Skill development and National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF)

Skill development and National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF)

Context: NSQF is an important component of Skill India Programme and improvements in NSQF can realize the aims of Skill India.


About NSQF:

  • This organises all qualifications/courses according to a series of levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude, in 10 levels.
  • It is similar to classes in schools, for instance, level 1 corresponds to Class 9 (because vocational education begins in secondary school). Levels 2, 3 and 4 correspond to Classes 10, 11 and 12, respectively. Levels 5-7 correspond to undergraduate education, and so on.
  • The Ministry of Skill Development has mandated all training/educational programmes/courses be NSQF-compliant.
  • It has mandated that all training and educational institutions must define eligibility criteria for admission to various courses in terms of NSQF levels. 
India Skills 2018:
● It is a national skill competition organized by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
● Twenty-seven States participated in India Skills 2018, held in Delhi. Maharashtra secured maximum medals, followed by Odisha and Delhi.
● India Skills was open to government industrial training institutes, engineering colleges, Skill India schemes, corporates, government colleges, and school dropouts.


Five pillars/sources of skill training in India:

  • The secondary schools/polytechnics.
  • Industrial training institutes.
  • NSDC funded private training providers offering short-term training.
  • 16 Ministries providing mostly short-term training.
  • Employers offering enterprise-based training.

A majority of the participants in India Skills, 2018 were from corporates (offering enterprise-based training) and industrial training institutes. Neither industrial training institutes nor corporates’ courses are aligned with the NSQF. Less than 20% participants were from the short-term courses of the NSDC which are NSQF compliant. If India Skills 2018 was only open for the NSQF-aligned institutions, it would have been a big failure.

Problems facing NSQF:

  • Unlike general academic education, where certain level of certification is required before further progression is permitted, there is no clear definition of the course curriculum within the NSQF that enables upward mobility.
  • There is no connection of the tertiary level vocational courses to prior real knowledge of theory or practical experience in a vocational field.
  • Efforts to introduce new Bachelor of Vocation and Bachelor of Skills courses were made, but the alignment of these courses was not completed.
  • Lack of alignment between the HRD Ministry (responsible for the school level and Bachelor of Vocation courses) and the Ministry of Skill Development (responsible for non-school/non-university-related vocational courses).
  • There are too many Sector Skill Councils in India and each is not comprehensive, like we have four SSCs for manufacturing but they are treated as one in World Skills courses.

The following can be done to improve skill framework in India:

  • There is a need for more holistic training and to re-examine the narrow, short-term NSQF-based NSDC courses.
  • NSDC should include skills in broader occupation groups, so that trainees are skilled enough to compete at the international level.
  • SSCs should be consolidated in line with the National Industrial Classification of India to improve quality, outcomes, and help in directly assessing the trainee’s competence. It might also bring some coherence to our skills data collection system.
  • Vocational education must provide broader skills in broader occupational groups.

A re-alignment in skill programme would prepare India for representation at the 45th World Skills Competition, scheduled in Russia this year.

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