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Modi government needs to review the skilling agenda

Multiple problems have to be overcome if the country is to meet its ambitious target of skilling 500 million people by 2022. The Narendra Modi-led government can redefine the skill paradigm and they need to consult all partners.

Shamni Pande        Last Updated: May 16, 2014  | 18:27 IST
Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi

Multiple problems have to be overcome if the country is to meet its ambitious target of skilling 500 million people by 2022. "National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has become only a financing and monitoring institution, it is not playing any supportive role,"says Dr. Mukti Mishra, Chairman of Gram Tarang, a body that teaches vocational skills to youth in tribal and Naxal hit areas of Odisha and is funded by NSDC.

There are many layers to this problem and it begins with how bureaucratic controls are now kicking into the functioning of NSDC that was supposed to be an independent body. According to a CEO of a private company, the skill councils have to now depend on the various secretaries for the National Skill Qualification Certifications. The certification is necessary to avail benefits of the STAR Scheme, launched by the Congress-led government in August 2013, to give monetary compensation of up to Rs 10,000 to anyone who successfully completes skill training within one year.

To be sure, in the interim budget 2014, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had even allocated Rs 1000 crore to the Skill Development Trust towards the objective of training up to 10 lakh youth within a year from the launch of this scheme. However, this decision is likely to be reconsidered by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government.

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Stakeholders have been concerned about the manner of implementation of the STAR scheme and many other developments. "We have been asked to develop qualification pacts and evolve the skill standards that are necessary for each sector. Does everyone have the capability for that? Many are either buying the curriculum from some large players or are just copy pasting it," says Dr Mishra who is also the co-founder and President of Centurion University of Technology & Management, Odisha. He feels that the industry must introspect. "The Narendra Modi-led government can redefine the skill paradigm and they need to consult all partners. Certainly NSDC is a very good initiative, but it needs assistance in the way it has to reorient itself," he says.

S. Ramadorai, who holds dual charge as chairman of NSDA and NSDC, feels that focus must be on implementation and execution: "There is no need for creating further new structures. We should strengthen existing institutions and ensure that these work towards the intended goals," he says.

For a while now the skill development stakeholders and experts have also suggested the setting up of a ministry focused on imparting skills. But given that many ministries are tasked with the skill development objective, the setting up of one more body is only likely to obfuscate the agenda. "The most important agenda ahead should be actually job generation and the revival of manufacturing, construction, agriculture, IT-ITeS and other related services sectors," sums up Ramadorai.

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