Education Minister P.K. Abdu Rabb on Monday inaugurated the State-level Additional Skill Development Programme (ASAP) aimed at improving the overall employability of students, including those who finish their Plus Two and graduation.

Mr. Rabb said though the number of candidates listing their names at the employment register was very high, their employability was very low. “The ASAP has been conceived as an effective remedy for this situation,” he said.

The students will be given skill training in addition to their regular academic programme/ curriculum in the crucial sectors based on the demands of the industry and the emerging job market. The ASAP, launched by the Higher Education Department in collaboration with other departments, envisages to have 1,000 student trainers by the end of July.

Titled ‘Thousand Splendid Stars,’ the team of student trainers will be picked out from a list of 5,000 students selected from 190 government and aided colleges across the State. They will be divided into groups and given training in communicative English and information technology and soft skills at 21-day training camps to be held in different parts of the State.

“From them, 1000 students will be selected as skill development executives through a final evaluation,” said the Minister.

The training sessions will be held before and after school/college timings as well as during holidays/vacations. Thus when they complete their regular academic programmes they will also get additional skill certificates. This will ensure them job opportunities immediately on completion of each stage of their academic programme.

Since the entire exercise is for enhancing employability, the identification of sectors for skill development and the development of curriculum and training methodologies will also be carried out in consultation with the industry.

At each selected institution, the programme will be coordinated by specially trained programme managers appointed by the ASAP secretariat that functions under the General and Higher Education Departments. The students will be trained by professional and well trained skill development executives. The training programmes shall have an initial round of soft skill development (communicative English and IT) followed by intensive training in the selected skill domains.

Hospitality, organised retail, healthcare, IT & ITES, event management, business services, media and entertainment industry, banking and finance sector, construction and agriculture are the sectors identified for skill development.

“We have already started the initial training in different parts of the State,” said a resource person of the ASAP at Providence Women’s College here, where the inaugural ceremony was organised.

Panchayat and Social Welfare Minister M.K. Muneer, who was the chief guest, said Kerala would become a premier human resources hub if the project was successfully implemented. Director of Collegiate Education K. Ajayakumar and District Collector in-charge K.P. Ramadevi spoke.

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