Thursday, 30 January 2014

Skilling India’s Youth for Better Employability: Policy Evaluation

Students being trained at ITI Gurgaon; Source:
During past nine years, the idea of skilling youth has attracted attentions both nationally and internationally and there has been a continuous large scale ongoing debate on this issue even in India along with transformation. The major driving force behind such transformation is actually rooted to the persistent rise of economic aspirations of different sections of the society, especially amongst its growing youths, who are seriously exposed to the challenges unemployment and opportunities. The untiring strive for collective efforts to improve the systemic delivery of services in skill training is rather very impressive.
As per Census 2011, India has 583 million of youth population aged between 10-35 years, out of which 398 million (68%) are in rural areas. About 68% of India’s population is below the age of 35 years, increased from 60% in 2001. The dropout rate for Classes I-X in school education is about 60% in 2007-08. The dropout rates for SC and ST students are even higher at 68% and 78% respectively. As per NSS data, in the age group of 15-29 years, the proportion of persons received formal and informal vocational training is very negligible at 2% and 8% respectively. There is also a huge mismatch between skills trained and needs of the market. In fact, the issues of employability become a major concern implying that the youth lacks not just generic skills but huge technical skills which market demands. This shows that our youth are in big trouble, who are neither in school nor in training institutions for skilling. This is a big threat to the much cherished window of demographic dividend. The United Progressive Government (UPA) has taken several meaningful policy measures to arrest this trend and improve the employability of youth.
There has been a paradigm shift since 11th Five Year Plan with regard to the public policies on skill development in India. An inclusive framework was devised involving subject experts, industries, civil society and international community through the Coordinated Action on Skill Development, which was created with a three tier institutional structure in 2008, including (i) Prime Minister’s National Council on Skill Development (PMNCSD) for overall policy directions, (ii) National Skill Development Coordination Board (NSDCB) under the Planning Commission for policy coordination among different stakeholders, and the (iii) National Skill Development Corporation under the Ministry of Finance in public private partnership mode to foster and catalyze the efforts of private sector involvements in skilling the youth in India.
Subsequently, the Government of India also announced the National Policy on Skill Development in 2009 with an objective to provide skill training to 500 million persons by the year 2022 when India become 75 year after Independence. This policy is the guiding document for the country as a whole and provides a very comprehensive set of innovative and radical policy measures for addressing the major challenges faced by the skill training sector in India. Besides, several measures for systemic and structural reforms, the Policy promotes greater Choice for trainees and Competition among training institutions with transparency and accountability. It also paves practical ways for skilling informal sector workers who constitute more than 94% of workforce.
Thus, both the Coordinated Action on Skill Development and the 2009 Policy played vital role for several innovative skill training schemes/programmes in the last 7-8 years initiated by both Central Ministries/Departments and State/UT governments. In fact, almost all the State/UT governments have established the State Skill Development Missions of their own with inclusive framework in order to bring necessary structural changes for improving employability of youth.
There are two major players in skilling the youth which are NSDC and Ministry of Labour & Employment. Till November 2013, the NSDC has partnered with 2,202 training institutes including mobile training centres and trained about 9.91 lakh persons, out of which they have placed 6 lakh persons (60.5%) since 2009. The Ministry of Labour through its Skill Development Initiative (SDI) Scheme based on Modular Employable Skills (MES) trained about 16 lakh persons since 2007-08.
However, in order to address the skilling issues to a greater extent by bringing systemic and structural reforms, the UPA government has set up a dedicated permanent institutional structure, namely the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) under the Ministry of Finance by subsuming the PMNCSD and NSDCB in 2013. The NSDA is an autonomous body and aims to coordinate and harmonize the skill development efforts of the Central and State Governments and the private sector to achieve the targets of skilling youth. Moreover, the NSDA has mandate to bridge the social, regional, gender and economic divide in skilling youth through ensuring the skilling needs of the disadvantaged and marginalized groups like SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, women and differently-abled persons. The NSDA has also been asked to take affirmative action as part of advocacy by the NSDA. The quality of training is something which the NSDA should address holistically by partnering with industry and civil society and by ensuring both supply and demand sides of the skilling youth. Such measures hopefully can help in addressing the challenges of skilling youth in India with better employability and future.


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