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Strategy for New India at 75:Inclusion- Skill Development

  • On 15th August 2022, independent India will turn 75. In the lifespan of nations, India is still young. The best is surely yet to come. India’s youthful and aspirational population deserves a rapid transformation of the economy, which can deliver double-digit growth, jobs and prosperity to all.
  • The purpose of this, ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’, is to define clear objectives for 2022-23 in a  diverse range of 41 areas that recognize the progress already made; and challenges that remain; identify binding constraints in specific sectors; and suggest the way forward for achieving the stated objectives. 
  • The Strategy document has disaggregated the 41 sectors under four sections: drivers, infrastructure,  inclusion, and governance. 
  • The first section on drivers focuses on the engines of economic performance – in macroeconomic terms with chapters on growth and employment.
  • The section also discusses strategies for the doubling of farmers’ incomes; boosting Make in India; upgrading the science, technology and innovation ecosystem; and promoting sunrise sectors like fintech and tourism.
  • An annual rate of growth of 9 per cent by 2022-23 is essential for generating sufficient jobs and achieving prosperity for all. Four key steps, among others, have been spelled out for achieving this GDP growth rate. These are:

a. Increase the investment rate as measured by gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) from present 29 per cent to 36 per cent of GDP by 2022. About half of this increase must come from public investment which is slated to increase from 4 per cent to 7 per cent of GDP. Government savings have to move into positive territory. This sharp increase in the investment-to-GDP ratio will require significantly higher resource mobilization efforts as elaborated in the chapter on Growth.

b. In agriculture, emphasis must shift to converting farmers to ‘agripreneurs’ by further expanding e-National Agriculture Markets (e-NAMs) and replacing the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee  (APMC) Act with the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing (APLM) Act. The creation of a unified national market, a freer export regime and the abolition of the Essential Commodities Act are essential for boosting agricultural growth.

c. A strong push would be given to ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) techniques that reduce costs,  improve land quality and increase farmers’ incomes. This is a tested method for putting environmental carbon back into the land. Therefore, ZBNF allows India to significantly contribute to reducing the global carbon footprint.

d. To ensure maximum employment creation, codification of labour laws must be completed and a massive effort must be made to upscale apprenticeships.

  • The second section on infrastructure deals with the physical foundations of growth. A lot of progress has been made across all infrastructure sectors. This is crucial to enhancing the competitiveness of Indian business as also ensuring the citizens’ ease of living. Three key steps, among others, are:

a. Expediting the establishment of the Rail Development Authority (RDA), which is already approved. RDA  will advise or make informed decisions on an integrated, transparent and dynamic pricing mechanism for the railways. Investment in railways will be ramped up, including by monetising existing railway assets.

b. The share of freight transported by coastal shipping and inland waterways will be doubled. Initially,  viability gap funding will be provided until the infrastructure is fully developed. An IT-enabled platform would be developed for integrating different modes of transport and promoting multi-modal and digitised mobility.

c. With the completion of the Bharat Net programme in 2019, all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats will be digitally connected. In the next phase the last mile connectivity to the individual villages will be completed. The aim will be to deliver all government services at the state, district, and gram panchayat level digitally by  2022-23, thereby eliminating the digital divide.

  • The section on inclusion deals with the urgent task of investing in the capabilities of all of India’s citizens. The three themes in this section revolve around the various dimensions of health, education and mainstreaming of traditionally marginalized sections of the population. While there are multiple dimensions and pathways  contained in the chapters in this section, four key steps, among others, are:

a. Successfully implementing the Ayushman Bharat programme including the establishment of 150,000  health and wellness centres across the country, and rolling out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya  Abhiyaan.

b. Upgrading the quality of the school education system and skills, including the creation of a new innovation ecosystem at the ground level by establishing at least 10,000 Atal Tinkering Labs by 2020.

c. As already done in rural areas, affordable housing in urban areas will be given a huge push to improve workers’ living conditions and ensure equity while providing a strong impetus to economic growth.

d. Implementing strategies to achieve regional equity by focusing on the North-East region and successfully rolling out the Aspirational Districts Programme.

