Is cross-sector collaboration the key to successful implementation of skill development in India?


There is an old saying that if you want to ensure prosperity for a hundred years, you should first invest in people. This adage holds particularly true for a country like India. Economic reforms in the last two decades have resulted in increased global exposure and a focus on the Indian industry’s competitiveness. This has drawn attention to the question of how globally competitive and skilled the industrial workforce is. It is important for India to take advantage of its favourable demographic profile. A higher-skilled labour force can serve as a catalyst in transforming India into a competitive middle-income country.

Need for multi-stakeholder involvement to promote skill development in India

Skill development is critical for enhancing the employability of India’s growing young population. For India to become the skill capital of the world, there is an urgent need to reimagine the skill strategy vis-à-vis market requirements. With more than third of the population expected to be in the productive age bracket by 2020, there is a clear opportunity for economic growth.  According to an official skill gap analysis, close to 460 million people need to be up-skilled or re-skilled across 24 sectors by 20221.

If skill training is to be used as the means to help India move from a developing to a developed nation within a decade, this transformation will not happen on its own. It can only be made possible through the efforts of all stakeholders – government, industry, social entrepreneurs, NGOs, educational institutions and civil society – unified in the common desire of promoting the cause of skill development.

UnLtd India JP Morgan Skill developmentJPG

UnLtd India partnered J.P Morgan to host ‘Skilling Matters – Adapting to a Shifting Paradigm’

To explore possibilities, and spark collaborations, UnLtd India partnered J.P Morgan to host ‘Skilling Matters – Adapting to a Shifting Paradigm’ – an event that brought together eminent speakers from the industry who engaged with social entrepreneurs in the skilling domain through panel discussions.

UnLtd India JP Morgan Skill development 1JPGThe event drew up interesting insights and perspectives on how cross-sector collaboration for improving skill training is becoming highly relevant in India as well as across the world. A key reason for forming cross-sector collaborations is that any government single-handedly cannot remedy a public problem. Collaborating with businesses, nonprofits, and community partners can reduce risks and provide more effective remedies. Multi-sector collaboration brings together relevant assets in terms of expertise, technology, knowledge, creativity, financial resources and transformative capacities2.

The Indian Government continues to focus on education and skill-training while corporations and companies are invested in CSR in the same areas. There are a great number of initiatives in place dedicated to the skilling sector. For example, the World Bank has cleared a USD 250-million loan for making over 8.8 million Indian youth more employable through re-skilling by 20233. This Skill India Mission Operation (SIMO) will increase the market relevance of short-term skill development programmes (3-12 months or up to 600 hours) at the national and state level. Under the programme, adults in 15-59 years of age, underemployed or unemployed, will get the skill training. The programme will benefit approximately 15,000 trainers and 3,000 assessors3.

However, the success of such initiatives depends on how aligned is each stakeholder.

Need for cross-sector collaboration for successfully addressing skill development issues

UnLtd India JP Morgan Skill development 2JPGAll stakeholders and partners should establish inclusive structures and create a unifying vision that will help manage power imbalances in a social and technology ecosystem that is constantly changing. Inclusive processes will help bridge differences and ensure that the young people are able to build long-term sustainable careers. Employers need to be an active part of the decision-making process on how the talent is being trained for jobs in their businesses or in their sector.

Carol Lake (M.D for Corporate Responsibility, International Markets, J.P. Morgan) in her opening remarks summarised cross-sector collaboration quite well, “Collaboration brings together sector experience, training experience, funding, networks and open roles to one approach thereby increasing the chances of success and collective learning. Collaboration is not always easy. It calls for a high degree of trust and transparency.”

One example of such collaboration is J.P. Morgan India has collaborated with CII and BSE Institute to set-up a training programme to equip college students with necessary work skills and make them meaningfully employed in the banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector upon graduation. BFSI is one of the high growth sectors in India and this joint initiative will focus on ensuring that India’s youth from underprivileged background have gainful employment through quality interventions across India. There are many similar examples where collaboration was the key to success.

While these initiatives are laudable, the scale of the task in front of us is indeed daunting. Skilling a country of a billion people is not an easy endeavour. If all stakeholders actively cooperate and collaborate, India will be able to capitalise on the great opportunity that skill development affords to make a real difference to the lives of countless people.


  1. The Hindu, Business Line, Top 10 sectors account for 80% of incremental HR requirements, says report, April 2015
  2. Kettl, Donald F. 2015. The Job of Government: Interweaving Public Functions and Private Hands. Public Administration Review 75(2): 219–29.
  3. The Times of India, Business, World Bank clears $250 million loan for Skill India mission, June 2017
  4. Business Standard, BSE Institute, CII, J.P. Morgan launch BFSI skilling programme, November 2016

Author: UnLtd India Team. The team can be reached at

The views expressed above belong to the author. NSN does not subscribe to the views and opinions expressed in the article.

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