A potted history of skilling in India

Kavitha, a young homemaker living in Ranipet in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, decided to infuse some life into her humdrum existence by learning a skill.

Through her social contacts, she learnt about a training programme offered by the Leather Sector Skill Council. On completion of the programme, the trainee would be given a financial award as well as a certification recognised by the Government of India. She has taken up the programme and is looking forward to working at any of the leather units in Ranipet. She sees multiple gains in this: Besides being able to augment her family’s income, she would be empowered as an individual. This is a glimpse of what Skill India Mission has set out to do.

To have a historical perspective about skilling in our country, since Independence, much importance was accorded to formal education and as a result, large amounts of money were spent on establishing centres of higher learning across the country.

Industries too failed to recognise the necessary standardisation required to keep up with the skill requirements of the growing market. While 90% of the workforce in the other developed countries is vocationally qualified, in India, only 5-7% of the workforce is.

Most skills acquired by workers had been through an informal training system. Efforts in establishing Industrial Training Institute-based courses leading to industry-relevant certification did not receive due recognition. By the 1990s, it was clear that there was a huge gap in formal training programmes planned for the service sector; and, significant shortfall in skilling and re-skilling for productivity improvement in the agriculture, manufacturing and construction sectors.

As many of the jobs in these sectors were in the informal sector, the training was short term or ad hoc in nature. Poor quality training, lack of standardisation of content or certification and non- alignment to industry needs were some of the stumbling blocks.

Recognising the huge lacunae in the skilled workforce and its effect on economy, in 2007, the Modular Employable Scheme (MES) under the Ministry of Labour and Employment was introduced.

Training, assessment and certification of school dropouts and the existing workforce who had acquired proficiency through informal means were carried out under MES.

Around 1400 courses across 65 sectors were designed and deployed with the support of vocational training partners. Once a participant completed and passed the training programme, the fee was reimbursed. This mission was in line with the needs of capacity building of the large majority of the workforce but the desired outcome could not be derived as a number of many ecosystem-related issues had to be addressed.

Following this, the Government of India set up National Skill Development Corporation as a Public Private Partnership initiative. NSDC set about creating an ecosystem for skilling.

The establishment of the new ministry, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) has given fillip to the skilling industry. Learning from past experiences, the Ministry has launched a series of programmes for skill training and certification for youth.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2021 1:46:55 AM |

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