Taking in account the historical backdrop of Kerala, our state has been a prominent supplier of skilled human resources to the rest of the world. The number of people who flew out of the country to work on foreign lands escalated to the highest 28 lakhs in the past 2.5 years. An analysis among different sections of the younger population showed that it is the highest among those who have qualified higher secondary, followed by graduates, post graduates and other technically qualified but the employability rate is below standard average. Even after claiming the title of the major human resource supplier, the employability rate of our state is considered to be below 25%.
Anuradha Subramanian, MD of Careerfit360, an entrepreneurial venture that imparts soft skills and career guidance, says, “Hard skills can be imparted in educational institutions, whereas soft skills can be taught only to an extent. These are not something you could just read and learn; these skills get built through experiential learning sessions.” The primary obstacle in ensuring a readily employable generation is the lack of sufficient training infrastructure in the state. To mitigate this problem, the Department of Higher Education, General Education, Labor and local Self Government came up with a preventive and curative approach by implementing the “Additional Skill Acquisition Programme” and “Additional Skill Enhancement Programme.” These programmes provide additional skill sets to students along with their regular courses and also enhance skills to improve employability among the unemployed population.
ASAP courses can be taken up during the college years and can be completed along with regular courses without disturbing the traditional routine. “Kerala’s future-forward upskilling ecosystem,” as the state government addresses, ASAP provides around 150+ courses in 16+ advanced sectors all over Kerala divided into distinct units. It undertakes training programmes through 16 community skill parks and 126 skill development centers instituted across the state.
Why should one opt for ASAP?
- There is a cluster of skill centers across the state which provides industry driven skill development centers with public-private partnerships.
- Industry experts as trainers or industry trained trainers
- Communicative English course, IT modules and soft skills training
- Learner-centered training
- Incentive linked fee structure, bank loans for financially deprived students
- Minimum 55% of the entire syllabus is devoted to practical learning rather than theory
- Moodle based lifelong learning system (Moodle is a learning platform designed to provide learners a personalized learning environment)
- Placement assistance
Unlike the conventional education system, ASAP ensures job-oriented skill training. The methodology that they use in their training programmes include brainstorming, panel discussion, group exercises, GD and work presentations which take place on a daily basis in a workplace environment.
Jaison Johnny, a researcher from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia has published his findings on “The Role of ASAP Kerala Project in Skill Development Through Technology Enhanced Learning.” Mr. Johnny substantiates his research by collecting the perceptions of 600 respondents towards the ASAP Kerala programme and its impacts on skill enhancement. 90% of the respondents have commented that skill-oriented training from ASAP is better than the conventional way of teaching and 95% of them said that the inculcation of technology-based learning by ASAP is more effective than conventional learning.
Almost all respondents agree to the fact that there is a gap in the skill sector in getting employed and the highest number of trainees have regarded the development of employability skills as the main aspect of ASAP. The table below shows the preferences of skills that the students acquired and enhanced through ASAP training in Mr. Johnny’s research.
|Skill Development||No. of respondents|
(Table 1: based on Mr. Johnny’s research) Perhaps, one of the striking impacts of the pandemic has been the unprecedented number of laid-off employees and high unemployment rates. In a time when even major industries have come to a standstill in terms of hiring new talent, it is crucial to invest in a workforce that is adaptable to sudden and increasing market changes.