Skilling India through impactful programs and powerful partnerships


Skill India mission has successfully crossed many milestones in positively impacting people with industry-relevant skills for employment or entrepreneurship, under the leadership of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) . In this context, we caught up with Mr. Rajesh Agrawal, Joint Secretary & CVO, MSDE, to learn more about the complex and intriguing journey of 4 years and the roadmap for the future. In this exclusive Skill Talk, Mr Agrawal takes us through key elements of how MSDE has consolidated its initiatives through many flagship programs and powerful partnerships.  Let’s read on….

Q: How is the Skill Development Policy put to practice effectively, with support from MSDE for matching speed with scale and soliciting private partnership?

A: There have been two Skill Policy documents issued by the Government in the last 10 years – the National Policy on Skill Development, 2009 (NSPD, 2009) and the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015 (NPSDE, 2015). The 2015 policy document is built on the experiences in skill development in the intervening years.

It sets out the agenda for “Skilling on a large Scale at Speed with high Standards and to promote a culture of innovation based entrepreneurship to ensure Sustainable livelihoods for all citizens in the country”

The policy also provides the framework for involvement of the private sector in Skill Development initiatives. This has meant development of primarily three kinds of PPP models based on grant payments towards training delivery, loan payments at subsidized rates for infrastructure creation and other non-financial partnership models.

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (2016-20), flagship skilling programme of MSDE is an example of grant payments towards training delivery. As on date, MSDE has provided quality training to more than 42 lakh candidates across 29 States and 6 Union Territories, mapping 33 sectors through 7800+ centres in PPP model.

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKKs) are prime examples of loan payments at subsidized rates for infrastructure creation. MSDE, through National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), has set up 452 visible and aspirational Model Training Centres as on date.

As far as non-financial partnership models are concerned, MSDE is currently helping large corporates, PSUs and Philanthropic Organisations through capacity building and technical support to help them understand and manoeuvre in the skills space. Need-based support is being provided to such partners across the skills value chain right from mobilisation, training facility set up, training of trainers, model curriculum content, assessment and certification.

Skilling India Programs Rajesh Agrawal IAS

Q: What is being done to strengthen the current training delivery/placement framework so that only serious organizations get to implement programs like PMKVY or set up multi-skilling centres like PMKK?

A: High quality programs provide a strong link between institutions and the needs of the labour market i.e., graduates are more likely to find suitable employment. Quality systems serve as a common reference to ensure consistency amongst different actors at all levels and focus on quality can be a key driver of reform.

MSDE has introduced detailed and mandatory affiliation and accreditation processes through SMART portal for the training partners and their centres. SMART is an assessment platform based on training infrastructure guidelines defined by Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) which allows a training centre to become affiliated and accredited to NSDC. To ensure quality training centres are also put under stringent inspection processes through smart and are categorised across 5 grades. The grades are used to prioritise the training allocation of training targets to the training centres. The module is also being used for concurrent evaluation of training centres

A focus on quality provides accountability measures that can be linked to funding and performance management in a skills system. MSDE has also ensured this by linking the pay outs of the training providers to the placement percentage of trainings done by them.

Q: How do we ensure that the industry environment that gets introduced to students creates the right impression, in terms of work safety, hygiene etc since aspirational value around jobs gets built with the work environment, besides wages/salaries.

A: Adequate workplace familiarisation goes a long way in reducing attrition and increasing job satisfaction. The training module and curriculums thus designed aim to provide a meaningful mix of classroom teaching and practical skills. At the same time along with domain skills, platform skills such as financial, literacy and soft skills modules are being compulsorily integrated with the programs.

Pre-placement orientations, counselling, guest lectures, industry tie ups for experiential learning and exposure visits are some measures encouraged by MSDE to train the youth to become industry ready professionals. In addition to this, recruitment drives through the series of Job Fair/Rozgar Melas and the related recruitment processes give students industry exposure and the interactions held provide them real-time experience about the hiring process and methodologies.

