The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has implemented many national schemes to skill the youth and prepare them for employment and enhance their employability. How are these programs impacting the evolving ecosystem of vocational education in India? To seek a nuanced perspective, we spoke to Ms. Sunita Sanghi, Senior Adviser, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India to latest updates and insights, particularly the awareness about the link between education and labour market and economy among the stakeholders. Let’s read on…
Q: On the occasion on Independence Day, what is your message to our audience on the importance of skills and knowledge for being free, independent and empowered?
A: Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development for any country. Countries with appropriately skilled manpower adjust more effectively to the challenges and opportunities of the world of work. India is a young nation with nearly 18% of India’s population in the youth cohort of 15-24 years and a larger 28% in the dependent age cohort of 0-14 years, who will form a major chunk of the new entrants to the labour market by 2024. With a large youth bulge India has an opportunity to be skill capital of the world and supply skilled manpower to the ageing economies. .
However, the idea of skill should not be restricted to training for one particular job, it needs to focus on multi-skilling. There is need to widen our understanding of skills, it is something everyone needs to learn from a house maker to a CEO. The skill training empowers the recipient and improves their employability, living standards and help improving their productivity. This would facilitate achievement of goal of inclusive and sustainable growth
Q: Over the years, we have missed connecting education with employment and economy by bringing in the labour market etc. Now with MSDE, a beginning has been made through skilling and entrepreneurship – how do you foresee policy level changes being implemented? What are the challenges and achievements?
India’s education system has witnessed a clear demarcation between formal academic education and the vocational education. Education imparted in the classroom was not always linked with the skill sets required to perform a job at the work place. The existence of multiple players, diversity and heterogeneity at spatial, gender and sectoral level has posed challenges for a quality led standardised training.
The formation of dedicated Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in 2014 has brought a paradigm shift in bringing about change in the fragmented skill development ecosystem. There is a shift from input based to outcome based skill training through implementation of National Skills Qualification Framework(NSQF). India is learning from the successful global models of skill education, including the Germany, UK, Australia, and European Union. The settings up of industry led sector skill councils have paved way for better connect between the world of work and training. The National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, clearly outlines the objectives of skilling in terms of creating demand for skilling; correcting and aligning skilling with required competencies; connecting supply skilled manpower with sectoral demand; certifying to align to global /common standards and catalysing entrepreneurship.
A few policy level achievements since inception of the Ministry includes:
- Common cost norms have allowed to harmonise the expenditure on skill development across various government schemes with clearly laid out input factors and has also linked training and pay-outs with outcomes.
- National Skill Development Mission has provided for a structure to converge various skilling initiatives
- National Skill Qualification Framework, notified in 2013, brought about a unified competency based qualification framework and facilitated in improving quality of training in the skill ecosystem.
- National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme has ensured better industry connects and makes trainee industry ready. The scheme offers provisions for incentivisation of both employees and employers.
- A Number of initiatives have been taken to revitalise ITIs viz. upgrading their curriculum (in collaboration with industry experts), strengthening industry linkages, grading and ranking of ITIs, scaling up apprenticeships, modernising equipment and facilities within ITIs etc.
- In a country where large proportion of people are working in the informal sector an initiative has been launched to recognize informal skills of those youth who do not possess formal certification through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). This enhances their employability.
There are still a few areas which needs to be addressed such as the issue of mapping youths aspirations, skill wage premium, trainer quality, counselling of candidates and employment linkages. Ministry is actively working towards these issues and hoping to further improve the quality and outcome of skill training.
Given the diversity and heterogeneity in the country there is need to make skill plan at the decentralised level so as to address the demand of the local economy. This necessitates mapping the aspirations of the youth and integrating with the mapping of skill demand and supply for sustainable skill development. Beginning has already been made!
Q: The importance of skills is being advocated in many ways and we are able to see the impact as well. However, as long as we propose skilling as a solution to something good for the dropouts and not-so-privileged students, don’t you think it is difficult to make it aspirational? Please share your views.
A: In India large proportion of those entering the labour market have low level of skills and education. As a result they are largely employed in the unorganised and informal sector with poor wage levels and working conditions. For better employability in changing technological environment it is necessary to skill those entering the labour market whether dropouts or not so privileged or those in the better quality job. The up skilling, reskilling and skilling is very important. Therefore, Skill training can never be limited to certain sections of the society.
