Kerala’s KASE for excellence in skill development


On the occasion of Nypunyam 2016, the unique International Skills Summit and Fiesta, hosted by KASE, we are privileged to share the Skill Story of Kerala with inputs from Mr. Harikrishnan Nair, COO, Kerala Academy of Skills Excellence (KASE). The initiatives and projects by KASE are exemplary to follow if our goal is to ensure sustained positive impact of skill development and enabling employability in India. Mr. Nair’s account also gives insights into how the Centers of Excellence (CoE) have helped them in strategic alignment with the industry and the training partners. Let’s look at the key milestones in Kerala’s journey so far.

Nypunyam as a strategic event

When KASE was incorporated as a not-for-profit company in March 2012, under the Department of Labour and Skills, Government of Kerala, we lost no time executing our vision. We studied skill development models in countries like Germany and UK and we explored how we can emulate some of these unique initiatives.

As a part of this, we conducted Nypunyam International Skills Summit in January 2014 which has a participation of around 400 delegates, over a period of 2 days. The response was overwhelming and we were able to garner proposals for setting up International Skill Academies as Centers of Excellence (CoE). And we received nearly 155 proposals under 20 sectors in some of the niche areas like High Tech Automation, Aviation, Oil and Rigs and general sectors like construction, nursing and so on.


Focus areas for skill enhancement through CoE model

The CoE model we follow is quite unique and are working on them as per the priority. Building up on the leads we got from Nypunyam, we have set up four CoEs in the last one-year.

Promoting entrepreneurship in Kerala and contribution to economic development in the state

We are partnering with with Entepreneurship Development Institute of Ahmedabad, and setting up a CoE in this area. The startup village concepts has evolved from here. However, at present we don’t have many heavy industries in Kerala that can create jobs in the manufacturing sector. That is one reason why people are migrating to other states or different parts of the world. However, there is a lot of focus on the service sectors. The IT or IT-enabled sector and human resources being one of the key strengths of the state, we believe such initiatives in entrepreneurship development will definitely help the youth in setting up new enterprises and create opportunities for Keralites to work here.


The International Skill Training and Employability Program (iSTEP) is a public-private initiative, launched with the objective of inviting youth for setting up centers of excellence, for accrediting training institutions running short term skill training programs.

How CoE model works through iSTEP

Our CoE model is perfect example of creating an ecosystem in collaboration with the industry, the training partners and the government. We facilitate this by providing the capital infrastructure and the industry is entrusted with the task of running the operations of the center. They prepare the curriculum, design the course structure, train the trainers, conduct the courses, carry out the assessments, provide certification and eventually ensure placement for the candidates. To streamline the entire process and to enable industry to set the CoE, we launched the iSTEP initiative as a single window mechanism to expedite the process.


In order to accredit skill training institutions in the state, we have an accreditation body, the Skill Initiatives Experts Group. Alongside, an academic council is being set up, to evaluate the credentials of these institutions and accord the accreditation status.

iSTEP and ITIs

Our objective to make ITIs students employable is also realized through iSTEP. In our pilot campaign at five ITI s in Kannur, Calicut, Ernakulam, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram, we want to equip the youth specific life skills and soft skills. Of late, we’ve started discussions with Engineering colleges as well to promote employability skills, technical skills and entrepreneurship.

Other initiatives

We are also trying to create awareness about the need for vocational education in schools and colleges through our Kaushal Kendra. Currently, we have two of them in the state, with four key components: a digital library, a language lab, a multi-skill center, and a career guidance council. Similarly we have tied up with the employment department, and launched employability centers, we have seven of them in the state, run by private HRD companies. In all of these programs we take the lead, collaborate with the private organizations, and they are the ones who run the operations. Their competence and experience will bring a lot of value to our youth.

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