Skill India – A National Priority

By Dr Praveen Saxena
In Cover Story
March 6, 2017
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cover-storyToday, the world and India need a skilled workforce. If we have to promote the development of our country then our mission has to be `skill development’ and  `Skilled India’. Millions and millions of Indian youth should acquire the skills which could contribute towards making India a modern country. I also want to create a pool of young people who are able to create jobs and the ones who are not capable of creating jobs and do not have the opportunities, they must be in a position to face their counterparts in any corner of the world while keeping their heads high by virtue of their hard work and their dexterity of hands and win the hearts of people around the world through their skills. We want to go for the capacity building of such young people. My brothers and sisters, having taken a resolve to enhance the  skill development at a highly rapid pace, I want to accomplish this.

Excerpts from the Independence Day speech of
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi

Today, India is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 62% of its population  in the working age group (15-59 years), and more than 54% of its total population below 25 years of age. Its population pyramid is expected to bulge” across the  15–59 age group over the next decade. It is further estimated that the average age of the population in India by 2020 will be 29 years as against 40 years in USA, 46 years in Europe and 47 years in Japan . In fact,during the next 20 years the labour force in the industrialized world is expected to decline by4%, while in India it will increase by 32%. This poses a formidable challenge and a huge opportunity. To reap this demographic dividend which  is expected to last for next 25 years,India needs to equip its workforce with employable skills and knowledge so that they can contribute substantively to the economic growth of the country.

Ministry for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (earlier Department of SkillDevelopment and Entrepreneurship notified in July 2014) has been set up in November 2014 togive fresh impetus to the Skill India agenda and help create an appropriate ecosystem thatfacilitates imparting employable skills to its growing workforce over the next few decades.Apart from meeting its own demand, India has the potential to provide skilled workforce to fillthe expected shortfall in the ageing developed world.

National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015:

cover-story-cRecognizing the imperative need for skill development, National Skill Development Policy was first announced by the Government of India in 2009. As envisaged, the 2009 policy was revisited this year and the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 has been announced.  The primary objective of this policy is to meet the challenge of skilling at scale with speed, standard (quality) and sustainability. It aims to provide an umbrella framework to all skilling activities being carried out within the country, to align them to common standards and link skilling with demand centres. In addition to laying down the objectives and expected outcomes, the policy also identifies the overall institutional framework which will act as a vehicle to reach the expected outcomes.

As per the policy, skills development is the shared responsibility of the key stakeholders viz. Government, the entire spectrum of corporate sector, community based organizations, those outstanding, highly qualified and dedicated individuals who have been working in the skilling and entrepreneurship space for many years, industry and trade organizations and other stakeholders. The policy links skills development to improved employability and productivity in paving the way forward for inclusive growth in the country. The skill strategy is complemented by specific efforts to promote entrepreneurship in order to create ample opportunities for the skilled workforce.

The Vision, Mission and objective of the Policy:

The Vision, Mission and objective of the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 are:
Vision: “To create an ecosystem of empowerment by Skilling on a large Scale at Speed with high Standards and to promote a culture of innovation based entrepreneurship which can generate wealth and employment so as to ensure Sustainable livelihoods for all citizens in the country.”

Mission The mission is to:

  • Create a demand for skilling  across the country;
  • Correct and align skilling with  required competencies;
  • Connect the supply of skilled  human resources with sectoral demands;
  • Certify and assess in alignment with global and national standards; and
  • Catalyse an ecosystem wherein productive and innovative entrepreneurship germinates, sustains and grows leading to creation of a more dynamic entrepreneurial economy and more formal wage employment.

Objectives

The core objective of the Policy is to empower the individual, by enabling her/him to realize their full potential through a process of lifelong learning where competencies are accumulated via instruments such as credible certifications, credit accumulation and transfer, etc. As individuals grow, the society and nation also  benefit from their productivity and growth. This will involve:

  1. Make quality vocational training  aspirational for both youth and employers whereby youth sees it as a matter of choice and employer acknowledges the productivity linked to skilled workforce by paying the requisite premium.
  2. Ensure both vertical and horizontal pathways to skilled workforce for further growth by providing seamless integration of skill training with formal education.
  3. Focus on an outcome-based approach towards quality skilling that on one hand results in increased employability and better livelihoods for individuals, and on the other hand translates into improved productivity across primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.
  4. Increase the capacity and quality of training infrastructure and trainers to ensure equitable and easy access to every citizen.
  5. Address human resource needs by aligning supply of skilled workers with sectoral requirements of industry and the country strategic priorities including flagship programmes like Make in India.
  6. Establish an IT based information system for  aggregating demand and supply of skilled workforce which can help in matching and connecting supply with demand.
  7. Promote national standards in the skilling space through active involvement of employers in setting occupational standards, helping develop curriculum, providing apprenticeship opportunities, participating in assessments, and providing gainful employment to skilled workforce with adequate compensation.
  8. Operationalize a well-defined quality assurance framework aligned with global standards to facilitate mobility of labour.
  9. Leverage modern technology to ensure scale, access and outreach, in addition to ease of delivering content and monitoring results
  10. Recognise the value of onthe-job training, by making apprenticeships in actual work environments an integral part of all skill development efforts.
  11. Ensure that the skilling needs of the socially and geographically disadvantaged and marginalized groups (like the SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, differently abled persons etc.) are appropriately taken care of.
  12. Promote increased participation of women in the workforce through appropriate skilling and gender mainstreaming of training.
  13.  Promote commitment and ownership of all stakeholders towards skill development and create an effective coordination mechanism.

