Think job layoffs and one thinks it is a global phenomena. But browse through National Skills Network (NSN) portal and one feels the situation is not so bad after all. “The unorganised sector creates 85 percent of jobs in India. The sector which is creating so many jobs is not getting its due,” points out Madhuri Dubey, founder-editor of NSN.
At The Old Madras Baking Company, Gachibowli Madhuri shares the story of NSN, a small network that is taking confident steps towards Skill India.
With a Ph.D in Curriculum Studies from EFLU, Madhuri began her journey two decades ago. “It was at the back of my mind that I never got a chance to use my research and doctorate,” she states and always looked at opportunities which helped her use the knowledge of her research. While she was deep into e-learning and worked in Cordys Software, she also wrote a book titled Effective E-Learning: Design Development and Delivery (Orient Blackswan, 2011). “It was quite an ambitious project because I wrote this book three years ago while working full time. But that was a happy thing to do as it was a book meant for India by an Indian. Otherwise, e-learning is a global thing and I interpreted it for the Indian audience,” she points out.
If the book was an off-shoot of her e-learning, she affirms NSN is an offshoot of the book. “When vocation training was picking up in a big way in India, there was ‘National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). Government of India was planning on how we should address it and I wanted to have a chapter dedicated to this in my book as I knew e-learning will help in this space also. It was sad that the scope of my book did not allow me to add a few more pages.”
She speaks of vocational training and people’s expectations and their conservative mindset. “Since I had a Ph.D, the general view was that I should be a professor. And, when I was in the software industry mainly because of my love for internet, the feeling was, ‘What are you doing in a software company?’ I followed my heart and my career grew from e-learning.”
Share the positive impact
When skill development initiatives were discussed in a big way, she registered a blog with the name National Skills Network. “Since I was already into blogging and writing, I wondered why not blog on skill development and write on different subjects,” she states.
When a ministry was formed under skill development and entrepreneurship, the initiative received a big boost. “NSN was at the right time and place and that helped me in getting the initial heads up.” The blog soon turned into a community platform where everyone contributed. “I took up the role of a facilitator handling interviews and stories. The objective was to share the positive impact because I felt the vocational and skill space needed a lot of push from many areas.”
Madhuri quit her job to devote her time to the portal. “We began sharing it online since last April and I believed that if you have an email id and mobile, you can do wonders in today’s world. I carried on with that belief and slowly built it up,” she enthuses adding it was designed like a news and knowledge portal. “We bring all the stake holders on to one platform. These stake holders are government skill training companies, vocational training companies, academic institutions and the industry. The idea was to bring all of them together on one place so that they know how they are inter-dependant and also know what is happening in this domain,” she explains adding, “This is at a nascent stage in India. It doesn’t need just a push, it also needs to be projected in a certain way.”
The group comprises a team of nine, including two interns. The Network boasts of 116,210 user base and 2.5 lakh views with people across the country visiting their portal.
“One person from the team researches on the net to understand the issues. We create content from the scratch. We don’t plagiarise,” she stresses adding, “The news digest section has snippets. Recently, we have had three articles on GST; one is written by a CFO of a company.”
Madhuri observes one of the biggest challenge is to change mindsets. “When carpenters do well, they earn more than software managers and get into entrepreneurship. How do we tell them about this domain so that they can grow more, say build a brand unto themselves?” she asks, listing creation of awareness and migration as other challenges.