As part of a focussed initiative to enhance the employability of educated youth in Kerala, the State Budget for 2012-13 has announced the institution of an Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP) and an Additional Skill Enhancement Programme (ASEP) to provide vocational skills to students in schools and colleges.

The budget has earmarked Rs.30 crore for ASAP and ASEP, which the speech describes as “dream projects.” Students in higher secondary and degree courses signing up for the ASAP can choose a vocational course in tune with their aptitude. The government will ensure that these courses have the acceptance/accreditation from the industry and allied associations.

The advantage for students of degree courses is that they can pass out with a double degree; one in their regular course of study and one, in the vocational subject.

The ASEP is for those who have already completed their school/college education, but wish to go in for skill upgrade. Both these programmes will be rolled out in government schools and colleges this year itself.

The ASEP will be implemented through the State's employment exchanges. This, the budget speech notes, will transform these exchanges from being mere registries of names to centres of youth empowerment. The ASEP is also expected to indirectly benefit the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the State — the training programmes of ASEP are scheduled to be held in at least one ITI in a district. The programmes will be implemented in collaboration with the National Skill Development Corporation.

Finance Minister K.M. Mani has declared 2012-13 and the ‘Year of the Entrepreneur' in Kerala.