October , 2019
Skill development is imperative to encash demographic dividend
14:06 pm

Kuntala Sarkar

As per government data, only 4.69% of India’s workforce is formally skilled. An adequate availability of skilled workers is needed to propel the ‘Make in India’ mission. The ‘Skill India’ mission covering vocational trainings needs to be strengthened to push the population towards employability.

Role of higher education in skill development

Standardised training delivery by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) training partners, training of trainers by Sector Skill Council (SSC), curriculum alignment and capacity building workshops, assessment and certification by SSC, and employability and entrepreneurship opportunities programmes are being initiated by the government.

The NSDC for higher education is working with 21 universities, UGC and AICTE catering to more than 1200 colleges and 400 community colleges across the country. Some of the organisations include Savitribai Phule University of Pune (663 colleges and 57 autonomous institutions), University of Delhi (67 colleges including NCWEB and SOL), University Grants Commission (150 community colleges and 127 colleges for B. Voc. and Degree programmes), Tamil Nadu Open
University (155 learning resource centres and 204 community colleges and AICTE (100 Community Colleges) among others. The NSDC has also funded training partners affiliated to the respective SSCs which are involved in imparting trainings to students under these partnerships.

Role of CSR and the development sector in skill development

The CSR mandate is acting as a win-win opportunity for the private companies as they realised that skilling the work force in various sectors would catalyse their expansions. There are two ways by which CSR funds are being used. Some organisations are independently and directly using these funds. Other organisations are donating funds to NGOs to operate skill development courses.

Tech Mahindra Foundation (TMF) that works through NGOs and independently as well are operational in 12 cities in India and provides free skill development training to students of 18-25 years of age range. Shormi Roy Choudhury, Head (East), Tech Mahindra Foundation, told BE, “We provide trainings on ITES, BPO, communicative English, courses on banking and finance, graphic designing, digital marketing and SEO writing among others. Our students get the opportunity of direct placements after the completion of their courses. Though TMF is currently ensuring free of cost courses, we are planning to charge a nominal amount for the trainings in future. ”

Nidhi Pundhir, Director, HCL Foundation, told BE, “Under skill development, we focus on certain unconventional segments to ensure that there is long-term investment in building not only hard skills but also soft skills of the candidates to guarantee their employment space. We have been operating in certain sectors like retail and sales. Recently, we have shifted into sectors such as theatre, baking, automation, automobile painting industry, hospitality and bedside patient care. Giving dignity to individuals from under-privileged backgrounds is a core value of our skill development programme.”

Government policies and schemes

The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) in its Annual Report 2016-2017, estimated that by 2022 more than 126.87 million new people in 34 different sectors would need skills trainings. In February 2019, the MSDE and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) launched the ‘Apprenticeship Programme’ through National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAP) for the existing graduate students from more than 40,000 colleges.

The objective of the National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 (which was previously entitled as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 1 - (PMKVY 1) was to meet the challenge of skilling at scale with speed and standard. This policy will link skill development to improve employability and productivity and aimed to skill 402 million people by 2022. Later, the government launched the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 2 (PMKVY 2) in July 2016. Skill based education schemes of the central government, monitored through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) are mentioned below.

Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) was a central government scheme supported by the World Bank that covered four key result areas like institutional strengthening, quality assurance, inclusion and expanding skills through PPPs. The project received a fund of $675 million (`4455 crore) to teach over five lakh trainees.

Udaan was a special industry initiative for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) in partnership between Indian corporates and the Ministry of Home Affairs that covered graduates, post graduates and three year engineering diploma holders. The government portal of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship states, “The Scheme aims to cover 40,000 youth of J&K over a period of five years and `750 crore has been earmarked for implementation of the scheme over a period of five years.”

The National Skill Certification and Monetary Reward Scheme also known as Standard Training Assessment and Reward (STAR) was operational between August 2013 and September 2014 to work through various Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), Training Providers (TPs) and independent Assessment Agencies (AAs). Additionally, the central government has previously introduced polytechnic activities under the ‘Coordinated Action for Skill Development’ 2015-16 mission.

The scheme of vocationalisation of secondary education mandates the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) to conduct assessments and certification jointly with the state boards that runs for four years from class IX to Class XII.

On March 8, 2018, on occasion of the International Women’s Day, the NSDC signed an MoU with the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) under the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD). The training modules are affiliated to the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF).

Policy gaps in skill development

The assessment of the ‘Skill India’ programme did not set a considerable example regarding significant employment generation. PMKVY (1 and 2), that has largely been on short-term skill courses, resulted in low placement rates. PMKVY1 that received enrollments of 18,00,000 youths, could offer placements to only 18% and PMKVY 2 that received enrollments of 600,000 youths could offer 12% placements till September, 2017. MSDE formed the Sharada Prasad  Committee to review the performance of skill councils and it stated that the targets set by the government were high in comparison with the sectoral demands for new employees. A large number of enrollments under the skill development centres in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan were ghost entries.

Roy Choudhury told BE, “The government's scheme starts with good causes but ends up with unfulfilled targets due to problems regarding implementation. The government should do better mapping on selecting students who will need the jobs. The numbers of enrolments under government schemes are huge but the issue of placement remains a question.”

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