Skill Development & Vocational Training Scenario in India

Madhukar Shukla, XLRI Jamshedpur

While last couple of years have seen a fluctuation and a dip in India’s growth rate, overall the growth rate of the economy during the last two decades has been impressive. This growth has also opened up an opportunity to mainstream India’s vast unorganized workforce. The potential benefits from this growth, however, are still largely concentrated in pockets, and have not reached the vast populace of the country. Moreover, a skilled manpower is imperative to realize these benefits, whereas the existing skill scenario in the workforce shows a sobering picture: • 92% of Indian workforce is in non-formal unorganized sector. Of the 460mn total workforce in 2004-05, 56.8% were self-employed, 28.9% casual labour, and 14.3% on regular wages. Besides the large number, the education and skill levels of Indian workforce is abysmally low. According to NSSO 2000, about 44%of the workers were illiterate, and another 22.7% had schooling up to primary level. A majority of the Indian workforce also does not possess “marketable” skills (see box 1.x, for an indicative list of “marketable skills). According to a report by Ministry of Labour and Employment, in the urban area, only about 19.6% of male and 11.2% of female workers possess marketable skills. In the rural areas, the percentage of workforce with marketable skills was even lower: about 10% for male and 6.3% for female. i A vast majority of workforce does not have access to any formal training. The 11th FYP had reported that only 2% of the workforce between 15-29 years receives any formal training, while another 8% receives non-formal training. Overall, only 9% of India’s workforce is technically trained. Moreover, the country lacks training infrastructure to meet that emerging needs for skilling/re-skilling the workforce. The entire capacity for job training in the country is mere 3.1mn per annum, while every year 12.8mn new entrants join the workforce. The existing skill training facilities too are obsolete, with inadequate infrastructure, outdated courses, etc.

Clearly, while the growth may enhance potential for job creation in certain sectors, there is not enough trained and skilled manpower to take advantage such opportunities. For the country to maintain its growth rate, and also to provide remunerative livelihood/employment opportunities, concerted efforts to create a large pool of skilled manpower are essential. Recognizing this hurdle, in 2008-09, government of India had endorsed a vision to create 500mn skilled workers by 2022. As discussed earlier, the 12th Plan also articulates “Enhancing Skills and Faster Generation of Employment” as a critical challenge to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth. This section discusses the

status, potential and challenges of scaling up of the skill development and vocational training initiative in India. Box 1. X: Indicative list of “Marketable Skills” of Informal Sector Workforce • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Typist/Stenographer Fishermen Miner, Quarryman Spinner incl. Charkha operator Weaver Tailor Shoemaker, Cobbler Carpenter Mason, Bricklayer Machine man Fitter, Die maker Welder Blacksmith Goldsmith • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Electrician, Repairer of electronic goods Motor Vehicle driver Tractor driver Boatman Potter Nurse, Midwife Basket maker, wicker product maker Toy maker Brick/ Tile maker Bidi maker Bookbinder Barber Mud House Builder & Thatcher Silversmith

Source: Sharma, 2002 ii

Status of Vocational Training Infrastructure in India
To appreciate the implications of the target of creating 500mn skilled manpower, one needs to understand the existing quality and capacity of the vocational training in India. a. Vocational Education (VE): Formal VE in the educational system is introduced at secondary level. This is done through about 150 vocational courses of two year duration, which are imparted in merely 9,583 secondary schools across the country. In addition, the National Institute of Open Schooling also offers 80 courses to prepare students for employment. These courses collectively enroll about 600,000 students. As is evident, the coverage of VE at the school level is abysmally low. While the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had set the target to bring 25% of senior secondary school students (Class XI and XII) in the ambit of vocational courses, at present, only 3% students undergo such training. Moreover, VE is imparted in only 8% of the schools. The reasons for low enrollment to these courses are many fold ranging from obsolete syllabus, which is not linked to changing market requirements, to poor infrastructure and absence of qualified training staff. There are, however, some emerging initiatives to provide VE during education which, if they spread, can give a boost of vocational education. For instance, during

last 2-3 years, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has made a breakthrough by launching the Community College Scheme for Skill Development by establishing 600 Community Colleges which already enroll 200,000 students. iii Similarly, Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and IGNOU came together in June 2011 to establish 1,000 Vocational Training and Skill Development Centers (VTSDC) through the National Institutes of Technology (NITs), which will train 3mn people in construction, automobile and rural technologies. iv b. Certificate Level Vocational and Technical Training: Vocational training, leading to certification, is open to students after completing Class-XII, and covers about 150 trades in primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. This training is provided under two major schemes: (a) • Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS) which is provided through government managed Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and privately managed Industrial Training Centers (ITCs). They offer courses with duration ranging from 1 to 3 years, and together their intake capacity is more than a million. Apprenticeship Training Scheme (ATS) which provides training to more than 200,000 trainees every year at worksites of the enterprises. This training varies from duration ranging from 6 months to 4 years depending on the type of trade.