Q: At present, most skilling programs depend on CSR and philanthropy budgets for funding, infrastructure and sustenance. How do you propose to build it as something that is a responsibility of every industry?

A: Skill development is the joint responsibility of the state and private sector partners, who should come on board to ensure the systematic involvement of the private sector in the development of occupational profiles and curricula, the training delivery, examinations, steering and financing of VET. Going forward, MSDE believes that the system will attract private players organically to invest into the system.

MSDE has been catalysing the efforts of various stakeholders towards building up a collaborative partnership towards skill development programs in the country. The skills space being relatively nascent in the country, the Government through MSDE is providing maximum seed support to attract more participants into the system through loans and grants.

National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), as an implementation and administrative arm of MSDE, functions to garner maximum private sector participation. Currently, NSDC operates through a network of 7800+ training centres, which have been set up by private agencies. MSDE has also forged partnerships with over 30 corporates and generated a corpus of over Rs. 160.80 crores.

Q: What are the plans from MSDE for promoting apprenticeships in SMEs and MSMEs in the backdrop of National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) to make skilling industry-driven?

A: The National Policy of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015 focuses on apprenticeship as one of the key components for creating skilled manpower in India. The policy proposes to work pro-actively with the industry including MSME to facilitate tenfold increase opportunities in the country by 2020.

To promote apprenticeship across all sectors, MSDE through industry conglomerates, promoter organisations such as FICCI, CII and the likes have been conducting workshops and conclaves with industry partners to promote the benefits of apprenticeship and apprising the industry about the ease of administration through online portals and relaxed punitive norms.

MSDE, through various forums, advocates for industry-driven and needs-based apprenticeship training programs through the network of MSME’s. MSDE also facilitates capacity building and awareness creation of such stakeholder to improve apprenticeship training. Going forwards, MSDE envisages a more system driven mechanism to be followed in the terms of apprenticeship, with greater leveraging of tools like LMIS.

Q: Please tell us about the equivalence plans for ITI students with bridge courses from NIOS and other initiatives that will bring vocational and mainstream education closer.

A: Youth with an ITI degree and a bridge course from NIOS, will have the flexibility to obtain degree and diploma program, thus also allowing them mobility between education and skills. In this regard, MSDE is also working on a pathways and credit framework to allow vertical and horizontal mobility to trainees in the STT ecosystem and with multiple entry exit points moving between vocational training and education

MSDE strives to promote diversity of training provision to meet the different needs of individuals and enterprises, to ensure high-quality standards, recognition-portability of competencies and qualifications within the National Quality Assurance Framework.

Q: What are your observations about the impact of the programs like PMKVY after they are made demand-driven rather than target-driven? What are the qualitative changes and how have the training partners responded to it?

A: To be truly responsive to market demand we must understand, not just the market need, but also what the market will actually be willing to pay for. This in the context of the skilling space, would result in understanding the exact skills to be imparted to the trainees that compels the industry to pay a premium for, while hiring him/her in comparison to an unskilled personnel. Quality of training has become priority and the emphasis is now on the right training for the right person at the right time from the perspective of the labor market. The training providers incur additional cost of training in ensuring this quality as per industry needs.

However, as the ecosystem evolves, the various stakeholders also adjust and align to the newer benchmarks. Training providers are also doing the same and there is a new zeal amongst them to enhance their performance through innovations and best practices to make their trainees better accepted in the industry.

Disclaimer: The content (text, pictures, videos, slideshows and audio) are provided and approved for publishing by the client who is featured in this article. National Skills Network – NSN is not responsible for any copyright or related issues with any such type of content.


  1. Pingback: Making skills aspirational through multiple pathways for higher education

  2. South Eastern Rural Development Organisation (SERDO), Sangaiyumpham part-ii Manipur India is a reputed organisation wants apply for the Skill India scheme. So if you can guide me for the program i will be very happy.

    Project Cordinator

Leave A Reply