India is passing through the phase of demographic transition which could be the biggest opportunity or the biggest concern of the country depending upon the utilization of its huge work force. India adds 12 million people to its workforce annually, but very few have any formal skill training. Today, less than four per cent of the Indian workforce is skilled, in contrast to the 42 per cent in US, 76 per cent in Germany, 80 per cent in Japan and 96 per cent in South Korea. Our workforce readiness is one of the lowest in the world and a large chunk of existing training infrastructure is irrelevant to industry needs. Without proper skills this huge youth population would be a demographic liability instead of demographic dividend, However, this could change if we reach out to more people with quality learning opportunities, revamp our existing infrastructure and execute plans more efficiently by making better use of monetary and resource support available.
Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development for any country. Countries with higher and better levels of skills adjust more effectively to the challenges and opportunities of world of work. India is facing several skill development issues which are hampering its’ progress & economic growth.
Why India needs Skill Development?
In the words of the Mahatma,“The brain must be educated through the hand. The teacher must learn the craft and correlate his knowledge to the craft. The craft cannot be separated from education.”
A. Demographic Dividend:
1. Demographic dividend does not mean just people; it means skilled, educated or employed people.
2. The ‘demographic window’ is only a span of few decades. The skilled youth is required to save demographic dividend from becoming demographic disaster.
3. It is worth mentioning here that India has 54 per cent of its total population below 25 years of age. Over the next 20 years, the labour force in the industrialised world is expected to decline by 4 per cent, while in India it will increase by 32 per cent who are not sufficiently skilled and employable.
4. A conservative estimated figure shows that 104.62 million fresh entrants to the workforce need to be skilled by 2022 in addition to the 298.25 million working persons needing skill training.
B. Sectoral mobilization:
1. Less number of people will be required to work in farming as productivity improves. This would result in sectoral mobilization of workforce from agriculture to secondary and tertiary activities.
2. Skills are the bridge between good jobs and the workforce .Setting standards and quality of training is a pre requisite for skilling and its utilization.
C. New schemes:
1. Only a skilled workforce would lead to the success of initiatives like Make in India and Digital India and smart cities.
D. Skill Capital of World:
1. To convert this vision into reality, India needs to create a skilled and productive workforce matching international standards of quality and productivity through integration of skills and training along with education.
E. Better Employment:
1. Skills are needed to those currently in colleges for them to be better employed.
F. Skill availability and accessibility to avenues for successful ventures can enhance the livelihoods of many.
Objectives of ‘Skill India’
The main goal is to create opportunities, space and scope for the development of the talents of the Indian youth and to develop more of those sectors which have already been put under skill development for the last so many years and also to identify new sectors for skill development. The new programme aims at providing training and skill development to 500 million youth of our country by 2020, covering each and every village. Various schemes are also proposed to achieve this objective.
Features of ‘Skill India ‘
The emphasis is to skill the youths in such a way so that they get employment and also improve entrepreneurship. Provides training, support and guidance for all occupations that were of traditional type like carpenters, cobblers, welders, blacksmiths, masons, nurses, tailors, weavers etc. More emphasis will be given on new areas like real estate, construction, transportation, textile, gem industry, jewellery designing, banking, tourism and various other sectors, where skill development is inadequate or nil.
The training programmes would be on the lines of international level so that the youths of our country can not only meet the domestic demands but also of other countries like the US, Japan, China, Germany, Russia and those in the West Asia. Another remarkable feature of the ‘Skill India’ programme would be to create a hallmark called ‘Rural India Skill’, so as to standardise and certify the training process.
Tailor-made, need-based programmes would be initiated for specific age groups which can be like language and communication skills, life and positive thinking skills, personality development skills, management skills, behavioural skills, including job and employability skills.
Programme seeks to create an end-to-end implementation framework for skill development, which provides opportunities for life-long learning. This includes incorporation of skilling in the school curriculum, providing opportunities for quality long and short-term skill training, by providing gainful employment and ensuring career progression that meets the aspirations of trainees.
It will align employer/industry demand and workforce productivity with trainees’ aspirations for sustainable livelihoods, by creating a framework for outcome focused training.
It will build capacity for skill development in critical un-organized sectors (such as the construction sector, where there few opportunities for skill training) and provide pathways for re-skilling and up-skilling workers in these identified sectors, to enable them to transition into formal sector employment.
It also seeks to develop a network of quality instructors/trainers in the skill development ecosystem by establishing high quality teacher training institutions. Maintain a national database, known as the Labour Market Information System (LMIS), which will act as a portal for matching the demand and supply of skilled workforce in the country.
The course methodology of ‘Skill India’ would be innovative, which would include games, group discussions, brainstorming sessions, practical experiences, case studies etc.
However, a government-appointed panel has found that the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) – spent over Rs 1,500 crore in skilling over 18 lakh people but failed to achieve key objectives. . This puts in context the various facets of this flagship mission and the various issues concerned with it along with way forward.
