The need for a skilled workforce and its importance to the economic growth of a country has been a key agenda for discussion across several policy forums. Countries with high skill standards are able to cope up in a much better way with the challenges and opportunities presented by the ever changing domestic and international markets, particularly during the current age of COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant systemic social and economic turmoil.

India currently faces a dual challenge of severe shortage of well-trained, skilled workers on one hand and non-employability of graduates, who possess little or no job-oriented skills on the other hand. The India Skills Report, 2019 estimates that less than five per cent of the total Indian workforce is skilled, a statistic that is worrying considering the overall requirement of skilled labour that exists in the country and compared to our peers where the ratio is substantially higher. In order to harness its demographic dividend and overcome its skill shortage, India needs to work towards developing a sustainable skill ecosystem and roadmap wherein the workforce is equipped with employable skills and knowledge to be able to contribute to the economic growth of the country. State governments will play a pivotal role - providing the much-needed policy direction, roadmap creation and guidance to all stakeholders in the skill ecosystem.

The study discusses at length the demography, economy, focus sectors, and the ongoing skilling interventions of the six major states in the East and Northeast, namely Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal, highlighting about some of the key interventions that the individual State Skill Development Missions (SSDMs) may explore in order to further develop the skilling ecosystem within the region.

For the economic growth of the East and the Northeast, skilling and vocational education will be essential. It will be a catalyst for the success of the other initiatives and programmes introduced by individual state governments. For such skilling initiatives to succeed, the government, industry and academia will have to work hand-in-hand and catalyze the skill ecosystem further to achieve the objectives. Providing quality industry-aligned training, moving towards recognising certificates, preference to certified workforce would encourage more and more youth to participate in vocational training. Making skill development aspirational will ultimately lead towards changes in the society's perception on such training as a livelihood option, thereby motivating a larger number of youths to take up a skill-based career for improved quality of life and recognition.

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