COVID-19 Triggers a Shift in Skills Training Models: Report


National: A new research report released by Sattva Consulting and NASSCOM Foundation, supported by J.P. Morgan, provides key insights into the efficiency and impact of different skill-development models, following large-scale investments into them to reduce the skills gap.

Based on data gathered from 40 skill development and funding organisations, the report identifies factors that can help generate better returns on investments and highlights practices that can positively influence salary and placement in the post-pandemic world.

With India’s growing young population entering the workforce, the Government is investing heavily in work training programmes. Private organisations have also played a crucial role in reducing the skills gap, with 328 companies contributing INR 1653 Crore towards 775 projects through their CSR efforts.

Releasing the report, Srikrishna S Murthy, Co-Founder and CEO, Sattva Consulting said, “Strong push for skill development over the last 15 years has resulted in a fast-evolving skilling ecosystem in India.  The role of data is becoming increasingly critical to help us understand what works, and achieve a better return for candidates. Through this study, we are presenting actionable recommendations to build efficient skills training models looking at Return on Investment (ROI) of programmes across the country. The skills training ecosystem today is pivoting through agile measures to recover, rebuild and reimagine from a COVID-disrupted market. We are committed to work with a wide range of partners and donors in helping them bridge the employability gap.”

Key Determinants of Higher Salary

According to the report, every rupee invested in skills training programmes returned INR 2 to INR 19 (a measure based on a candidate’s salary), with the median being 6.67. It identified integrated training programmes in campuses, offline training programmes, integration of digital skills and effective selection mechanisms as key determinants of higher salaries.

“While the country has made large-scale investments in jobs and skills, there is a lack of in-depth research, evaluation, and skill gap analyses to guide investments. The report will help funding and skills development organisations arrive at data-driven investment decisions and enable us to truly leverage our demographic dividend,” said Madhav Kalyan, CEO,  J.P. Morgan, India.

Graduates who received integrated training programmes while in college fetched 53 per cent higher salaries than those who were trained after graduation, the study revealed and stated that inclusion of digital literacy in sector-specific programmes, such as healthcare and BFSI, fetched 39 per cent higher salaries.

Ashok Pamidi, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation, said, Skill training is absolutely the number one priority for the industry. India enjoys the demographic advantage of being one of the youngest countries. To make our country the skills capital of the world, the way we conduct skills training – the skill training models are as important as the curriculum itself and this much-needed study in partnership with Sattva and supported by J.P.Morgan provides critical know-how on how these models are evolving, what works and what needs to be changed. We hope that this study helps numerous skills training organisations out there to restructure, refine and further sharpen their skills training approach to get the maximum ROI for their students.”

Lockdowns Result in Change in Training Practices

The study highlighted the impact of lockdown on training models and emergent trends. It noted that within six months of lockdown, 88 per cent of skill training organisations had found ways to stay updated with the change in employer needs, candidate aspirations, funding and policy ecosystem.

While 74 per cent pivoted to a blended/online approach with training partners increasing candidate counselling and monitoring, 75 per cent saw an increase in demand for cross-sectoral placements given continued to churn in market demand.

Other key observations are:

  • Almost 90 per cent of skill training organisations faced challenges in terms of quality of internet access at candidates’ end, quality of infrastructure in rural areas, and motivating students to shift to a purely online model. The organisations addressed these challenges by investing in 3G/4G SIM cards for candidates, leveraging alumni networks to keep students motivated, setting up learning management systems to provide training after placement, and developing mechanisms to track out-of-job workforce and explore placement opportunities for them
  • In 65 per cent of organisations surveyed, candidates showed a preference for local jobs that were closer to their homes, indicating a shift in candidate priorities.