Like secondary school vocational education, vocational training also suffers from a number of structural deficiencies, such as lack of labour market relevance of training, absence of industry-institute interaction, obsolete curricula, etc. In addition, the regional distribution of ITIs/ITCs is skewed towards certain states, resulting in regional imbalances in availability of vocational training. During last couple of years, government has taken certain initiatives to improve the functioning of ITIs/ ITCs, e.g.: • • • • A total of 8039 ITIs and ITCs have been affiliated with the National Council for Vocation Training, and their capacity has been increased by 100,000. Of the 1896 government ITIs, 400 have been selected for upgradation. Modular Employable Skills (MES) courses, discussed later in detail, have been introduced in many ITIs. 500 ITIs were selected to be upgraded a Centers of Excellence, and 21 new sector-specific courses were introduced to ensure industry relevance of the certificate, etc.

Vocational Training and Skill Development Initiatives
There are a variety of skill development schemes and programs in India, implemented by the government, NGOs and private sector. Many of these hold the promise of

providing a replicable model which can scale the impact. The following paragraphs discuss three key ongoing skill development initiatives: a. National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC): To meet the skill development challenge through re-skilling, the 11th Plan had proposed the establishment of National Skill Development Mission, and created a policy structure on Skill Development through three apex bodies: National Council on Skill Development, National Skill Development Coordination Board, and National Skill Development Corporation. NSDC was created as the nodal implementing agency, with a mandate to facilitate and fund skill development ventures through PPP model, and to meet about onethird of skill requirements by creating a pool of vocationally trained manpower of 150mn. Since its inception in 2009, NSDC has covered reasonably significant ground work. March 20011, it had completed skill-gap analysis of 21 sectors, and approved funding for more than 20 skill development ventures which together target to skill about 45mn people in the next 5 years. It had also initiated the formation of 28 Sector Skill Councils in collaboration with sector, of which six (for auto, energy, IT/ITES, media and entertainment, retails and security sectors) were either approved or incorporated by June 2011. The role of these councils would be to identify sector skill needs, maintain skill inventory, develop standards and accreditation process and criteria, plan and execute training of trainers, promote sector-specific training institutes, etc. In the context of the industry and developmental requirements, NSDC had also prioritized its targets to focus on training 30-35 million people each in automotive, construction and unorganized sectors in the short term. v While NSDC has made progress in its two years of existence, it will take some years for the impact of its work to become visible. To meet its mandate of training 150mn people by 2022, NSDC will need to train 15mn workers every year on average. This will be a challenging target to meet, since the projects funded by it, are still in nascent stages, and even the sector skill councils will take 3-4 years to become active and functional. b. Modular Employability Skills (MES) Scheme: The MES Scheme is an extensive skill development scheme under the Skill Development Initiative, and is implemented by the Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGE&T), Ministry of Labour and Employment. MES was launched in 2007 as a strategic framework for skill development for early school drop-outs, ITI/ITC graduates, and existing workers, especially in unorganized sector, in close consultations with all stakeholders (e.g., industry, micro enterprises in the unorganized sector, state governments, experts, academia, etc.). The scheme carries a certificate issued by National Council of Vocational Training (NCVT), which is recognized across India and internationally for employability of the imparted skills. The trainees are also given financial support through reimbursement by the government within the resources allocated statewise.