  • The final section on governance delves deep into how the tasks/business of government can be streamlined and reformed to achieve better outcomes. It involves a sharp focus on ensuring accountability and a shift to performance-based evaluation.
  • The government will revamp its data systems and analysis so that all policy interventions and decision-making are based on evidence and real-time data. This will yield efficient and

targeted delivery of services and justice to those who need them the most.

  • Three key steps, among others, are:

a. Implementing the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission as a prelude to appointing a successor for designing reforms in the changing context of emerging technologies and the growing complexity of the economy.

b. A new autonomous body, viz., the Arbitration Council of India, may be set up to grade arbitral institutions and accredit arbitrators to make the arbitration process cost-effective and speedy, and to pre-empt the need for court intervention.

c. The scope of the Swachh Bharat Mission may be expanded to cover initiatives for landfills, plastic waste and municipal waste and generating wealth from waste.

  • To achieve the goals of New India in 2022-23, it is important for the private sector, civil society and even individuals to draw up their own strategies to complement and supplement the steps the government intends to take. With the available tools of 21st-century technology, it should be possible to truly create a mass movement for development. With the Sankalp of all Indians, India will have Siddhi.

Check out our previous blogs on the Strategy for New India at 75:

Objectives

For harnessing the demographic advantage that it enjoys, India needs to build the capacity and

infrastructure for skilling/reskilling/up-skilling existing and new entrants to the labour force. The goals to be met until 2022-23 are as follows:

  • Increase the proportion of formally skilled labour from the current 5.4 percent of India’s workforce to at least 15 percent.
  • Ensure inclusivity and reduce divisions based on gender, location, organized/unorganized, etc.
  • India’s skill development infrastructure should be brought on par with global standards by:

O Developing internationally compliant National Occupation Standards (NOS) and the Qualification Packs (QP) that define a job role.

O Making all training compliant with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF).

o  Anticipating future skill needs to adapt skill

development courses.

  • Skill development should be made an integral part of the secondary school curriculum.

Current Situation

According to the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, more than

54 per cent of India’s population is below 25 years of age and 62 per cent of India’s population is aged between 15 and 59 years. This demographic dividend is expected to last for the next 25 years.

With most of the developed world experiencing an aging population, India has the opportunity to supply skilled labour globally and become the world’s skill capital. However, the demographic advantage might turn into a demographic disaster if the skills sets of both new entrants and the existing workforce do not match industry requirements. Recognizing the challenge, the Government of India has launched many initiatives to equip fresh entrants with relevant skills and to upgrade the skills of the existing workforce.

A dedicated Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) was set up in 2014 to

implement the National Skill Development Mission, which envisions skilling at scale with speed and standards. On July 15, 2015, on the first-ever World Youth Skills Day, the Honourable Prime Minister launched the Skill India scheme.

To improve the relevance and quality of courses offered by industrial training institutes (ITIs), polytechnics and private training providers, sector skill councils (SSCs) have been involved in

curriculum up-gradation/preparation, and in the assessment and certification process. Courses are being aligned to the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF). Recognition of prior learning (RPL) has been introduced to ensure certification of and bridge training for the existing workforce. The year-end review 2017 released by MSDE suggests that government initiatives are gathering pace. Until 2017, 2.5 crore candidates have been skilled under the ministry’s programmes since its inception. This includes 40.5 lakh candidates trained under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), and 74 lakh candidates under fee-based training

programmes run by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).

Constraints

  • The National Skill Development Policy estimates that only 5.4 per cent of the workforce in India has undergone formal skill training as compared to 68 per cent in the UK, 75 per cent in Germany and 96 per cent in South Korea.
  • The India Skill Report 2018 states that only 47 per cent of those coming out of higher educational institutions are employable.
  • Given that 83 per cent of the workforce is engaged in the unorganized sector with limited training facilities, upgrading of skills, both in the manufacturing and services sectors remains a challenge.
  • The major challenges to skill development are the following:
  • Mapping skill requirements sector-wise and geographically.
  • Making vocational training an aspirational choice.
  • Involving industry for improved quality and relevance – scaling up the apprenticeship programme.
  • Integrating the informal sector into the skill development ecosystem.
  • Putting in place an effective, internationally recognized assessment and certification system.

