Impetus to Competency Based Skill Development
Every year more than 13 million Indians enter the working age. The country has an annual training capacity of 3 million on adding up all the training and educational capacities in ITIs, polytechnics, graduate colleges, professional colleges etc. It takes 1 year to 4 years to create an educated/ skilled Indian. Therefore even if a rapid capacity building spree is undertaken, this gap of more than 10 million is very difficult to bridge as the long gestation periods for training make the pace of skilling slower than the pace at which new Indians are entering the working age. Addressing this issue is critical to realizing the demographic dividend potential of India.
It is in the above context that Government of India created a separate Ministry for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship which launched the flagship skill development scheme by the name of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) to provide fresh impetus to competency based skill development in India. The objective of this skill certification and reward scheme is to enable and mobilize a large number of Indian youth to take up outcome based skill training, become employable and earn their livelihood. This scheme also addresses lack of industry driven competency based training institutions and hence addresses some of the market failures pertaining to competency based training.
The Scheme was launched on 15 July, 2015, on the occasion of World Youth Skills Day by Honourable Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). The first year (2015-2016) of the scheme was utilized in setting the right foundations to further scale up the scheme. Since then this scheme has been a major source of skilled manpower to the employers especially the informal sector.
Employment and unemployment surveys (EUS) conducted by the National Sample Survey Organisation for 2011-12 estimated employment in the informal component to be about 75 per cent of total usual status employment (principal and subsidiary) in the rural areas and 69 per cent in urban areas. The figures for informal employment are likely to be even larger because enterprises identified as "employer's households", which account for employment like the provision of domestic services, are excluded from the definition of the informal sector.
PMKVY has a crucial role to improve productivity in the informal sector through creation of a pool of industry and National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) aligned skilled workforce. PMKVY (2016-2020) requires that at least 70% successfully assessed trainees are provided with wage employment. The scheme provides incentives to Training Providers for successfully attaining the required placement norms. Being a flagship skill development scheme, providing a significantly large pool of skilled manpower trained on industry aligned NSQF standards to informal sector for improved productivity, is a key impact of this scheme.
There are significant number of job roles in the PMKVY training ecosystem which readily lend themselves to creation of microenterprises. Select examples of such job roles for which training is undertaken in PMKVY include Self-employed tailor, Hand embroider, Small poultry farmer, E-rickshaw driver and service technician, Carpenter, Stitching operator (partially in traditional clusters across the country), etc. This is resulting in creation of new microenterprises by skilled and competent PMKVY trainees. Recent mobile app based market aggregators like Urban Clap, Housejoy, etc have provided a further fillip to the available self-employment avenues in select trades.
As part of the state component of the scheme, state skill development missions are encouraged to undertake traditional apprenticeship training in artisan and handicraft clusters of the concerned states. Creating a pool of next generation skilled craftsmen is extremely critical to preservation of traditional art and craft heritage of the country. Select pilots like training on Chikankari, Handmade sports goods, etc have already been approved under the PMKVY scheme.
The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) component of PMKVY is primarily focussed on assessing and certifying the skills of informal sector workers. Evaluation of trade learned skills and certification through assessment helps the trainees through increased mobility options to the formal sector employment. In certain cases, it has been observed that RPL certification has helped workers negotiate better wages and open possibilities for some vertical progression in their careers. In almost all cases, trainees have displayed enhanced self-confidence and pride through attainment of skill certificates.
While the first year of the scheme provided an opportunity to firm up the foundations of the program, it also threw up quite a few lessons. Thus, when the Union Cabinet approved the Scheme for another four years (2016-2020) to impart skilling to 1 crore youth of the country with an outlay of Rs.12,000 crores, it was felt that this scheme extension should be based on three key pillars:
1.Standardization of training infrastructure and developing clear quality benchmarks for training centres
2.Relentless focus on placements as a measure of final outcome
3.Promotion of transparency through an objective and process based decision making framework
On the basis of the above three principal pillars, a slew of reforms measures were implemented for PMKVY (2016-2020):
1.Accreditation and affiliation of training centres : A new process of training centre accreditation and affiliation shifts the focus from training providers to training centres. Sector Skill Councils have developed detailed infrastructure guidelines based on which an inspections are undertaken. The accreditation decision is based on the training centre rating and grading methodology. The concerned Sector Skill Councils provide affiliation to a training centre for the approved job roles. This process extensively leverages technology through inspection and self-reporting apps providing for geo-stamped and time-stamped pictures. A dedicated online portal (smartnsdc.org) has been developed to support this process.
2.Standardization of course content : Sector Skill Councils have published model content curriculum for trainings prescribed under PMKVY (2016-2020) thereby ensuring standardized quality of text books. A standardized induction kit is also provided to all trainees at the commencement of the training.
3. Mandatory Training of Trainers : Trainers have to mandatorily undergo the 'Train the Trainer' program of the concerned Sector Skill Councils.
4. Unique enrolments and Aadhaar based attendance system : Aadhaar ID of all trainees are validated at the time of batch creation which prevents bogus enrolments. Further, at this stage a duplication check is also carried out to weed out candidates who may have earlier received similar training in the NSDC ecosystem. Attendance through Aadhaar Enabled Biometric Attendance System (AEBAS) is mandatory under PMKVY. Training Providers in select states of North East and J&K, where Aadhaar penetration is low, are required to capture attendance through a biometric device.
5. Mobile application for assessments : A new mobile app for evidence based assessments is under development.
It is envisaged that the above interventions would lead to better training outcomes which will ultimately reflect in the quantum and quality of placements. 70% wage employment post training has been made mandatory under the scheme and the training providers have been incentivised accordingly.
PMKVY has taken some big strides in providing competency based training on a massive scale and prescribed quality. It is successfully pushing the frontiers of attitude, knowledge and skill of Indian workforce especially those employed in the informal sector. Going forward, the current focus of the scheme on entry level job roles will be expanded to include appropriate interventions along the entire occupational path of focus trades. Properly designed upskilling and reskilling initiatives will have to be suitably incorporated in the scheme. This has become especially critical in the context of anticipated disruptions due to Industry 4.0. Hence, this scheme will evolve to include perhaps longer duration trainings on cutting edge skills for some higher learner segments like graduates. Over time, the scheme should provide a comprehensive and holistic workforce training interventions by catering to current and anticipated future employment ecosystem.
(The author is Joint Secretary, Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Government of India.)