the proportion of formally skilled workers in India being at around 5 percent of the total workforce, compared to the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and South Korea — where it is above 50 percent.

A 2019 India Skill Report said that only 45.6 percent of fresh graduates in recent times are employment-worthy — a gap that needs to be urgently addressed in order bring down the unemployment rate in India, as well as raise the standards of living across the country.

Edited by Kanishk Singh