While the population of several of the world’s leading economies is ageing, India remains young and poised for growth. Our youth will propel growth not only in India but also in the world for the next three decades. This is truly India’s golden sunrise, powered by skills, leading to economic growth and global leadership. But to realise our demographic destiny, we have to equip and continuously upgrade the skills of our working age population.
The journey of skilling India commenced in 2009 when the National Policy on Skill Development was formulated. The last five years have witnessed a period of intense planning and preparation towards achieving this mission. Skill missions have been set up at both the national and state levels, and in different sectors, to facilitate implementation on the ground. One strategy that we have consciously adopted in the skilling drive has been a willingness to tap all the capabilities and resources available in the country in a synergistic fashion. Even after such initiative, Indian youth is still facing the problem of unemployment and lack of proper skills. About 93 % of our workers are in the unorganised sectors, most being in the least developed regions in India. So we need a deeply penetrative effort that addresses the local needs and sensitivities. It is heartening to see a new generation of social entrepreneurs and NGOS already tackling this challenge, but we need more of it.
At present only 2.3% of India’s workforce has received some formal training. To address the issue, skill development has emerged as a priority sector, and the recently launched National Skill Development Mission aims to train approximately 400 million people across the country by 2022. To support the country’s vision, the World Bank has approved a US $250 million Skill India Mission Operation (SIMO) to help India’s growing young workforce acquire the-market relevant skills needed in today’s highly competitive job market. The operation will support the Government of India’s Skill India Initiative and attempt to address the dual challenges of ensuring greater access to training as well as providing quality training leading to employment. The programme will especially encourage the creation of skill development programmes for women, marginalised communities, tribals and people with disabilities to enable them to acquire the skills needed to enter today’s labour market.
Recently the government of India has launched several initiatives under the umbrella scheme of Skill India. These include ‘SANKALP’ (Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion), ‘STRIVE’ (Skill Strengthening and Industrial Value Enhancement), and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana among others. SANKALP and STRIVE are outcome focused schemes aimed at institutional reforms and improving quality and market relevance of skill development training programmes in long and short-term VET (Vocational Education and Training). They will address need for national architecture for promoting convergence ensuring effective governance and regulation of skill training in vocational training space. Whereas Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is a skill development initiative scheme for recognition and standardisation of skills. It has a target to train 1 crore Indian youth from 2016 to 2020, and it aims at encouraging aptitude towards employable skills and to increase working efficiency of probable and existing daily wage earners by giving monetary awards and rewards and by providing quality training to them.
The task of skill development in India is still engulfed with many challenges. These include increasing capacity and capability of existing system to ensure equitable access to all; promoting lifelong learning maintaining quality and relevance according to changing requirement particularly of emerging knowledge economy; creating institutional mechanism for research, development, quality assurance, examinations and certification, affiliation and accreditation; increasing participation of stakeholders, mobilising adequate investment for financing skill development, attaining sustainability by strengthening physical and intellectual resources; and creating effective convergence between school education, various skill development efforts of government and between government and private sector initiative. To track and ensure outcomes, the government has made it imperative for all skill development initiatives to adopt a data and metrics driven approach. Impact assessment studies are being conducted to assess the consequences of various initiatives and outcomes in most critical regions.
In summary, a wholehearted effort is on to Skill India on an unprecedented scale. With the concerted efforts of government bodies, industrial institutions, training partners and corporate house, one hopes to continue to scale to meet the aspirations of the youth of our nation and be the skill capital of the world. Technology will be a key enabler in all stages from mobilisation to governance. The success of this mission will, in no small measure, be a result of the innovative ways in which we can use technology for the common good and also how well we are able to implement and assess the performance of the schemes designed for skill development.