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Skilling India a novel idea, but it faces massive challenges

The key will be the ability to mobilise the right students; students who want to make a career in the field they pursued during their undergraduate studies.

T Muralidharan        Last Updated: July 23, 2015  | 18:12 IST

T Muralidharan is Chairman, Talent Managers for Indians (TMI)
The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), launched on 15 July 2015, is a much-improved scheme compared to the Standard Training Assessment and Reward (STAR) launched in August 2013. When STAR was launched, things were done in haste; National Occupational Standards (NOS) and Qualification Packs (QPs) were created within a short span of time; Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) were in various stages of evolution and so was the assessment system.

Now, since all the ground work is in place and fully functional, the PMKVY is expected to produce more transparent and verifiable outcomes. If this has to happen, the key will be the ability to mobilise the right students; students who want to make a career in the field they pursued during their undergraduate studies.

Having said that, there are certain challenges associated with this scheme too and they need to be addressed if PMKVY has to succeed:

Challenge 1: Trained in one role, placed in another

In the past, people got assessed and certified in one particular job role and ended up being placed in a completely different job.

Challenge 2: Trained in one role, but do not land a job

Training is not aligned to the demand, which means we train a lot of people in certain job roles but there is no demand for these trained people.
 
Challenge 3: Training location vs job location

A lot of people get trained and placed, but leave within a short period because the cost of living in the location they are posted is too high. This occurs because training is conducted on the basis of the availability of students. The jobs are in some other location, but students cannot afford to migrate.

The SSCs have to manage all the three challenges given above. They have to allocate in such a way that there is a demand for those roles in areas contiguous to the candidate home towns and monitor the outcomes. In the PMKVY, the SSCs are allotted quarterly targets and hence, the ministry of skills and NSDC can monitor the training partner and SSC performance in a timely manner, thanks to the monitoring software of NSDC.

Challenge 4:Lower payouts for training

The PMKVY training fee is rationalised and differentiated better this time with higher fees for technical job roles. In addition, the training fee has been reduced compared to STAR and therefore, to conduct effective training, there has to be a part contribution from the student or the employer. This, I think is a good development. Quality of the training programme will improve as soon as part of the fee is collected from either the employer or the student 

Challenge 5: Student pay outs

The PMKVY requires student to pay the entire fees - including assessment fees - and get it reimbursed based on assessment success. This is going to be a tough concept to sell to the students without a job in sight. If the training provider takes the risk by providing credit he may not recover the cost. Hence, training partners with job linkages may have an advantage.

Challenge 6: Franchising

The training providers may franchise out the entire training without controls leading to sub-standard training.

The lower fee pay out mentioned earlier will result in lower pay out to franchises. This can either be a deterrent to franchising or lead to excessive assessment fraud. In the PMKVY, a lot more emphasis will be on the quality of training with independent auditors visiting the training venue and any large scale assessment fraud is unlikely.

Challenge 7: Focus on school dropouts

One of the ground realities in India is that more than 10 million graduates are either willingly unemployed or are desperately seeking a job that meets their impossible expectations. On the other hand, most of the school drop outs are working as unskilled labour and are hence employed.

The PMKVY will focus more on school dropouts, which I feel requires a review. The graduates need training and job counselling and are currently very frustrated. The weightage must be equal between graduates and school dropouts.

Challenge 8: Mobilisation support from government

If the end result of training is gainful employment, then we must acknowledge that "any one cannot do any job". Each job requires some unique personality attributes and attitude and hence, pre-assessment is required before training. This is a common practice in private sector. But PMKVY has not prescribed any pre-assessment guidelines. In addition, the government mobilisation focuses more on youth aspirations rather than basic fitment. This could lead to a lot of training being given to the wrong candidates.

The training partner should mobilise and pre-assess the candidate for suitability to absorb the course and excel in the trade for which the training is provided.

In conclusion, the key to the success of the PMKVY is how targets will be allotted to SSCs and how SSCs, in turn, will allocate to training partners and what systems will be put in place to monitor the training. It also depends on the whole hearted participation of the training partners, which will only happen if the quota allotments are transparent and the payments are on time.


 The author is Chairman, Talent Managers for Indians

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