India is projected to have the largest young workforce in the world by 2025 but is failing to cash in on this rich demographic dividend. According to a draft report from National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), India presently has its highest unemployment rate in the last 45 years.
The manufacturing sector needs to be strengthened to combat this crisis. According to government reports, only 4.69% of India’s workforce is formally skilled. An adequate availability of skilled workers is needed for the success of government initiatives such as ‘Make in India’. India needs to upskill its workforce in a big way. According to estimates, if upskilling is ensured, India will be well-poised to add 104.62 million fresh workers by 2022.
The Modi government had identified this issue and accordingly launched the ‘Skill India’ programme on July 15, 2015, which was formally named Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 1 (PMKVY 1). The programme aimed to skill 402 million people by 2022. Later, the government launched the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 2 (PMKVY 2) in July 2016. The skill based education schemes are monitored through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). Apart from PMKVY, NSDC has also launched initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKK) and Udaan. However, the success of these programmes has been limited.
In February 2019, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) collaborated to launch the ‘Apprenticeship Programme’ through National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) for the existing graduate students from more than 40,000 colleges.
Need of skilling
The ‘Skill India’ schemes cover vocational trainings in milling, turning, Computerised Numerical Control (CNC) milling, CNC turning, advanced welding, additive technology, mechatronics, electronics, metal cutting, marine engine fitting, automobile technology, graphic designing, plastic die engineering, hairdressing, beauty therapy and jewellery making. The MSDE in its Annual Report 2016-2017, estimated that more than 126.87 million new people in 34 different sectors would need skills trainings by 2022.
The last five year’s assessment of the ‘Skill India’ programme has not been too positive. It has - so far - failed in generating significant employment. According to experts, the focus of PMKVY (1 and 2) has largely been on short-term skill courses which have resulted in low placement rates.
According to available data, PMKVY 1 could offer placements to only 18% of the total 18,00,000 trained youths and PMKVY 2 only offered 12% placements of the total 600,000 enrolled youth September 1, 2017.
The Sharada Prasad Committee, which was set up by the MSDE to review the performance of various skill councils claimed that the targets allocated by the government were very high and that it had no proper understanding of the sectoral demands pertaining to generation of new employment. Additionally, the programme failed to reach out to its target base. Almost 40% of the total enrolled trainees in the skill development centres in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan were actually ghost entries. Absence of a nationwide standard of vocational education and availability of the required number of training centres, lack of integrated on-site training, insufficient industry involvement, lack of financing in vocational education and training system, low training capacity and shortage of qualified trainers can be identified as the other important factors contributing to the present skilling crisis.
A large number of the country’s workforce is contributing to the unorganised sector. The unorganised sector contributes to about 60% of the country’s GDP. Strengthening skill education with a holistic approach of various sectors involved can improve productivity, working conditions, social security and living standards. The unorganised sector needs to be factored in.
On International Women’s Day (March 8) this year in order to boost empowerment of women through the ‘Skill India Mission’, NSDC signed an MoU with the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) under the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) to create a pool of educated and skilled women workers. The training modules will be affiliated with the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF). Workshops will be planned to promote entrepreneurship among young women while enriching them educationally.