In the present era of cut-throat competition market, skills play a game-changing role in any person’s life. Skills are essential even to secure a bare minimum job. Livelihood opportunities are affected by affected by supply and demand issues of market where skills become the deciding factor for a proper job and livelihood. India is one of the fastest growing economies with a humongous population of around a hundred and thirty crore. Out of this around fifty percent are below twenty five years of age and around sixty five are below 35 years. Youth in India are considered one of the assets for social and economic growth and for them to realise their full potential, they need to be equipped with efficient skills of good quality that are flexible in order to meet the changing needs of Indian as well as global job market.
Recognizing the importance of skills, Indian government has been setting up policies and institutional framework in order to expedite its vision of skill India. As per the 11th five-year plan, a National Skill Development Policy was framed in 2009 following which a National Skill Development Mission (NSDM) was launched in 2010. Subsequently the 12th five-year plan recommended a framework that would promote vocational trainings for skill development through Public-Private-Partnership (PPP). Later a specific department, that is Department Of Skill Development And Entrepreneurship was created, which was further transformed into a ministry in 2014 that is Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). The ministry has a function to meet the demands of National Skill Development Mission (NSDM) 2015. The NSDM aims to create convergence and expedite cross-sectoral decisions in order to co-ordinate and implement skill development. The ministry is aided by its function arms- National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), National Skill Development Funds (NSDF), Sectoral Skill Councils (SSCs), etc. In 2015, the government also notified the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in order to meet the demands of skill development at an efficient pace with good Standard and Sustainability. Other initiatives like Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Deen-Dayal Upadhyay Gramin Kaushal Yojana (DDU-GKY), Pradhan Mantri Yuva Yojana (PMYY) etc, have been undertaken by government.
Skill India Mission is the major government initiative for imparting employable skills to youth by means of both short-term as well as long term training. It basically has the objective to meet employers’ needs of skills and prepare workers by imparting skills so that they can secure a decent livelihood. PMKVY-2015 is a flagship scheme under Skill India Mission, whose objective is to enable and mobilise a large number of youth to take up industrial skills training so that they can get a proper job. The scheme has also adopted Recognition to Prior Learning (RPL) to improve skills of people who have some previous education or skill sets. The PMKVY provides training in accordance with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) which basically acts as a quality assurance framework that also organises all qualification based on series of levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude. According to MSDE report ‘under PMKVY, around 19.85 lakh candidates were trained out of which 2.62 lakh (13.23%) got post-training placements’. The scheme was relaunched in 2016 as PMKVY 2.0 (2016-2020) and under this till June 2019 ‘there was successful completion of training for 52.12 lakh candidates, out of which 12.60 lakh (24.18%) got placements’. The PMKVY 2.0 aims to train 10 million youth by 2020, with a breakup of 6 million under fresh candidate category and 4 million under RPL category. Similar to PMKVY 1.0, the second version also had low rate of job placements. As per government data, ’till November 2018 only 3.6 million had enrolled in PMKVY-2.0, out of which 3.39 million had received training, 2.6 million had received certification of training completion. This was 66%, and 74% short of target respectively.’ As per PMKVY report,’under NSDC- STAR programme, 1.4 million were trained, 0.9 million certified, 0.1 million placed, with a placement rate of 8.5% only’. As per Periodic Labour Force survey (PLFS) 2017-2018, about 33% of formally trained youth remained unemployed in 2017-2018. Also the sector which was in worst condition with respect to unemployment was IT sector which ironically is a strong market sector for India. The PLFS report also stated that around 48% of employees reported lack of talent as the cause for low rates of recruitment. These statistics clearly indicate that a gap exists between number of skilled workers and number of skilled workers who get job placements. It also highlights the inadequate training infrastructure and low quality of skill education.
There are a number of reasons due to which skill India is unable to achieve its full potential. The primary issue in the mission is the gap between people trained and people who get proper job after training. This issue arises due to lack of quality skill training infrastructure, lack of holistic skills due to which people cannot upgrade their skills to meet market demand etc. Another important issue is the lack of monitoring and regulating authority for standard of training and outcome from training. People even after receiving skill training are unable to find proper jobs, wages and improved life quality. This gap goes unnoticed due to absence of proper monitoring body. Further there has been a rampant spread of private training centers that are not properly regulated and neither do they receive proper accrediation, thereby decreasing accountability and standards. Also there is almost negligible private investment in the mission. The NSDC which was envisioned as a PPP model has not been able to attract sufficient private investment and around 99% of its funding is done by government. Some pillars of skills framework like Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and employers offering skill training are not even NSQF complaint.
Government in 2016 formed the Sharda Prasad Committee in order to improve Skill India. Certain recommendations are discussed below:-
It recommended setting up of Vocational Education Training Centres (VETCs) on the pattern of general courses like engineering, etc. It also recommended that MSDE should setup National Skills University which would perform the role of overall affiliation university for VETCs. The committee called for the creation of National Standards in alignment with International Standards. MSDE should follow uniform National Training Standards and Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) should work in cooperation with employers to ensure that demand based skills are imparted. It recommended establishment of a PPP model between governments, industry, SSCs and also establishment of a national skill development fund called ‘Reimbursable Industry Contribution (RIC)’. As per RIC, employers who employ more than a specific number of people need to pay 2% of their wage bill as RIC and later after preparing annual training plan, they can get reimbursement from RIC. The committee suggested creation of a well defined RPL network to fill up skill gaps and help school dropouts to find a better job by improving their skill set. It recommended decreasing the number of SSCs to meet National Industrial Classification and creating a system for training of trainers and use of technology for achieving faster and efficient results.
The Sharda Prasad Committee recommendations will increase efficiency and output of Skill India Mission but further modifications are needed for success of the mission. First and foremost government must adopt and ensure strict implementation of the committee’s recommendations. Government must undertake awareness programmes in order to make people realise that vocational courses are complementary to general courses and are by no means inferior from them. The government should take up initiatives aimed at skilling and re-skilling older educated people who might have been left behind due to technological advancements. Government should also adopt steps for regular skill updation of workers in respect to the fast changing market demand. Regular surveys must be conducted by certified bodies like NSSO in order to collect actual ground data of skill gaps and to monitor and regulate the output of the skill mission. Also government should attract and promote private investment in skill development.
Presently, India records an abysmal 4.69% of workforce with formal vocational skills but it still has the capability to become the skill capital of the world. this is possible only after modifying the current approach which is resulting in increased skill gap. The use of technology and putting in place an efficient monitoring, regulating body will prove to be beneficial for the mission in the long run. Skill India is an ambitious project and it can be a solution to India’s unemployment problem if and when it is implemented in an organised manner striving to increase actual output.