The Policy Implementation:

Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has been created to fulfill the vision of a ‘Skilled India’ where human resource development is the primary focus. MSDE will be responsible for coordination with all concerned for evolving an appropriate skill development framework, removal of disconnect between demand for, and supply of, skilled manpower, skill upgradation, building of new skills, innovative thinking and talents for existing and future jobs. MSDE will also play the lead role in ensuring the implementation of the National Policy for Skill development and Entrepreneurship 2015.

Skill development and entrepreneurship are complementary to each other. The key stakeholders include Central Ministries/Departments, State Governments, and industry/ employers. There is a need to ensure alignment of the efforts of all stakeholders in skill and entrepreneurship landscape towards a common goal. While, MSDE will co-ordinate and converge all efforts in this space, the relevant Central Ministries/ Departments, State Governments and industry/employers are expected to fulfil the roles and responsibilities pertaining to their domain.

MSDE is responsible for coordination with all concerned for evolving an appropriate skill development framework.  The implementation of Policy will be supported by three institutions: National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), and Directorate General of Training (DGT).

“The National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has been  structured as an outcome oriented policy. Given the realities of rapidly changing economic landscape in the  country, entrepreneurship opportunities have emerged as an important source of  meeting the aspirations of the youth”

National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) has been set up as a Society in June 2013. NSDA is focusing on the two verticals of Quality Assurance and policy research in the skills space. It is mainly responsible for Operationalizing and implementation of National Skills Qualification Framework and the National Labour Market Information System. National Skills Research Division is established to serve as the apex division for providing technical and research support. This division is acting as a think tank and a core skill development hub, which will connect implementation of the Mission with academic research and data.

National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), a Public Private Partnership was set up in 2008 as a Section 25 company under Companies Act 1956 with shareholding of GOI 49% and private sector 51%. It is the nodal organization for all private sector initiatives in the short term skilling space. Its mandate primarily include,

  • Catalyzing the creation of  market-based, scalable business by providing funding through a combination of debt, equity and grants.
  • Implementing skills voucher programme
  • Driving engagement with industry and businesses
  • Promoting centers of excellence for training of trainers in coordination with States and SSCs
  • Initiating and incubating Sector Skills Councils (SSCs)

Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) : an important arm of execution

cover-story-bIn order to ensure that skill development efforts being made by all stakeholders in the system are in accordance with actual needs of industry, Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) have been set up. SSCs are industry-led and industry-governed bodies, which will help link the requirements of industry with appropriately trained manpower. SSCs are to discharge the following functions:

  • Identification of skill develop- ment needs including preparing a catalogue of types of skills, range and depth of skills to facilitate individuals to choose from them
  • Development of a sector skill development plan and maintain skill inventory.
  • Determining skills/competency standards and qualifications and getting them notified as per National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF).
  • Standardization of affiliation, accreditation, examination and certification process in accordance with NSQF as determined by National Skill Qualification Committee (NSQC). May also conduct skill based assessment and certification for QP /NOS aligned training programmes.
  • Participation in the setting up of affiliation, accreditation, examination and certification norms for their respective sectors.
  • Plan and facilitate the execution of Training of Trainers along with NSDC and States.
  • Promotion of academies of excellence.
  • Will lay special emphasis on the skilling needs of ST/SC, differently abled and minority populations
  • SSCs shall ensure that the persons trained and skilled in accordance with the norms laid down by them are assured of employment at decent wages. NSDC has been mandated to

set up Sector Skills Councils for the purpose of developing sectorspecific competencies/skills, quality assurance through accreditation of the skills acquired by trainees, curriculum development for the skills training, qualification framework and setting of standards and benchmarks, recruitment and placement of trained and skilled workforce, as well as a data collection,  management and provider to the industry.

Industry has acknowledged the importance of skills development, nationally as well as globally, vital for the industrial development.  The SSCs are required to provide quality and quantity of skilled manpower that is the right fit for the industry and sector, thereby increasing efficiency, innovation and quality.

The Sector Skill Council are national level organizations with a government-industry interface and partnership with stakeholders from industry, labor as well as the academia, where the initial funding is by the government and as it grows it becomes selffunded. The Sector Skill Council area separate entity formed as a Society or a Sec 25 Company with a separate Governing Council and CEO and secretariat. Specifically, SSCs complement the vocational institutes and existing education system for an interface with the industry (the sector in specific for which that SSC is set up).  Sector Skill Councils are national partnership organizations that bring together all the stakeholders – industry, labor and the academia.

A National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) has been set up by Government of India with the objective of encouraging skill  development in the country. A public Trust set up by Government of India is the custodian of the Fund. The Fund acts as a receptacle for all donations, contribution in cash or kind from all Contributors (including Government, multilateral organizations, corporations, etc) for furtherance of the objectives of the Fund. It will serve as the aggregator vehicle for pooling the funds of multilateral agencies, companies, foundations, NGOs and individuals for skilling interventions by leveraging existing infrastructure and resources. The platform will also be subjected to timely audits to ensure that the contributions are used for the intended purpose.

To attract funds from industry, companies will be encouraged to spend at least 25% of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds on skill development initiatives directly or through NSDF. Further, industry should earmark at least 2% of its payroll bill (including for contract labour) for skill development initiatives in their respective sectors. These funds can be channelized for skilldevelopment activities either through respective SSCs or through NSDF. All Government schemes across sectors will be encouraged to apportion a certain percentage (10%) of the scheme budget towards skilling of human resources in local regions in the required sector.

Skills need to be an integral part of employment and economic growth strategies to spur employability and productivity. Coordination with other national macroeconomic paradigms and growth strategies is therefore critical. For a skills strategy to be successful it should be complemented by commensurate creation of jobs in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors

which will be a key outcome of overall economic growth including entrepreneurship cutting across all sectors.

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