[op-ed snap] Rebooting the system for a skills upgrade

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Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development & employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: State of skill development institutes in the country and what can be done to improve quality


Context

Poor state of ITIs

  1. Private Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) are running in small shops, basements, tin sheds and even godowns in the country
  2. These facts come from the report of the Standing Committee on Labour (2017-18), on the “Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Skill Development Initiative Scheme” of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE)
  3. It was submitted to Parliament few months ago

Disproportionate rise in the number of ITIs

  1. The ITIs were initiated in the 1950s
  2. In a span of 60 years, until 2007, around 1,896 public and 2,000 private ITIs were set up
  3. But in a 10-year period from 2007, more than 9,000 additional private ITIs were accredited
  4. This rise is not efficiency but a disregard for norms and standards

What has this led to?

  1. Private sector engagement in skill development has been taken up by standalone private training partners and not employers
  2. The latter could have made the system demand-driven
  3. The lack of a regulator for skill development, with teeth, has led to poor quality affiliation, assessment and certification

How did this malfunctioning start?

  1. It was due to instances of responsibility outsourcing, no oversight, connivance and an ownership tussle between the Central and State governments
  2. Private-ITI accreditation troubles started when the Quality Council of India (QCI), a private body, was hired due to “high workload of affiliation and shortage of government staff
  3. The QCI did not follow accreditation norms created by the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) and it appears that neither scale nor standard was achieved, but only speed

Centre-state jointly handling ITIs

  1. The ITIs have a unique functioning set-up. While they were formed under the government’s Craftsman Training Scheme, their day-to-day administration, finances and admissions are with State governments
  2. The NCVT performs an advisory role
  3. The ITIs often run into issues with no one to take ownership

How to improve the standards in ITIs

  1. A good point to start would be the Sharda Prasad Committee recommendations
  2. A better oversight is needed, with a national board for all skill development programmes
  3. The core work (accreditation, assessment, certification and course standards) cannot be outsourced
  4. Like every other education board (such as the CBSE), a board is required in vocational training that is accountable
  5. There should be a mandatory rating system for the ITIs that is published periodically
  6. A ranking of the ITIs on several parameters such as the one done by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council in tertiary education can be replicated
  7. There should be one system, with one law and one national vocational education and training system

Micro reforms needed in ITIs

  1. There is a critical need to reskill ITI teachers and maintain the student-teacher ratio
  2. Since technology obsolescence is a continuous challenge, financial support envisaged through the NSDC should be extended to the ITIs
  3. Institutional reforms such as moving the office of the Directorate General of Employment (the arm that has all data on employment) from the Ministry of Labour to the MSDE would help
  4. It would also complement the Directorate General of Training already under MSDE

Need for RIC

  1. Given the scale of our demographic challenge, a belief that financing from corporate social responsibility, multilateral organisations such as the World Bank, and the government will meet the financial needs for skill development is wishful thinking
  2. The only way to mobilise adequate resources the right way is to do skills training, and have equipment and tools that keep pace with changing needs and ensure that employers have skin in the game
  3. This is possible through a reimbursable industry contribution (RIC) — a 1-2% payroll tax that will be reimbursed when employers train using public/private infrastructure and provide data
  4. RIC, which is implemented in 62 other countries, was recommended in the 12th Plan

Way Forward

  1. The silos in which vocational training happens in India is unfortunate
  2. We need to create a unified national vocational system where the ITIs, NSDC private vocational trainers and vocational education in schools, and the other Central ministries conducting training gel seamlessly and can learn from, and work with each other
Skilling India – Skill India Mission,PMKVY, NSDC, etc.
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