Monday 9 September 2013

6th FICCI Global Skills Summit - Delhi 2013: Observations, Opinions and Comments - Part I

I am, as part of this series, going to write about key highlights of the 6th FICCI (Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) Global Skills Summit concluded in Delhi on 6th September 2013. I hoping to share my own views and reflections, in relation to the ideas shared and presented as part of this summit. 

I have been associated with the Vocational Education and Skills Development space for over a decade and have seen this space evolve in the Indian context across its various dimensions. Over the years I have been involved in various aspects of it as a student, practitioner, consultant, etc. I have been part of national and international interventions and organisations from where I have gained understanding and perspectives, working in micro and macro contexts with related aims and objectives. I find such events quite useful from the perspective of not only catching up with happenings and people in the sector, but also as it gives me time and opportunity to reflect in a very focused manner on the subject. I hope you will read this and find matters to reflect upon and hopefully get some insight which will be of use.

Call for setting up 'Centres of Excellence' with international assistance

The theme of the Skills Summit was ‘Industry Leads’ and the featured International Partner was the country of New Zealand. The summit inauguration was presided upon by the Minister of HRD Dr. Pallam Raju and the High Commissioner Jan Henderson. As part of the opening session a suggestion by the CEO and MD, Larsen & Toubro Ltd. Mr. K. Venkataraman was to set up  Centres of Excellence with the help of international partners. Mr. Venkataraman who paid homage to the founders of L&T and the global standards which were laid within the foundations of the company, was clearly convinced with the need to bring learning and skills development to the centre stage of institutional endeavours.  The request for Internationally collaborated Centres of Excellence for me while was a gesture in the spirit of openness and partnership which acknowledges the progress made in the developed world, it is also a resigned view of the lack of ability of citizens, organisations and government of this country to create something benchmarked of global excellence. If it is indeed true then it is sad that despite the accelerated development and multi-national companies within this country we still cannot find a way to create and sustain Centres of Excellence that can be benchmarked to international standards. The reality of the matter is that despite having depth of talent, the passion and capability to deliver excellence we are unable to provide opportunities and conditions conducive to the manifestation of it.

Industry Leadership Buy-In

The CEO4Skills forum, an initiative to help prioritise skills development within the leadership of organisations. One of the key reasons why the representation of CEOs even in this forum seemed scarce, was the reason stated by Commodore. Jena, CEO telecom Sector Skills Council. He said, CEOs care for profits and the myriad seemingly more important tasks related to business issues which keep them busy. Thereby relegating the skills development agenda to much lower down in the list of priorities. Infact there was a question asked of whether entrepreneurs who set-up businesses and are at the helm of those in positions of so called leadership, are they truly leaders?  Yes, they manage products, processes and pursue their own visions, but true leadership remains by definition a concept that relies on impacting and leading other fellow humans. The perspective and capabilities of organisation heads needs to be expanded to bring this elemental view of leadership to the centre of their work practice and related beliefs.

Dinesh Deo, CEO BNY (Bank of New York) Mellon though highlighted the fact that their phenomenal growth in India which now finds them employing 4500 workers has been in large measure possible due to their focus on skills and talent development In-house. Especially given their niche requirements and business model. Ashish Kulkarni, CEO Reliance BIG Animation Pvt. Ltd and Ajay Shankar, Member Secretary, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council both in their own ways acknowledged the fact that the Skills and Talent inherent in our country has been in large measure lost due to lack of respect and understanding of its importance. In some ways we are coming back a full circle and suffering as a result of not providing people the dignity of labour. The example of computer animation as a skill eventually finding take-up and success when it landed at the doors of the next generation of artisans, rather than in Engineering Colleges where the programmes were first instituted, was very relevant with a view to pointing out how we failed to take skills development up its logical natural progression and undermined the legacy that was the critical foundation for progress in this area.

Part II to follow

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