[op-ed snap] ‘Skill India’ urgently needs reforms

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Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development & employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sharada Prasad Committee, Sector Skill Councils, Skill India, National Classification of Occupations 2015, National Skills Qualification Framework, National Sample Survey Office

Mains level: Various initiatives related to skill development and their impacts & shortcomings


Context

Reaping demographic dividend

  1. Salvaging the Indian demographic dividend must be a key part of India’s growth story (Good intro)
  2. In 2016, the Government of India formed the Sharada Prasad Committee to rationalise the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) and improve ‘Skill India’
  3. SSCs are employer bodies mostly promoted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Confederation of Indian Industry and other industry associations
  4. The committee submitted its report in 2016

Goals of Skill India

  1. To meet employers’ needs of skills
  2. To prepare workers (young and old) for a decent livelihood

Committee suggestions

  1. Each recommendation underlines that the vocational education/training (VET) is not just for underprivileged communities
  2. It is not a stopgap arrangement for those who cannot make it through formal education. It is for all of us
  3. It suggests concrete steps to ensure a mindset change, such as
  • having a separate stream for vocational education (in secondary education)
  • creating vocational schools and vocational colleges for upward mobility, and
  • having a Central university to award degrees and diplomas

What needs to be done for improving VET

  1. It requires a serious engagement of employers
  2. This can be done by aligning the courses to international requirements, ensuring a basic foundation in the 3Rs, and life-long learning
  3. It implies national standards for an in-demand skill set with national/global mobility that translates into better jobs
  4. We should have no more than 450 courses (Germany has only 340 courses) — in accordance with the National Classification of Occupations 2015
  5. National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) had recommended rationalization of qualification packs/job roles

Ethics and accountability issue

  1. There is a huge ethics and accountability issue if there is no credible assessment board and when there are too many sector skill councils, each trying to maximise their business
  2. The Sharada Prasad Committee had recommended that the number of SSCs should correspond to the National Industrial (Activity) Classification
  3. It has 21 economic activities across the entire economy

Policy steps that can be taken

  1. The first policy step should be towards a unification of the entire VET system
  • SSCs, which are supposedly industry representatives, should be engaging themselves with each pillar of the system, and not just NSDC-funded VTPs
  • ‘Skill India’ can have an impact only when all of them work together and learn from each other

2. The second step is to enhance employer ownership, responsibility and their ‘skin in the game’

  • Only 36% of India’s organized sector firms conduct in-firm training
  • There can be a reimbursable industry contribution model (applicable only to the organized sector)
  • It could ensure reimbursements for those companies undertaking training while rewarding industry for sharing and undertaking skilling until everyone in the company is skilled

3. The government should have surveys, once every five years, through the National Sample Survey Office, to collect data on skill providers and skill gaps by sector

  • Such data can guide evidence-based policy-making, as against the current approach of shooting in the dark

Way forward

  1. India can surely become the world’s skill capital but not with what it is doing right now
  2. The reforms suggested by the committee can be a good starting point for we cannot let another generation lose its dreams
Skilling India – Skill India Mission,PMKVY, NSDC, etc.
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