The scheme is unique in that it is designed as an open architecture, allowing for active participation from the industry/ private sector in every stage of design and implementation of the scheme in a PPP mode. This facilitates the curriculum to remain updated to industry requirements, and new skills can be added to the system easily. In terms of its design, the modules are typically of short duration (3 months), and the curriculum is mostly represented as a small brief describing the exact skill and the requisite knowledge to acquire and practice a specific skill. This also allows for certain degree of customization to suit specific requirements. Since its inception, more than 1200 MES modules covering 48 sectors (including agriculture, animal husbandry, poultry, horticulture, etc.) have been developed. By 2009-10, the scheme had registered more than 5,000 government/private and other vocational training providers, and had trained close to half a million people, of which roughly half had also found employment. The MES concept has the potential to go a long way in fostering skill development for two reasons: one, it transforms the skill acquisition process from 1 to 2 years to a short span of 3 months, and two, it is flexible enough to provide multiple points of entry and exit. c. Social Sector Initiatives: Skill development for providing livelihood opportunities to the poor has always been part of many social sector initiatives. Many such ongoing initiatives also provide replicable/ scalable models, which can accelerate the pace of skill development. Moreover, they also differ from other skill development initiatives in that they consider skill development and job placement within the context of other deprivations experienced by informal sector workers.

Opportunities and Challenges
As can be seen from the previous discussion, the investments by the government, the demand pull from the industry, and the improving economic growth opens up huge opportunities for mainstreaming India’s unorganized workforce. The various initiatives so far, however, fall far short of the vision of the National Skill Development Mission, of create a 500mn strong skilled workforce by 2022. To achieve this target, the country needs to add 40-50mn trained, skilled and industry-ready people every year. To meet this challenge, there are a number of issues which will need to be addressed: a. Administrative Infrastructure for Deployment of Vocational Training/ Skill Development: Even though the government has endorsed a vision for training/ reskilling of 500mn workers by 2022, there is no centralized agency which is in-charge of this initiative. At present, the responsibility of vocational training/ skill development is distributed and lacks focus. For instance, different kinds of skill/ vocational training are managed by 17 different ministries/ departments. There is little coordination among them, but their experience can be a great source of mutual learning. Similarly, the mandate of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) too is limited in number (150mn), and to skill-gap analysis and funding of publicprivate partnerships; there is no mechanism to link the market needs with the nature of vocational trainings, and so on.

The renewed focus on skill development provides for a possibility for creation of a nodal administrative infrastructure, such as a separate ministry for skill development/ vocational training, which can give a focused deployment of this initiative. b. Vocational Education at Secondary Level: To create a pipeline of skilled workforce, vocational education at secondary school level is essential. The high drop-out rates between primary and secondary education is often due to the perceived utility of secondary education for employment purposes. However, even among the few secondary schools which offer vocational education, due to quality and applicability of the courses, very few students opt for them. To meet the target of 25% students within the ambit of vocational education, there is a need to make the courses more relevant, and to create industry/employment linkages to create incentive for more youth to join VE. c. Labour Market Information System: With Indian industry getting increasingly connected to global market-forces, the chances of fluctuations in sectoral growth – and correspondingly nature of skill requirements - also increase. To offset these, there would be a need to develop a robust labour market information system, which can keep the skill training aligned to emerging and changing market requirements. d. Diverse and Decentralized Delivery Channels for Skill Training: The sheer size, heterogeneity, broad age range, wide geographical coverage, poor educational & income status, gender & social disparity pose a huge challenge to skill development initiative. More decentralized approaches to delivery (e.g., mobile training, distance learning, involvement of panchayats, municipalities and local bodies, etc.) will be required to meet the diverse needs and constraints of these segments.

i Shukla, Madhukar, “Crafting” the Future of Work in India: Towards a Socially Relevant HR. In Pritam Singh, Jyotsana Bhatnagar, and Asha Bhandarkar (Eds) Future of Work: Mastering Change. New Delhi, Excel Books, 2006.

Sharma, S, 2002, ‘Employment (Vision 2020)’, in Planning Commission website, viewed 25 June 2006, at http://planningcommission.nic.in/reports/genrep/bkpap2020/32_bg2020.pdf iii IGNOU has over two lakh students in about 600 community colleges announces Vice-Chancellor Prof. V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai, India Education Diary, June 21, 2011. http://indiaeducationdiary.in/Shownews.asp?newsid=9362 iv Vocational Training and Skill Development Centres (VTSDC) India. http://news.icbse.com/vocational-training-skill-development-centre-vtsdc-india-1139
ii v

NSDC to set up 28 Sector Skills Councils, Business Standard, June 18, 2011. http://www.businessstandard.com/india/news/nsdc-to-set28-sector-skills-councils/439530/

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