Is ‘proof of work’ hindering the evidence of placements for PMKVY candidates? How do we resolve this issue for placements that are mostly in the informal or unorganized sector? In this guest article, Dr Avanish Kumar, Head – Skills and New Initiatives, GMR Varalakshmi Foundation, explores alternatives to strengthen PMKVY framework, flagship skill development scheme from the government of India.
Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), the flagship scheme for skilling from the government of India, launched in 2016 to train 10 million people by 2020 has been an elaborate exercise to transform the skilling landscape in the country. In the last two years, PMKVY has had significant achievements. There are as of now some 6000 plus centres under PMKVY across the country, with 22.40 lakh youth trained in around 250 plus job roles. Around 17.50 lakhs have been successfully certified and close to 8 lakhs have been placed (7.88 lakhs as of 3rd Aug, 2018). Out of 20.56 lakh trainees assessed, 18.19 lakhs passed the assessments. With a stellar 88% passing out rate, it speaks well of the training quality.
The other part of setting up the right processes has been more remarkable as it includes a robust system of accreditation, standardized curriculums, trained trainers, biometric attendance and quality assessments through third party.
PMKVY achievements at a glance; 6,000 plus training centres, 22.40 lakhs trained, 17.50 lakhs certified, 7.88 lakhs placed
The PMKVY placement conundrum
Insisting on ‘proofs of placement’ for candidates placed in unorganized blue collar jobs is hampering the actual picture of placement achieved in PMKVY scheme. There are alternatives which can verify such placements and thus helping both the training partner and the government in achieving their objectives.
The placement figure of around 8 lakhs is about 45% of the certified candidates. This itself may not look very promising, but here the other complexity also starts. In one of the recent notices from PMKVY, all the 6000 odd centres are classified into 5 categories – A to E depending on three criteria, the principal one being more than 70% placement by the centre. The catch begins here – what is to be counted as placement? While the training centre may have placed more than 70% of the candidates, for them to be counted as placement under the scheme, there are a certain set of documents to be uploaded as ‘proof of placement’. This is getting to be the Achilles heel of the govt skilling outcomes.
For an organization to claim that it is a valid placement, they have to submit an appointment letter from the employer (or at least an email from the official id), not possible always but manageable at times. Further, the training agency has to upload the monthly pay slips for at least 3 months for each placed candidate and even the bank statement of the candidate where it shows this salary credit!!
Informal jobs provide no formal proofs
Is it really, practically possible to get these placement proofs? The Economic Survey of India, 2018 reports that 87% of the firms in India are in informal sector, while another ILO report says that 81% of Indians work in informal sector. When the country has a very large informal economy, how a training organization with a centre in hinterland of India is supposed to find ‘organized’ employment.
Moreover, it is important to see the profile of the candidates who are getting trained and for what type of job profiles. They are mostly school and college drop out youth and are trained for 2-3 months for being an electrician, plumber or a retail executive, etc. They are mostly placed for blue collar jobs, which unfortunately in our country are mostly available in un-organized sector. These are informal jobs with no appointment letters, no salary slips, salary in cash, etc.
Here we have to come back again to the number of centres in the different categories – A to E, which because of the placement cut-off will have a large bearing on the scale and speed of skilling. Category A centres who have actually uploaded all the proofs as required by the scheme for proving placement are only 196!! Yes, only 3.2% of the total 6047 centres. In Category B, there are some 900 odd centres who have shown 70% placement and fulfill other two criteria but all the proofs are not uploaded. Even if half of these centres are able to find some ‘valid’ proofs, the cat A and B centres together be about 600 centres – i.e. only 10% of the total capacity created under PMKVY till now!
Are there any alternatives to proof of placements?
Is getting such proofs, the only way to ensure the sanctity of the placements? There can be other direct and indirect measures. A couple of them are suggested below:
- IVR Coverage: One method could be 100% coverage of all trainees placed, through IVR (interactive voice response) system, where they are checked about their placement status. A simple set of 5-6 questions can easily indicate their current status of employment. This can be very cheap with per placement tracking not costing even a couple of rupees.
- Through Employment Verification Agencies: Empanelling several employment/ recruitment verification agencies who use both conventional means as well as technology to verify employment is another means. Physical ‘geo-tagging’ and ‘time-stamping’ of candidates at their workplace can be practiced.
Thus, PMKVY and the Skill Mission has indeed tried to do many things right – by setting up the right processes to making trainees learn and perform better and has not been as dismal on placements as it may appear due to the near impossible means of verification it has set itself upon. A re-think of these can lead to better and actual show of outcomes already achieved by the Mission. It is possible to heal the Achilles heel at least in this case!
Disclaimer: An earlier version of this article was published on LinkedIn. The views expressed above belong to the author. NSN does not subscribe to the views and opinions expressed in the article.