To solve the challenge of health workforce deficit and imbalances at all levels of socio-economic development, combined with an ageing population and epidemiologic transformations, we need meaningful initiatives that have a positive impact on the issues at hand. The India Skills and World Skills competitions provide an opportunity to do just this.
It is imperative that healthcare workforce be agile in responding to alternative scenarios and, importantly, in communities that are seeing rapid changes in their economic and demographic profiles. This will influence training and deployment of healthcare resource workers and see millions of potential new entrants into the active workforce. There is also an opportunity in Ayushman Bharat to implement strategies that address the equity and coverage gaps, and we, at the Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC), are eager to leverage the same for the larger good.
Skill India has adopted a multi-pronged approach towards healthcare; targeting unemployed youth, schoolchildren, Recognition of Prior Learning, college youth, etc. Yet we have a long way to go towards developing a robust system and acceptance of skilled individuals in the established systems of care.
A common thread in ever-burgeoning cost of healthcare is the cost of manpower. But if we were to look at it as an investment for better health outcomes and job creation, and not from the perspective of seeing health workers as an expense, the world would be a better place. A skills mix accompanied by adequate recognition and reward systems by way of career progression will result in improved retention and 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, an exit from a particular course and transferring credits to another is not possible.
India Skills is a platform that helped raise the profile and recognition of skilled people. Competing in various skills starting from local and state level to zonal and national level and finally at World Skills encourages students as well as training providers to strive for the highest level of performance. The healthcare sector is participating in World Skills for the first time and we hope to make a mark in the global arena, much like our doctors and nurses have. The competition will provide 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. This will lead to a much needed interest in this space.
Shubnum Singh is chairperson, Healthcare Sector Skill Council, and director, Medical Education & Research, Max Healthcare Institute Ltd