The ‘Unnati scheme has been launched by the Central government with an aim to enhance the Skill baseofMGNREGA workers, which is now being surrounded by arguments for its ignorance to include beneficiaries and failure to address India’s dire need for skilled manpower.
Since its inception in 2020, just a little over 25,000 persons have been trained under the project, falling far short of its target of 2 lakh. The project was estimated to end by March 2022 but has now been extended for two years.
The issue rises as on the one hand there are many households who are just dependent on MGNREGA for their livelihood. In contrast, the beneficiaries identified by the states for skill and Training remain short in numbers.
The State government’s indifference towards the Unnati project is making the task difficult.
The central ministry has ordered the states to cover at least 20% of the households that complete 100 days of work under MGNREGA under the scheme (Unnati) to utilize its potential fully.
The Unnati Scheme:
The Unnati project is meant for providing training for one adult member (of age 18-45 years old) of a household who has completed 100 days of work under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA in the previous financial year from the year of commencement of the project.
Hence, it is a skilling project intended to upgrade the skill base of the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA beneficiaries, thereby improving their livelihoods, so that they can move from their current partial employment to full-time employment and hence reduce their dependence on Mahatma Gandhi NREGA.
Under the project, the Union Rural Development Ministry wants to link the performances of the States under the project with its labor budget for the upcoming financial year.
The household, from which candidates are selected for the training, continues to enjoy 100 days of work under Mahatma Gandhi NREGA.
The candidates undergoing training are paid a stipend for a maximum period of 100 days and for one program per household as per the wage rate prevailing in the concerned State/UT as per the provisions of the project.
Full expenditures towards a stipend, against wage loss compensation, are entirely borne by the Central Government.
A total of 2, 00,000 beneficiaries shall be imparted training under this project in a span of three years in 26 States and 2 UTs.
Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA):
MGNREGA is one of the largest work guarantee programs in the world launched in 2005 by the Ministry of Rural development.
The scheme's primary objective is to guarantee 100 days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to do public work-related unskilled manual work.
As of 2022-23, there are 15.4 crores, of active workers, under the MGNREGA.
How will it ensure Skill enhancement?
Under the project, the selected candidates are skilled using three established training programs — the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushal Yojana (DDU-GKY), the Rural Self Training Institute (RSETI), and the Krishi Vigyan Kendra.
The Grameen Kaushalya Yojana is a placement-linked program, in which 70% of the trained candidates have to be compulsorily employed with a minimum salary of Rs6,000 per month.
The RSETI is for entrepreneurial skills where persons in the age group of 18-45 get short-term residential training with long-term hand-holding support for up to two years.
A Krishi Vigyan Kendratrains candidates in trades related to the agricultural sectors.
Around 31% were illiterate, only 13% had primary education, and only 6% were college graduates.
Further, only about 2% of the workforce had formal vocational training, and only 9% had non-formal vocational training.
Hence, there is a need for India to increase its skilled manpower.
Challenge with India’s skill development schemes:
Fails to understand market demands: A distinct disadvantage of India’s approach towards skilling has been to ignore the needs of the market. For the most part, skills have been provided in a top-down fashion.
Thus, most skilling efforts focus almost solely on providing certain skills but fail to “match” them with the market's needs.