Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development of a country. In rapidly growing economies like India with a vast and ever-increasing population, the problem is two-fold. On one hand, there is a severe paucity of highly-trained, quality labour, while on the other; large sections of the population possess little or no job skills.
As the Indian economy continues to transform and mature, large scale sectoral shifts in the working population are inevitable, particularly from agriculture to other sectors of the economy. These sectors, however, require significantly different and often specialist skill sets, which require training and skill development. This skill gap needs to be addressed through comprehensive efforts, at various levels and catering to different needs of the society and industry.
Skill development can be viewed as an instrument to improve the effectiveness and contribution of labor to the overall production. It is as an important ingredient to push the production possibility frontier outward and to take growth rate of the economy to a higher trajectory. Skill building could also be seen as an instrument to empower the individual and improve his/her social acceptance or value.
Youth energy needs proper reshaping to make it constructive. If not it may destructive in few cases. Government of India decided in May 2008 for coordinated action for skill development and to set-up a national skill development corporation. A national council was constituted on skill development under the chairmanship of prime minister.
Further the Ministry of Labour and employment formulated a National Policy on skill development in 2009. The policy aims to create a workforce empowered with improved skills, knowledge and internationally recognized qualifications. So that workforce can gain access to decent employment and ensure India’s competitiveness in dynamic Global Labour market.
The council meets periodically to achieve the mandate on skill development. This aims to create 500 million skilled people by 2020. It is planned that Skill development system would be designed for high inclusivity. The system must be dynamic and self- healing.
India is a youthful nation. The United Nations defines youth as people between ages 15 and 24. On this scale, India has approximately 240 million youth. The median age in India is 25, meaning that half the population is below 25 and half is above it.
It was envisioned that rigid boundaries between categories of education e.g. diploma and degree has created a structure of rigid “caste system” within education. This must be transformed into a more open/flexible system that permits competent individuals to accumulate their knowledge and skills.
Planning commission conceived setting up of 50000 Skill Development centers over the plan period. An alternative model could be to make available to public institution above the high school level, after class hours for skill development. ITIs, Employment Exchanges, Employment Officers etc are controlled by States. States must be incentivized to set-up missions that do not undertake delivery but as an aggregator and aligner of skill efforts.
The Finance Minister announced the formation of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in the Budget Speech (2008-09): “There is a compelling need to launch a world class skill development programme in Mission mode that will address the challenge of imparting the skills required by a growing economy. Both the structure and the leadership of the Mission must be such that the programme can be scaled up quickly to cover the whole country.”
NSDC is a first-of-its-kind Public-Private Partnership in India. It facilitates skill development. It acts as a catalyst by providing funding to enterprises, companies and organisations that provide skill training. It also develops appropriate models to enhance, support, and coordinate private sector initiatives.
In 2004-05, the total employment in the country was estimated at 459.1 million out of which 56.8 percent of workforce belonged to self employment, 28.9 percent to casual labor, and 14.3 percent to regular wages. About 8 percent of the total work force in India is employed in the organized sector, while the remaining 92 percent are in the non-formal sector. Employment needs to be generated in all the sectors, namely primary, secondary, and territory.
Self employment and small business continue to play a vital role in employment generation. It is, therefore, necessary to promote main employment generation activities like (a) agriculture, (b) labor intensive manufacturing sector such as food processing, leather products, textiles (c) services sectors: trade, restaurants and hotels, tourism, construction and information technology and (d) small and medium enterprises.
Innovative schemes to promote skill development like “Skill Development Initiative” (SDI), Kaushal Vikas Yojana (KVY) for setting up Industrial Training Institutes and Skill Development Centers in uncovered areas and skill development plan for districts affected by Left Wing Extremism, would help.
In order to strengthen skill development initiative in the country, the Budget for 2012-13 has doubled allocation under the National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and launched a credit guarantee fund for skills development. Rs 1, 000 crore has been infused into NSDF raising the corpus of the fund to Rs 2,500 crore.
Among states Gujarat skill development mission is doing good job. CM Modi compared his latest budget for Gujarat with the Union budget for 2013-14 to emphasise his thrust on development and jobs.“Indian government allocated Rs.1,000 crore for skill development for the entire country, whereas Gujarat being a small state has allocated Rs.800 crore. This will help you to gauge our commitment towards youth and skill development,” he commented
Productive employment is a basic individual right. It not only provides a wage but is also an expression of self-fulfilment and dignity. Skill development approach and planning are in right direction. But progress is disappointing. Still many State Missions are not fully functional. Budget comparison of India and Gujarat for 2012-13 on skill development speaks a lot. It proves non seriousness on the part of government of India.
Heera Lal (Views are personal and based different sources)