Skill India: lacking a holistic plan

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s incumbent government races to the elections in 2019, their flagship programme, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), has shown a mixed bag of results according to the Sharada Prasada Committee report on Skill India.

After the programme was launched in July 2015, Rs 1,500 crore was allotted for its purposes. The goal, then, was to impart training in industry-relevant skills for immediate employment to 2.4 million needy youth.

Disregarding the number of those who were merely being reskilled for alignment of competencies to current practices, the nodal authority, the National Skill Development Council (NSDC), exceeded its target by completing coaching for 1.8 million people and certifying another 1.2 million people in the first year itself.

In 2016, a revamped version of the KVY was launched. This programme aimed at providing training to 10 million young people by 2020 and carried a budget of Rs 12,000 crore. However, data has shown that only 1.4 million people were trained by the NSDC under the reward programme, while 0.9 million people were certified and 0.1 million people were actually placed. That makes up just 8.5% of those who underwent the skilling programmes.

Short-term courses

The Skill India mission is pledged to facilitate the entry of 104.62 million new employees into the industry by 2022. The NSDC exceeded its target of training 2.4 million youth in various short-term skill courses in the first year (2015) but fell short in the second year. A very low percentage of learners were actually placed. The reasons have been attributed to excessive targets and the short-term skills the programme laid emphasis upon.

Hence, to meet the targets of the Skill India mission and alleviate the gap between skills and labour supply, a more holistic approach encompassing longer-term skills and combinations with career-spanning competencies are needed.

Further, the government must include their project partners in policymaking so that the gap between ground reality and policy can be minimised and maximum benefit can be reaped against the resources (time, money, energy) invested.

The Niti Aayog has correctly pointed out that a more engaging way to measure skill development indicators is urgently required to accurately gauge where our society stands today.

Employability attitudes

The government hopes to build vast banks of employable workers rapidly and in a standard manner by strengthening institutions and infrastructure, exploring synergies between the government and industry and roping in overseas stakeholders and facilitators.

The same policies also envision re-skilling 400 million people by 2022. However, it has also been underlined by various surveys conducted among the youth for whom the programme was meant that certifications and skills do not match their aspirations or their aptitudes.

To resolve this dilemma, it has been suggested, that employability skills and attitudes be inculcated in schoolgoing children from a very early age. Our youth need to understand that professions require hard work, patience and one may be required to perform a lot of labour while striving to reach the career path one is best suited to. Varied experiences of different trades will only help shape their character and give them something to fall back should they fail in the venture closest to their hearts.

Children need to be made to understand that no value is created from scratch and that hard work is rewarded by applying the psychology of instant rewards or punishment in the form of loss. That way, when these children reach working age, a culture of working-for-a-living and corresponding work-reward correlations would have been innately formed.

Sustainable skills

At the same time, one cannot absolve the government of its failure to conduct adequate research and make skilling programmes relevant to actual demand in the industry. Where technical skills are increasingly likely to be automated in the future, it makes no sense to train youth to perform traditional assembly line functions.

Knowledge of digital systems and how they are likely to affect trades and vocations in the present is essential if the skilling programme is to remain relevant and last the learner a lifetime by helping her learn how to learn herself.

(The writer is founder chairman, ICA Edu Skills)

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Skill India: lacking a holistic plan

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