Skill India: More course options for traditional jobs on anvil

Soon, welders, cobblers and carpenters and several others will be able to choose from a range of courses to meet their educational and professional needs. The Budget proposal of skilling India for making the country’s youth more employable would have a national multi-skill programme called Skill India to be launched. Organisations in this space have already made preparation to meet the needs of people employed in traditional occupations.

Atul Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) said over 40 centres across 15 states offer skill courses in masonry and carpentry alone, and these two come under the construction sector which is a large informal sector. “New job roles are being created as we speak aligned to the National Occupation Standards to meet industry needs. That is where our Sector Skill Councils come into play,” he said.

NSDC has a 10-year plan which clearly shows the target to train 150 million people by 2022. He said during the past four years, NSDC has exceeded its targets every year. In 2013-14, their target was 1 million and they closed the year with 1.3 million. This year NSDC has set a target of 3.3 million, which Bhatnagar said they are very confident of achieving.

NSDC has developed a Skill Development Management System where data of all trainees is maintained. It helps in constantly monitoring and analysing the trends and progress of training partners across the country. Last fiscal we inducted 50 new partners, which translates to adding one every week. They will be adding 87 new partners in the current fiscal.

Officials from Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) also said they are geared up to meet the needs of the industry. The chief executive of a Mumbai-based ITI said there is certainly a dearth of programmes for individuals working in the unorganised sector.

“Computer training, engineering and sales/marketing are one of the most popular courses in ITIs. The real need is to get more such programmes for fields like weaving, blacksmith, among others where the skilling opportunities are limited. Hence, ITIs across the country are gearing up to provide these courses from next few months,” the official said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his Budget proposal said they are looking to skill the youth with an emphasis on employability and entrepreneur skills. According to him, they would also provide training and support for traditional professions like welders, carpenters, cobblers, masons, blacksmiths, weavers, etc, and convergence of various schemes to attain this objective is also proposed

While ITIs have historically contributed to the skill space, experts said they need to achieve skilling in line with what industry needs. “ITIs also need to improve the physical infrastructure, align their curriculum and modernise their course content through use of technology to meet industry standards and requirements. The focus has to shift to job roles and imparting practical skills rather than theory alone. There are interesting developments happening at state level,” said Bhatnagar.

He said the West Bengal government and NSDC are discussing the possibility of NSDC partners taking over 90 ITIs. NSDC partners will be investing in modernising these ITIs and the state will be providing financial support to people getting trained in these.  Similarly, they are also discussing a similar arrangement with the Madhya Pradesh government. “If these models are proven to work, then we can replicate this thought the country,” he said.

However, while government-backed institutions are working on this space, officials pointed that private sector participation is also needed. Himanshu Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder of employability solutions company Aspiring Minds said that the need for structured private enterprise participation in training, evaluation and job matching will go a long way in reaping the demographic dividend.

Self-employment is what the industry is looking for, especially with tie-ups from large private sector training institutes. The senior official of a skill development firm said that while large technology-based skill companies have been set up, they have stayed away from offering traditional skills since they are low-profile in nature.

A Deloitte analysis of the Budget proposals on education said the announcement of a focused skill development programme can help the nation in building a large trained manpower resource with the skill-set to pursue employment or entrepreneurial opportunities.

With a large majority of young population, the report said that if implemented successfully, India can also achieve its target of become a global manpower provider.