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Skill India: needs urgent attention

Context:

  • It has been a year since Sharada Prasad Committee has submitted its recommendations on the improvement of Skill India Scheme.

Background:

15th July, 2015:

  • Skill India Scheme was launched on the occasion of the first-ever World Youth Skills Day.
  • Two fold goals of Skill India Scheme:
    • To meet employers’ needs of skills
    • To prepare workers (young and old) for a decent livelihood

2016:

  • A review committee, Sharada Prasad Committee, for Rationalization and Optimization of the Functioning of the Sector Skill Councils (SSC) was constituted.

2017:

  • Sharada Prasad Committee submitted its
  • Two fold overview the recommendations:
    • Vocational education/training (VET) is not just for underprivileged communities.
    • It is should not be confirmed to those who cannot make it through formal education.

2018:

  • After an year of Sharada Prasad Committee’s report on Skill India, it is important to look at the reforms it suggested and action taken in the (VET) system.

Important facts about Skill India are:

  • About 64% of India’s populationis expected to be in the working age group of 15-59 years by 2026.
  • Yet, 30% of India’s youth are neither employed nor in education or training.
  • Also both the service and manufacturing sector (Make in India) requires highly skilled labors.
  • Thus the Skill India programme was launched with an aim to skill 402 million people by 2022.

Major challenges with Skill India Programme are:

  • Designing a model which benefits employer, training providers, trainee and the government,
  • Strong and effective linkages between the industry and the trainer institute,
  • Provisions of constant knowledge upgrading of the trainers,
  • Creating effective convergence between school education and the governmental efforts, and
  • Creation of institutional mechanism for research development, quality assurance, examination, certification, affiliation and accreditation.

Major government steps taken to address the above mentioned challenges are:

  • Rationalization of the Central Government Schemes on Skill Development.
  • Skill gap studies are being conducted by NSDC for 21 high growth sectors,
  • National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has set up a Policy Implementation Unit (PIU) for reviewing the implementation and progress of the various initiatives and undertaking corrective measures under this policy, and
  • Feedback and provision has also been made to facilitate constant consultation with the stakeholder.

Core recommendations made by Sharada Prasad Committee and actions to be taken for its implementation are:

Changing the dynamics of VET:

  • Separate stream for vocational education (in secondary education), creating vocational schools and vocational colleges for upward mobility, and having a Central university to award degrees and diplomas.
  • Please note: Vocational education/training (VET):
    • Must be for a minimum of a year,
    • Must includes internship (without which certification is not possible), and
    • Short-term training should be confined to recognising prior learning of informally trained workers who are already working.
  • Action to be taken: industry-employer engagement with each pillar of the VET ecosystem:
    • secondary schools;
    • ITIs, public and private;
    • National Skill Development Corporation  (NSDC-funded) VTPs;
    • Ministries that train, and
    • Firms that conduct enterprise-based training.

Realization of human potential:

  • Aligning the courses to international requirements, ensuring a basic foundation in the 3Rs, and life-long learning.
  • Actions to be taken: The focus should be in strengthening:
    • Reading,
    • Writing and
    • Arithmetic skills.

Keeping a check on Sector Skill Councils (SSCs):

  • The number of Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) should correspond to the National Industrial (Activity) Classification.
  • Please note: Sector Skill Council are:
    • Autonomous,
    • Industry-led,
    • Sector-specific skill builders, and
    • Ensure that skills training meet employer needs.
  • Action to be taken: Credible assessment board to keep a check on ethics and accountability issue when there are too many sector skill councils.

Other actions to be taken:

  • Engaging SSCs with each pillar of the VET eco-system, and not just NSDC-funded VTPs.
  • Enhance employer ownership and responsibility.
  • More reflection from stakeholders on the actual value addition done by the skilling initiative.
    • Note: The NSDC receives 99% of its funding from government, but its flagship scheme has a less than 12% record of placement for trainees.

Conclusion:

  • Thus, with appropriate measures and guidelines, the reforms suggested by the Sharada Prasad Committee can be a good starting point to restore India’s demographic dividend.

 

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