Way Forward

Mapping skill requirements for a demand-driven skill development ecosystem

  • Skill development plans and strategies should be developed by geography and sector by mapping the availability of infrastructure and on the basis of assessing skill requirements both at the national and state levels. Talukas/districts should be required to provide the information required for such mapping.
  • Industry stakeholders must be incentivized to provide data on their skill requirements on an ongoing basis, which could be used as input for the skill requirement assessment made at different levels.
  • Regular labour market studies should be conducted and published by the MSDE in collaboration with the SSCs. These studies should capture changes in industry requirements to assess the skill sets required and introduce changes in training curricula.
  • Create vocational training innovation centres for systematic research and conducting longitudinal studies on improving vocational education.

Improving training delivery and quality

  • Capacities of teacher training institutes need to be upgraded to ensure the availability of qualified trainers. It is also important to provide for cross-learning by teachers and industry experts through industry-institute linkages.
  • A single regulatory body with branches in all states should be set up to lay down minimum standards for all players in the skilling system like training providers, assessors, etc., and to issue NSQF aligned certificates.
  • To address the requirement of skilled workers in the unorganized sector, scaling up RPL is required under the PMKVY, using bridge training, apprenticeship, dual training, work-based learning and advanced courses.
  • In addition to scaling RPL, there should be a focus on the identification of transferable skills. This can be done by developing a skills/trade matrix; and highlighting the overlap of skills across different trades, such as information and communication technology (ICT), knowledge of languages, etc. The most common transferable skills across the board should be made part of the basic skill development curriculum.

Vocational education in secondary schools

  • As recommended by the Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Skill Development, vocational education may be initiated from class VIII. The report pointed out that lessons could be drawn from the “The Himachal Pradesh Payment of Skill Development Allowance to Educated Unemployed Persons Scheme, 2013.” This has provided for an allowance starting from INR 1,000 per month for students who have at least passed VIII standard. This will help children get acquainted with formal vocational courses and apprenticeship training. Provisions for credit transfers into higher education could also be considered.
  • Participation by private schools should be incentivized with lower interest rates on loans to expand training facilities.

Apprenticeship programmes

  • Active advocacy is needed to create awareness about recent amendments in the Apprenticeship Act, 1961, and about the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) among different stakeholders.
  • The claim process for reimbursement, through which companies get appropriate refunds for funds spent on stipends under the NAPS, needs to be streamlined.
  • Facilitate the integration of the micro, small & medium enterprises (MSME) sector into the apprenticeship system by linking it to the MUDRA scheme.

Skilling

  • Mainstreaming skill development with education through a system for academic equivalence to ITI’s qualifications. This would provide ITI candidates the option to attain academic qualifications as well.
  • An Overseas Employment Promotion Agency should be set up at the national level under the Ministry of External Affairs. Apart from working with the MSDE to train and certify Indian workers keen on overseas employment, in line with international standards, it could also support pre-departure orientation training (PDOT), including language and soft skills training modules. This agency could help in identifying potential partners and streamlining the efforts of Indian international skill centers.
  • Publicize role models/micro-entrepreneurs who have benefitted from vocational training courses.

Funding

  • Alternative financial sources such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds, Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) funds, Building & Construction Workers’ Cess, Members of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD)Fund, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), etc., should be tapped to expand the skill programme and contribute to the national skill development fund.

Strengthening SSCs

  • SSCs should be clustered and based on occupations/functions with respect to job standards/QPs across domains. New technologies could also be considered as a criterion for clustering. This would ensure convergence in the efforts of different SSCs.
  • It is recommended that job roles of SSCs having horizontal applicability across sectors should be integrated and customized to a sector’s requirements.

Monitoring and evaluation

  • Since skilling is dynamic, it is necessary to monitor programmes regularly. Hence, it is necessary to develop state-level indicators, such as placement rates, which help to monitor whether demand requirements are being addressed, and the impact of various government schemes.
  • NSDC may get into partnerships with private jobs counseling agencies for helping newly skilled persons with soft skills and adapting to local conditions.