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kerala looks ahead

An impressive assemblage of policymakers, industry stalwarts and domain experts from across the world at an upcoming global conference here will deliberate on the enormous potential of Kerala to emerge as India’s skilled labour hub, especially in the post-pandemic scenario, and suggest an actionable roadmap that would accelerate the process of skill development in the state.

The three-day ‘Kerala Looks Ahead’ (KLA) conference from February 1, 2021, being organised by the Kerala State Planning Board, would highlight the vital role of skill training and upgradation in promoting economic growth, particularly in the context of new-age technologies making phenomenal inroads in the conduct of businesses.

Kerala’s skilled professional workers have been the preferred choice of employers both in India and outside, and this needs to be effectively leveraged, keeping in view global manufacturing becoming more automated and knowledge-intensive, said Planning Board Vice Chairperson Dr VK Ramachandran. “Kerala’s strength with respect to school and higher education makes it better equipped than most other states to deal with the new challenge,” he said.

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Backed by a huge pool of educated and skilled workers and a long history of entrepreneurship, the state’s Industrial and Information Technology policies envisage rapid increase in investment in different sectors.

“This calls for the highest levels of skill development and training to be made available to the youth of Kerala with an emphasis on technical and vocational education, which will ensure their participation in the process of structural transformation of the state’s economy,” Mr. Ramachandran observed.
In view of the rapidly changing nature of work triggered by the sophisticated information and communications technology, Kerala has already made a start in Robotics, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and 3D printing.

Dr. Venu V, Member Secretary, Planning Board, said the COVID-19 pandemic and the evolving situation have caused disruptions in some sectors, but new opportunities and requirements emerging in significant areas are also evident.

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“It is imperative to provide the most modern skill training and development to prepare Kerala’s youth for opportunities in skilled employment in these sectors. Certain sectors such as IT-enabled services, transport, banking and insurance, construction, healthcare and medical equipment, food processing, tourism and hospitality have significant employment possibilities in the state,” he said, adding that continuous re-skilling programmes are also required.

Nobel laureate economist Prof Joseph Stiglitz and Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist with World Health Organisation (WHO,) will address the meet on the inaugural day on February 1.

Skill development session on February 2 will deliberate on the state’s role in developing an integrated skill development policy framework and systems. It will also delve into labour market information systems and technical and vocational education.

Prominent speakers at the session on Skill development include : Prof Ju-Ho Lee, Former Minister of Science, Technology and Education, Republic of Korea, Mr Peter Rechmann (Federal Institute of Vocational Education and Training, Bonn), Ms Sukti Dasgupta, Mr Gabriel H Bordado and Mr Srinivas Reddy (all from the International Labour Organisation), Mr Atul Kumar Tiwari (Additional Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship , Government of India), Prof Santosh Mehrotra (Jawahar Lal University) and Prof Jeemol Unni (Ahmedabad University).

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Experts point out that skill training programmes can also be used as instruments of social change, gender justice and empowerment. One such instance is specialised training in emerging areas for women and young men and women from the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes.
Besides skill development, the conference will have eight other sectoral sessions covering agriculture, modern industrial possibilities; higher education (including international academic collaboration); tourism; IT; e-governance; local governments; and federalism and development financing.