The government has launched PMKVY program to address the market failures where the cost element prohibits people from vulnerable/marginalised sections of society to join the training program and enhance their employability due to lack of availability of resources. It allows us to improve the quality of our workforce who are employed in the informal and unorganised sector.
There is a parallel fee-based ecosystem which provides training on wider variety of skill sets and in various models of industry engagement, where you will find graduates and privileged students going to acquire the skill sets to make them employable.
The aspiration quotient of skill training is linked to a different set of factors such as skill wage premium, quality of employment opportunities available in the sector and how does the society perceive skill training. We are trying to tackle such factors to improve the aspirational value of skills by providing them with progression pathways into higher education, global certification and employment opportunities and platform to showcase their skill sets. There are advocacy programmes launched through Kaushal and Rojgar melas to counsel the students as also their parents.
Q: Apprenticeship is one of the ways to make skill-based learning attractive both for the industry and students (academia too). What are the plans from MSDE for counselling parents, students and other stakeholders for NAPS? Our research says there is a need to create more awareness to make it a success.
A: Apprenticeship is a time tested method to impart skills where the employer gets workers and the apprentice learns the skillsets. There is need to create awareness among employers and other stakeholders about the recent reforms in apprenticeship which has made it easier for the employers and more beneficial for the candidates as well. A user-friendly online portal (www.apprenticeship.gov.in) has been launched to facilitate the easy processing of entire apprenticeship cycle and for effective administration and monitoring of the scheme. The portal provides end to end service for the employer from registration and mentioning vacancy to submitting claims, and for the apprentice from registration to receiving and accepting offer letters online.
Efforts are on to integrate apprenticeship with other skill training program such as PMKVY and educational programs such as B.Voc. Degree to enhance the delivery of apprenticeship programs and also create the necessary awareness among the students and their parents. In a recently concluded World Youth Skills Day at Bhubaneswar in July 2018 to Generate awareness about the offerings of the Skill India Mission and to motivate participants to avail the opportunities, a component of counselling was introduced for mapping interest (psychometric test); mapping job roles with profile of the candidates and followed with more specific face to face guidance sessions on the mapped job roles using the instructors from PMKVY/PMKK and ITI ecosystem .
Q: New jobs need new skills and the future is already here! Are there initiatives for re-skilling, particularly at the mid-level and entry level where technology can replace a job role. How do we ensure employability through continuous skilling?
A: Industry 4.0 and the future of skills are topics which are at the focus of discussions at MSDE. We are actively working towards introduction of new job roles to respond to the ever changing employment landscape and are actively working with various stakeholders such as industry associations viz. FICCI, NASSCOM and other Ministries such as MeitY to ensure our preparedness to response to the new skill set required in the labour market. While, there are a few jobs which may disappear but there will be various new jobs which will be created and for many job roles processes would change. Discussions are held with the industry to create an industry supported model for re-skilling and continuous skilling in sectors which are expected to be affected by such changes.
Q: Making skill-based jobs aspirational – what are the ways MSDE would ensure that institutions like ITIs get modern facilities etc and on the industry front is there a way to ensure that the industry, particularly, MSMEs hire skilled workforce and make the workplace attractive to control attrition.
A: MSDE has taken initiatives to modernise government ITIs and released new accreditation and affiliation norms for ITI affiliation to ensure that the ITI infrastructure, equipment and facilities are as per the industry requirement. Moreover, Institute Management Committee (IMC) have been formed for most government ITI with representative of local industries to ensure an interface with the local industries.
Most of these ITI with IMC’s have not only actively engaged with for providing better employment opportunities for students but have also arranged for projects for students where the ITI was able to earn profit by catering to industry requirements.
The World Skills day was inaugurated at Bhubaneswar by the Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan to introduce counselling for people in the skill development areas.
In addition to the above initiatives, MSDE through DGT has under taken the first ever initiative to grade over 5 thousand ITIs on various parameters ranging from infrastructure to employment linkages. The results of the first round of ITI grading have been released recently and will allow us to identify the quality differential existing in government and private ITIs.