Skill Development Minister Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy interviewed for future of Skill Development in India

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for skill development and entrepreneurship, Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy was interviewed by Education Times for skill development in India and skill ecosystem.

How would you define skill?
Skill is the acquired ability that increases the efficiency and performance of an individual while performing a defined task. Professionals from across fields require a broad range of skills in order to contribute to a modern economy. Professionals must skill, up-skill and re-skill themselves according to the needs of their job.

What is your focus — to train the existing workforce or create a new trained workforce?
Our approach for skill development in the country currently is multi-fold. It is imperative to skill fresh talent and upgrade and re-skill the existing workforce to the level of standards identified by industries. The National Skill Mission clearly defines our mandate to provide skill development to 40.2 crore people by the end of 2022.

The ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship (MSDE) has also identified that there are large numbers of people who are skilled in a particular area but do not have a formal recognition. To address this issue, we have launched the Recognition of Prior Learning Programme, which aims to access and certify people for their existing skills.

Are there enough jobs in the country to accommodate the new skilled workforce?
Certainly. We need a job ready workforce for national missions like the Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities, etc. We also need a workforce that is acquainted with model technology so we are not dependent on resources from international markets. We need to upgrade the skills of our workforce to match the needs of the technical expertise that we need.

We have mapped our standards with the standards of the United Kingdom and Australia. We will soon be signing a MoU with the United Arab Emirates on mutual recognition of the skill standards in the respective countries.

What kind of jobs does the Skill India campaign focus on?
Our focus is spread as per the geographical requirements across the country. This ensures that professionals get jobs that interest them and there is less need for migration. Similarly, we have studied the markets and the requirements of industries. Accordingly, our Sector Skill Councils identify sectoral needs. We have developed 1,661 qualification packs from which the youth can identify courses and get skilled.

Skill India initiatives focus on the priority sectors of the Make in India campaign which includes strategic manufacturing, automotive, constructions, infrastructure, food processing, textiles, tourism, wellness, etc.

We are also supporting the Digital India and Smart Cities campaigns by training the required workforce. By 2020, the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF), will become compulsory for a government job and will integrate vocational education, skill training, general education, technical education and the job market.

Which industry do you foresee a growth in?
According to a CII-KPMG report, India is the fastest growing services economy. The country has contributed 61% to the GDP. The IT-BPM industry, one of the largest employers in India with 3.7 million people, is also poised for a major growth and will touch $143 billion during the ongoing fiscal year. The other sectors that will enjoy growth are healthcare and tourism. Technology, innovation and creativity are rapidly redefining the global economy with digitisation collapsing distances and transcending borders.

We are also focusing on the manufacturing sector, an industry that presently contributes 10-12% to India’s GDP. If India envisions a double digit growth in the future, we ought to enhance the contribution of the manufacturing sector.

A number of qualified Indians settle overseas under the highly skilled migrants programme (HSMP) in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, etc. Does India lose its skilled workforce to other countries? What do you think can be done to stop this outflow of talent?
The Prime Minister has aimed to make India the skill capital of the world. He envisions India as the hub of skilled workforce towards which countries could turn to for their skills requirement. Moreover, employment in India would be limited. The demand for skilled youth in India will not surpass the supply, at least in the coming few years. We will soon be signing a MoU with the ministry of external affairs to train people for employment overseas, adhering to globally identified skill standards.

The HRD ministry recently agreed to make the two-year diploma courses at ITIs equivalent to a class XII certificate. When will this be implemented?
We are working with the MHRD to provide for a pathway for horizontal migration from skill development to general education. Some countries have provided for convergence among different education systems. One can reach the university level from post-secondary through junior colleges/centralized institutes, polytechnics or institutes of technical education (ITEs). We are working on a similar recognition to our courses in the ITIs. We had a meeting with AICTE in this regard as well, and are hopeful for some encouraging developments in the near future.

How do you plan to utilize the 2016 budget allotted for skill development?
As announced, we will create 1,500 multi-skill training institutes (MSTIs) which will be the new generation industrial training institutes (ITIs) set up in public-private partnership (PPP) mode. These will be set up in those blocks and districts of the country that are yet to focus on skill development.

To achieve our target of skilling one crore youth over the next three years under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), we are setting up model skill centres across more than 500 districts in the country.

The formation of the National Board for Skill Development Certification (NBSDC) is another big step in further strengthening the skill ecosystem. It will see representation from both, government and industry, which will collectively enable a joint framework for quality skill assessment.

Assessment processes in the country so far have been highly fragmented and varied. The NBSC will act as a one stop shop for examinations, assessments and awarding national-level certificates in compliance with National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) for skill development courses in the country. Thus, it is envisaged that the board will be an autonomous organisation with the mandate of ensuring that the skills assessment ecosystem in the country is maintained at a designated standard.

We will work to deliver entrepreneurship, education and training in 2,200 colleges, 300 schools, 500 government ITIs and 50 vocational training centres. Aspiring entrepreneurs will be connected to mentors and credit markets.

You recently stated that over 18 lakh people have been under PMKVY scheme over the last eight months. By when do you aim to reach your target of enrolling 24 lakh people? On reaching this target, how does the government plan to utilise this skilled manpower?
Under the scheme, the target of training 24 lakh people was divided into fresh training (14 lakh) and recognition of prior learning (RPL) (10 lakh). We have already crossed the mark of 14 lakh freshly trained people out of which nine lakh have also been assessed and certified.

However, we faced some initial challenges in training under the RPL since the programme focuses on the recognition of skills people already possess. This skilled workforce is distributed across formal and informal sectors with a majority in the latter.

We have reviewed the framework and have proposed a different approach to processes in both, the formal and informal sectors. Moreover, the financial viability of the process has been duly considered and accordingly, amendments to the guidelines have been made.

A skilled individual has three options – employment, enhancement or entrepreneurship. S/he can opt for employment; however, as I said, the options are limited. The second option for an individual is to enhance their skills through high level courses in that sector. Lastly, skilled professionals can become entrepreneurs and contribute to the growth of the country.

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