By Dr Shubnum Singh

Current narrative on a continual challenge of health workforce deficits and imbalances,  at all levels of socioeconomic development, combined with ageing populations and epidemiologic transformations, requires a robust platform to showcase and  recognize meaningful initiatives which have a positive impact on the issues at hand . The India Skills and World skills competition gives an opportunity to do just this.

It is imperative that healthcare work force be agile in responding to alternative scenarios and importantly in communities which are seeing a rapid and incremental change in their economic and demographic profiles. This will influence and change the character of training and deployment  of healthcare resource workers  and  see millions of potential new entrants and jobs into the active workforce. There is a unique and  unprecedented opportunity  in Ayushman Bharat to re design and implement  strategies that address the equity ,coverage gaps and the potential to be a driver for socioeconomic development at large and we from the Healthcare Sector Skills Council (HSSC) are eager to leverage for the larger good.

Skill India, over the last few years have adopted a multi-pronged approach in Healthcare targeting unemployed youth, school children, recognition of prior learning, college youth etc. Industry has participated enthusiastically in these activities, but we have a long way to go in order to develop a robust system and acceptance of the skilled individuals in the mainstream and established systems of care. Not only the industry but general public also needs to accept the importance of skill development in building careers.

A common thread in the ever burgeoning cost of health care is the cost of manpower. However if we were to look at it from the perspective of not seeing health workers as an expense  to contain, but from a lens of an investment for better health outcomes and job creation the world  perhaps would be in a better place . A contextualized skills mix accompanied by adequate recognition and reward systems by way of career progression will result in improved retention an enhanced quality and performance of health workers. Encouraging an  inter sectoral movement of skilled manpower will further add to the success of the initiative as many a time ability to exit from “A” particular course and transfer credits to another are not possible  . Case in example would be an IT professional who transcends all sectors and are embedded in the “big picture” trends of AI, VR and Big Data.

The India Skills competition is a unique platform which helps raise the profile and recognition of skilled people. Competing  in various skills starting from local state level to zonal level to National level and finally at the World skills competition and pitted against the best encourages students as well as training providers to strive for highest level of performance in their individual areas. The Healthcare sector is participating in this event for the first time this year and we hope to be able to make a mark at the International arena much like our Doctors and Nurses have. The competition will help give necessary visibility and insight into the complex world of healthcare delivery as well as raise the acceptability levels of people who are not Doctors and Nurses yet, are vital parts of the delivery ecosystem. Hopefully this will boost a much needed interest in this space. 

* Dr Shubnum Singh, Chairperson, HSSC & Director-Medical Education & Research, Max Healthcare Institute Ltd.