NAZIMA MIR |DHAAR MEHAK M
Skills are the alchemists of the modern world, the mystical keys to unlocking the treasures of economic growth and social development. They empower individuals to wield their knowledge with grace and precision, transforming mere information into action. In a world that dances on the edge of constant change, skills are the performers who steal the show, captivating audiences with their adaptability and prowess.
Imagine a world where countries with superior skills emerge as agile chameleons, effortlessly adapting to the ever-shifting landscape of the global workforce. In this world, skill development isn't just a notion; it's a living, breathing entity fuelled by a robust national system and the unwavering commitment of quality-assured industries. This world isn't a distant dream; it's the reality we aspire to create.
We find ourselves in an era where education takes centre stage, a beacon of hope illuminating the path for the next generation. An effective elementary education system becomes the cornerstone, chiselling young minds to possess the essential academic, cognitive, and social skills. These skills, like seeds sown in fertile soil, sprout into the towering trees of future success.
Skills aren't solitary warriors; they complement other elements such as innovation and enterprise, conjuring the elixir of productivity. For businesses, the journey into the future is paved with uncertainty, but a skilled workforce becomes their guiding star. It is the synergy between people's skills, knowledge, abilities, and creativity that sparks the flames of productivity and fuels the furnace of economic prosperity.
In the grand orchestra of economic development, human resources are the maestros, the conductors who orchestrate the symphony of progress. This vast ensemble of humanity, referred to as the "human resource," transforms other resources into productive forces. Human capital, the investment in personal skills and abilities, ignites the engine of individual welfare and propels the chariot of economic productivity forward. Education, training, and healthcare serve as the potent spells that fortify this investment.
Amartya Sen, the luminary of economics, philosophy, and moral contemplation has given special attention to the importance and significance of skills in the modern-day world context. He unfurls a tapestry where human freedom unfolds as the primary goal of development. By presenting individuals with multitude of choices, development becomes the alchemist's brew that amplifies human potential, offering riches beyond measure.
Now, let's journey to Jammu and Kashmir, a Union Territory nestled in India's northern embrace. It's a global tourist magnet, where over 54% of the population is under the age of 25, making it one of India's youthful gems. Yet, a startling statistic casts a shadow: a mere 2% of the workforce is properly skilled, a dismal figure in comparison to its peers. In the grand economic theatre, this disparity raises the curtain on a sombre tale.
A robust private sector is the pillar upon which many states lean, but Jammu and Kashmir lacks this vital support. The youth, like explorers navigating uncharted waters, are drawn towards the coveted government positions, a perpetual cycle that exacerbates the burgeoning unemployment crisis.
Despite promises of external investment flowing into the region, the river remains dry. It's a tale of supply and demand in tumultuous balance. The government struggles to produce enough job opportunities, while professionals entering the workforce lack the requisite skills. It's a dance of discord that leads to soaring unemployment rates and plummeting employability.
In the backdrop of this economic turmoil, an aging population in other states stands as an ominous cloud on the horizon. This demographic shift threatens to further tip the balance, potentially plunging the market into deeper disarray.
The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) paints a grim picture, revealing a staggering 25% unemployment rate in Jammu and Kashmir, dwarfing the national average of 7.6% across India. The government, hopeful of attracting over Rs 20,000 crore in investment through the industrial development scheme, has taken steps to ameliorate job creation, but the skill development conundrum persists, an intricate puzzle at both micro and macro levels.
In our formative years, we ingest theoretical knowledge, but the art of wielding that knowledge into skills remains a neglected facet. In Jammu and Kashmir, the literacy rate stands at 77.3%, a commendable figure. However, a deeper look reveals a gender disparity, with male literacy at 85.7%, significantly outstripping female literacy at 68%, lagging behind the national average of 70.3%.
Jammu and Kashmir, like a phoenix, is rising from its ashes. The Government of India's approval of the New Industrial Development Scheme, with a budget of Rs. 28,400 Crore, promises to breathe life into the industrial and service sectors, catalysing economic growth. However, the UT remains resistant to change, clinging to the familiar even as the world evolves around it.
The majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir rely on the government for sustenance, a dependence that perpetuates problems. Any endeavour aimed at revitalizing the economy becomes a subject of intense scrutiny, like the Kashmir film city project and the smart city initiative, which, though promising, faced mismanagement. The mantra "something is better than nothing" may resonate, but in Jammu and Kashmir, it often translates to inaction over action.
The goal of skill development is a clarion call, a challenge to alter perspectives and shatter the chains of dependency. Opportunities aren't gifts bestowed; they are created by the bold and visionary. In a world where change is the only constant, Jammu and Kashmir must seize the reins of transformation. Instead of waiting, it's time to forge their destiny, sculpting a brighter future with their own skilled hands. The wand thus lies in the hand of policy makers who need to exercise the Mantras and put in place the system of skill formation, creation and the eventual utilization.
(The authors are affiliated with the Department of Economics, Islamic University of Science and Technology, can be reached at email@example.com )