French Role in Skill Development

Exploring New Collaborations

Skill Development

March 8, 2018

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As India faces a shortage in skilled personnel, collaborating with both public and private players from France can provide a way to address this gap in some sectors, with a few tie ups already beginning to take shape.

Among the ‘youngest’ countries in the world in terms of demographics, India anticipates an increase in citizens aged between 15 and 59 in the coming decade. However, the country faces a severe scarcity when it comes to skilled workers. Data from the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) estimates that only 2.3 pc of the workforce has undertaken any form of training in formal skills.

Even the educated workforce faces challenges as they lack skills that make them employable. As India gets on the path to face this mammoth task of skilling, it has begun to collaborate with both governmental and private actors from around the world to address the gap in skilled workforce and the required skill force.

Though MSDE was set up in India in 2014 to coordinate efforts around India that are aimed at implementing skill development, much remains to be done. The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), which has been crucial in implementing and introducing new initiatives, has also sought to address an important challenge to skill development, namely the vast scope and diverse stakeholders.

Skilling requires a crosssectional approach by government departments, trainers in private capacities, educational and training institutions as well as employers. Besides the basic need to skill its citizens, India is, as per Skill India’s mission statement, looking to, “Establish and enforce cross-sectoral, nationally and internationally acceptable standards for skill training in the country by creating a sound quality assurance framework for skilling, applicable to all ministries, states and private training providers.”

Thus, India has been looking outside to gain insight and a footing in their attempt to skill the majority of its population. Among some of these countries is France, with whom India has undertaken a few partnerships on the public and private sector. As the presence of French companies grows in India, France can certainly play a role in skilling India through initiatives of these companies themselves as well as Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) that impact on a larger scale.

France Shaping Skills in India

In France, the Ministry for National Education is responsible for initial vocational education at secondary level of skills training. Regional governments and several professional bodies are also involved in the task. The National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) of India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Commission Nationale de la Certification Professionnelle (CNCP), France. This was undertaken in January 2015 for knowledge sharing, exchange of information and to build, develop and implement a qualification register in France and India.

Information from the French consulate reveals that this MoU has particularly been undertaken for: “Exchange of information regarding the maintenance of National Skills Qualification Framework and the French National Register for Vocational Certifications (RNCP).” It is set to be carried out through the practice of information exchanges, visits and other appropriate meetings.

Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India, shared France’s potential importance for India, at the signing of an MoU between India and France, the Fondation de France, Schneider Electric India Foundation and the Power Sector Skill Council for establishing and supporting training centres. He shared how France, as an established industrial country that is home to a world-renowned skilled workforce can bring advice and know-how to India. He added, “France has been a long lasting key player in India’s industrial and technological development, as the third largest investor in India with an average investment of around EUR 1 billion per year for the last four years and a cumulative stock of over EUR 20 billion.”

As both a policy and practice, France sees private sector employers organising skill development initiatives and trainings for both current and potential employees. In line with this practice, French companies who have a marked presence in India are also involved in similar training programmes to provide skills. Ziegler, highlighting the companies by name, thus stated that they were in line of support with the Skill India programme. “Accor, Air Liquide, Capgemini, Danone, Engie, L’Oréal, Michelin, Renault, Safran, are already training thousands of Indians, providing technical skills generally required by Indian industries,” stated Ziegler.

He added, “Apart from this numerous private initiatives, and several institutional partnerships have been set up in recent years that are continuously contributing to the development of key skills. In the field of aerospace for example, the French School of Civil Aviation (ENAC) was chosen by its Indian counterpart to create (along with its Indian partner) a training course at Hyderabad, for around 50 Indian engineers and air traffic controllers every year.”

Ongoing Collaboration

As an example of a strong partnership that has begun to take shape more concretely since last year, one can look at the centre of excellence and training centres established and underway by NSDC and Schneider Electric India. Focussing on solar power, the centre of excellence was set up around June 2017 in Bengaluru in south India, while seven advanced renewable energy training centres in the cities of Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Delhi, Cuttack, Vishakhapatnam and Jaipur were also set up. The partnership aims at establishing another centre of excellence in the National Capital Region (NCR) of India and 100 laboratories across the country in ‘Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras’ (PMKK), which are centres providing skill development programmes in collaboration with private players.

Most programmes are aimed towards youth with a background of basic electrical training, those who have obtained a diploma from an Industrial Training Institute or those who have dropped out of college. These include month-long training programmes that through skilling, seeks to give a push to the growth of renewable energy sector in India while also increasing employment opportunities. Manish Kumar, managing director and chief executive officer, NSDC had said, during the inauguration of a centre for excellence, “Skill India recognises the importance of training in the renewable energy sector, which is a sector with immense potential. Through this partnership, we would like to address demand mismatch with the best technical inputs from a global company like Schneider. In a small way, we also wish to contribute to both our nations’ commitment to reduce carbon emission by promoting the use of renewable energy.”

These centres, a result of an MoU signed earlier in 2016, have seen an active engagement on both sides. During the announcement of the MoU, Jean Pascal Tricoire, chairman and chief executive officer, Schneider Electric, stated, “We are proud to partner with the Government of India to contribute to the skill equity of the country. We have already trained 52,000 underprivileged youth as electricians through 260 training centres across the country and through this MoU we aim to further accelerate the initiative. Skill development is a key requirement of a robust economy to improve productivity and output through nurturing talent.”

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