‘Skill building’ and ‘knowledge’ are quintessential for economic growth of any country in today’s world. More so for a country like India where 13 million youth are estimated to enter the job market annually. There is another reason too which makes ‘skill building’ an imperative for the growth of country’s economy. While the labor force in the industrialized world is expected to decline by 4%, in our country it will increase by 32% in 20 years time. This is an indicator that India is poised to become a hub for skilled labor force. Skill development is, therefore, an urgent priority for the government. Taking into account the estimated requirement of skilled manpower in future the government has set a target of creating 500 million strong skilled manpower by 2022.
The challenge is huge considering that so far only 4.69 per cent of total work force in India has received any formal skill training. This is much lower than even some of the developing countries and far behind the developed nations where the percentage of skilled manpower ranges from 52 per cent in USA to as high as 96 per cent in South Korea.
In order to develop a robust policy framework and programme of action for scaling and speeding up skill development efforts, NDA Government set up a separate Ministry of Skill development and Entrepreneurship in December 2014.
In addition, to fast track and upgrade existing skill development programmes, several new schemes have been initiated with timelines for achieving the set targets.
An ambitious skill development programme Pradhan Mantri Kaushal VikasYojana was initiated in 2015.. Later PMKVY was approved for another four years on 2nd of October last year with a target to skill ten million youth with greater focus on improving placement opportunities through high quality training . Under this Scheme, Training and Assessment fees are fully borne by the Government. The scheme being implemented through the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) envisages linking aptitude, aspiration, and knowledge of the skilled workforce it creates with employment opportunities and demands in the market.
Another scheme Pradhan Mantri YUVA Yojana was launched in November last year which is being implemented in association with Wadhwani Operating Foundation as its Knowledge Partner. On line Entrepreneurship Education will be provided to about 15 lakh students across the country through 3050 Project Institutes consisting of Institutions of Higher Learning; Schools; ITIs and Entrepreneurship Development Centres, both Government and Private. The Ministry would also provide financial assistance to these institutions for different activities under the Scheme. The five-year Scheme is expected to witness setting up of more than 23,000 enterprises that will create more than 2.30 lakh direct and indirect jobs in the country. The Scheme providing for financial assistance to both Government and Private Institutions would cover 84,000 students in the current fiscal.
Apprenticeship Training is considered to be one of the most efficient ways to develop skilled manpower . It provides for an industry led, practice oriented, effective and efficient mode of formal training. This is first of the kind scheme that offers financial incentives to employers. Under the scheme ,twenty five percent of the prescribed stipend payable to an apprentice would be reimbursed to the employers directly by the center. 50 Lakh apprentices are expected to be trained by 2019-20 under this initiative by working pro-actively with the industry including MSME.
It was in the 1950’s that Industrial Training Institutes were established under the Craftsman Training Scheme by the Centre for imparting skills in various vocational trades to meet the manpower requirements for technology and industrial growth of the country. In the period 2014 to 2017 , 3342 new ITIs have been set up increasing the seating capacity to 5,85,284. The ITI have helped lakhs of youth earn their livelihood through employment or starting their own work.
A scheme to up- grade Government ITIs into Model ITIs was initiated in December 2014 . The main objective was to develop a benchmark for industry oriented ITI which would serve as a model for other ITIs and would also raise dignity of ITI education. These Model ITIs were to establish links with the Industrial clusters in their vicinity to enable them to function as a solution provider to the cluster group.Gunjan Gautam who was trained motor vehicle mechanic in 2014 from Govt. Modal ITI Nalagarh District Solan, Himachal Pradesh is now a proprietor in dealership venture having branches at Hamirpur, Nadaun and Jawalaji in Himachal Pradesh and over 60 Mechanics/ Workers work under his establishment.
In all 25 ITI were identified for upgradation as model ITI.
With regard to a scheme for Up-gradation of 1396 Government ITIs through Public Private Partnership (PPP), a total of 1227 Govt. ITIs have been covered in 31 States and Union Territories .
Government has also initiated several other incentive driven schemes including awards for giving push to skilling in India to match international standards.
India is one of the youngest nations in the world. More than 62 per cent of its population is in the working age group of (15- 59 years), and more than 54 percent of its total population below 25 years of age. Its population in the 15- 59 age group is expected to expand over the next decade .This is in contrast to developed countries like USA, Europe and Japan where the average age would be in the range 45 to 49. As pointed out earlier. India could reap this demographic dividend in a big way but the challenge is to equip its workforce with employable skills and knowledge for the economic growth of our country.
*Author is a New Delhi based independent Journalist and writes regularly in Newspapers on social sector issues.Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.