Issues in implementation of Skill India Mission:
• The targets allocated to them were very high and without regard to any sectoral requirement. Everybody was chasing numbers without providing employment to the youth or meeting sectoral industry needs.
• No evaluation was conducted of PMKVY 2015 (the first version of the scheme) to find out the outcomes of the scheme and whether it was serving the twin purpose of providing employment to youth and meeting the skill needs of the industry before launching such an ambitious scheme.
• The focus of PMKVY has been largely on the short-term skill courses, resulting in low placements. There has been an over emphasis on this scheme and hence it is seen as the answer to all skill-related issues.
• The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) have pointed out flaws in the design and operations of the NSDC and National Skill Development Fund which has resulted in falling short of skill development goals. Majority of them also could not achieve the placement targets for the trained persons.
• The Sharada Prasad Committee, held the NSDC responsible for poor implementation of the Standard Training Assessment and Reward (STAR) programme. It highlighted that only 8.5 per cent of the persons trained were able to get employment. That is what has been claimed by NSDC.
• The government report has found fault with the STAR scheme on several counts. STAR offered school dropouts financial incentives to acquire new skills, but the report said that “of those who got their results, only 24% have received certificates and less than 18% have received monetary rewards. This is despite the fact that 80% candidates reported having bank accounts, and 91.3% stated they had Aadhaar numbers”.
• The Report also cites “serious conflict of interests” in the functioning of the National Skill Development Corporation.
• NSDC has not been able to discharge its responsibilities for setting up sector skill councils (SSCs) owing to lots of instances of serious conflict of interest and unethical practices.
• As per its original mandate, the NSDC should be mobilizing resources for skill development from the industry, financial institutions, multilateral and bilateral external aid agencies, private equity providers and ministries and departments of the central government and states. But the committee said found that the NSDC did not follow any standard criteria for creation of SSCs which not only increased their number but created overlapping jurisdictions.
• Another concern that arose was that the targets allocated to them were very high and without regard to any sectoral requirement. Everybody was chasing numbers without providing employment to the youth or meeting sectoral industry needs.
• There have been apprehensions on how many of the 11.7 million trained in the past two years are really in jobs.
It is a path that needs to be treading carefully as it involves the future of our youth. Steps needed are:
• We need to have a holistic approach to vocational education and skill development by having a defined approach for both short-term and long-term training courses to meet the objectives of the Skill India programme.
• In respect of NSRD's activities i.e. core research, evaluation, data analytics and international partnerships need efficient handling, as a mere collection of raw data on various repositories may not portray the proper insights or serve any purpose.
• Merely sharing with the international expert or just importing overseas concepts followed in developed nation may not fetch us with any desired goal, but a clear understanding of trends in national economy, demographic parameters, heritage, culture and tradition(region-wise) and aspiration of people and other relevant indicators are essential before correlating the same for formulating new skilling strategies.
• More and more Indian Skill Development Services officers are to be recruited to work in the frontline administration, instead of engaging other services officers who do not possess the technical expertise vis-à-vis industry experience to supervise the skill development process in the country. ISDS service needs to be extended to the State's training directorates also.
• In NSDA for core research and data analytics job, a collaboration of core experts (from relevant occupations) with statistician and data analysts would probably fetch desirable outcome based on an in-depth understanding of futuristic direction.
• Establishing a Skill Development University to offer specialized degree programs which will provide advance skills.
• Online learning system could be utilized to impart skill/craft along with using fixed infrastructure. An open platform for e-content on skill development should be created where content can be crowd source.
• It is important to vocationalize the current education system by developing curricula in the lines with industry needs, creating infrastructure for skill training, involving the industry in all aspects of curricula development, training delivery, student assessments and creating a model where students can obtain skills and at the same time get a degree.
• Skills on Wheel type initiatives could be used to address infrastructure and transport constraints. There are shining examples of Skill Trucks operated in Brazil that take skills training to the rural, remote parts of the country.
• There should be increasing role of industry in all aspects of vocational training – providing latest machinery for training, governance, providing trainers from industry and doing assessment to ensure quality at each stage. Industry should emphasize on formal vocational training and certification at the time of hiring and for career advancement.
• Creating standard curricula and assessment across various agencies offering vocational courses. Formal training programs for vocational faculty and trainers so that they understand this pedagogy.
Skill development alone is not sufficient to address the unemployment problem; there is need for availability of job opportunities for those skills. It is not the time to produce people with skill training certificates; rather we need to produce people who are actually employable. For the people with skill certificates the industry must give a premium and preference to that certificate while hiring. If industry does not show traction towards this the entire ecosystem won’t be complete. We need to bring industries to the forefront of skill development rather than creating centres of skill development across India.
For any skill development effort to succeed, markets and industry need to play a large role in determining courses, curriculum and relevance. For this, employers need to be put in the driving seat, with the government acting as a regulator and not the implementer.
The government has its task cut out. What is needed is a willingness to act, and to take the difficult decisions that can help realise the ‘Skill India’ dream.