“Sixty five percent of the country’s population will be below 29 years by 2020 and unless sufficiently skilled to get jobs, they will be a liability. Given the sluggish growth of the manufacturing sector, a huge challenge is before us,” said Prof. S S Mantha, former Chairman of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

He said agriculture and mining, which are primary sectors for job creation, had the potential to meet 15 per cent of the requirement. The tertiary or service sector had the potential to meet 64 per cent of the job requirement. “The scenario was leading to a serious problem of under employment as even technically skilled personnel were preferring to join the service sector,” stated Mantha.

He was addressing a two day seminar on “Envisioning Skilling, Entrepreneurship and employability in Hospitality Sector” organised by SOA (Deemed to be University) and Tourism and hospitality Skill Council here on Friday. Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Mr. Prafulla Samal who inaugurated the national seminar highlighted the steps taken by Odisha government for upgradation of skill of the workforce with emphasis on weaker sections.

Samal said technical education in Odisha had spread fast during the last 20 years. 45,000 students graduate from engineering colleges every year and many of them do not get employment, he said. Self-Help Groups (SHG) in Odisha, he said, had gone a long way in empowering rural women.

Prof. S.S.Mantha, former Chairman of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Mr. N.K.Sundaray, Joint Secretary in the Union ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Prof. Sandeep Kulshreshtha, Director, Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM), Gwalior were among those who addressed the inaugural session.

Prof. Amit Banerjee, Vice- Chancellor of SOA, Prof. B.B.Pradhan, Registrar of SOA and Prof. Sitikantha Mishra, Advisor and Dean of SOA’s faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management, also spoke. Mr. Sundaray said a vibrant sector like hospitality and tourism had great variety and potential for employment generation but required skilled manpower.

“Promotion of skilled manpower is a great need as it provided enormous advantage to the nation, but if we fail then it will be a big liability,” he said. Dr. Kulshreshtha said the government was keen to upgrade the skill of people engaged in various jobs including priests in religious shrines so that they would know how to deal with people.

“At present 650 priests are being trained across 12 religious shrines,” he said. Similar training, Dr. Kulshreshtha said, were being imparted to boatmen in the Chilka lake in Odisha who cater to the need of tourists. The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Banerjee said acquisition of knowledge and skill alone were insufficient unless complemented through zealous entrepreneurship, innovation, holistic development and a deep understanding of the economic and social needs of a community.