‘Skill India’ urgently needs reforms

‘Skill India’ urgently needs reforms

Context

Salvaging the Indian demographic dividend 

Background

Sharada Prasad Committee: In 2016, the Government of India formed the Sharada Prasad Committee to rationalise the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) and improve ‘Skill India’.

Main point stressed in the suggestions by the Committee

Focus on youth and need for vocational education not just for underprivileged communities but for all 

Suggestions of the committee in detail

  • Streaming for students
  • It suggests concrete steps to ensure a mindset change, such as having a 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
  • A global alignment
    • The second recurring theme is the realisation of human potential
    • This means aligning the courses to international requirements, ensuring a basic foundation in the 3Rs, and life-long learning
    • It implies national standards for an in-demand skill set with national/global mobility that translates into better jobs
  • Accountability The third theme is to do what is right when no one is watching you, because, as in other industries, the regulator has displayed a limited capacity to regulate. Cases of a conflict of interests, of rigged assessments and of training happening only on paper are not new.

Policy measures needed

Unification of the entire VET system:

  • An NSDC-centric focus has left the skill development efforts of 17 ministries out of the same scrutiny.
  • ‘Skill India’ can have an impact only when all of them work together and learn from each other
  • SSCs, which are supposedly industry representatives, should be engaging themselves with each pillar of the system, and not just NSDC-funded VTPs 

To enhance employer ownership, responsibility 

Only 36% of India’s organised sector firms conduct in-firm training (mostly large ones, which are also the only ones that take on apprentices under a Government of India Act)

Committee’s recommendation: reimbursable industry contribution model

  • It could ensure reimbursements for those companies undertaking training while rewarding industry for sharing and undertaking skilling until everyone in the company is skilled
  • This will lay the foundation for making at least our organised workforce 100% skilled.

Question raised

Does the government, which is not generating much employment in the public sector, really know what industry’s skill requirements are in the private sector?

Government should try to gather data

Private employers do know industry’s skill requirements but there has been no serious effort by them to gather data

Regular surveys for policy making  

  • One such role is to have surveys, once every five years, through the National Sample Survey Office, to collect data on skill providers and skill gaps by sector
  • Such data can guide evidence-based policy-making, as against the current approach of shooting in the dark.

Value addition should be measured

NSDC: The NSDC, which was envisioned as a public-private partnership, receives 99% of its funding from government, but its flagship scheme has a less than 12% record of placement for trainees

NSQF: The NSQF framework has seen little adoption in private sector. And, more than two-thirds of courses developed have not trained even one student so far.

Conclusion

India can surely become the world’s skill capital but not with what it is doing right now. The reforms suggested by the committee can be a good starting point for we cannot let another generation lose its dreams.

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