In a bid to revitalise the government’s skilling initiative of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), which had a sombre start during the first year since its launch in July 2015, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is now implementing mandatory tracking of placements, trying to reduce the time for assessment and certification and linking payment to training providers with completion of training and achievement of a certain minimum placement to improve the on-ground efficiency of the scheme.
The ministry is also imparting region-specific training, focusing on training candidates for skills that will have requisite demand from employers in their region of training. “At the time of enrollment itself, the candidates are asked to choose between 4-5 options of skills that will have a higher chance of employability in the region. This step ensures that we do not train a candidate for a skill which has no demand in the region,” a senior government official involved in the scheme’s implementation said.
The ministry is also bearing the training costs which vary from Rs 7,600 to a maximum of Rs 20,000 per candidate. “There were funding issues for candidates in the scheme last year. Now, the ministry is bearing the cost and the fees is aligned to training duration. For a training of around 150-200 hours for a candidate such as an unarmed security guard, the training costs around Rs 7,600, while a training of around 500 hours for a candidate such as automotive technician costs Rs 20,000,” the official said.
Transition to a grant-based payment model for training partners and steps such as biometric attendance are helping the ministry to monitor the progress of training schedules across the country. “Earlier, the scheme was reward-based, providing financial incentives to training providers and candidates upon completion of a certain percentage of the skill training. It has been changed to grant-based payment mode, where the last tranche of 20 per cent of the payment is linked to completion of training by a candidate and a level of minimum placement,” the official said.
In July 2016, the Union Cabinet approved a revamped version of the PMKVY scheme with an outlay of Rs 12,000 crore and with an aim to impart fresh skill training to 60 lakh people and certify skills of 40 lakh persons under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process over the next four years (2016-2020). The first year of the PMKVY scheme was marred with issues such as low skilling to placement ratio and delay in assessment and certification process.
Training under the revamped PMKVY scheme (2016-2020) is still underway and the placement figures for the second phase will be available only by next 2-3 months. According to official data till April 25, 2016, submitted by the ministry before a Parliamentary panel, only 81,978 of total 17.58 lakh trained candidates were placed, while only 5.77 lakh candidates were certified since the launch of the scheme in July 2015. According to the PMKVY scheme’s official website, the latest enrollment figure is of 19.83 lakh candidates, out of which 19.77 lakh candidates have completed training and 13.72 lakh candidates have been certified.
Under the RPL scheme, the ministry is trying to complete the assessment process within a day of the completion of training by the candidates and subsequently, complete the certification process through auto-generation of certificates. The scope of RPL scheme, which certifies the skills acquired by workers in the unorganised sectors through traditional, non-formal learning channels, has been expanded beyond construction workers to include around seven sectors such as textiles and rubber tappers.
The tweaking of the guidelines of the RPL scheme, which targets mostly daily-wage workers across the states, comes after a sharp decline was seen in assessment of construction workers in the initial one year of the launch of the scheme. The experience during the initial phase of the RPL scheme showed that a large number of construction workers left the designated work site for other sites, either for better wages or due to personal problems, thereby leaving the certification process half-way and not appearing for the final assessment.
This was observed despite the fact that the workers selected for the scheme did not lose out on their wages for the duration of the training, as the wage compensation for the selected workers was being paid by the State Welfare Boards from the cess fund collected for worker welfare.
Tracking of placements was not a mandatory feature of the earlier version of the PMKVY scheme and therefore, most training partners did not capture the placement data. Also, earlier the only candidates who had passed and held a validated ID as well as bank account were considered certified. “This has been rectified now as the enrollment for skill training under the new version of the scheme happens only after registration of Aadhaar details of the candidates,” the official cited above said.
The government is also in the process of building standardised training centres called Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras. “Around 356 centres have been sanctioned till now, out of which 13 centres are already operational, while 100 are under construction. We expect to have over 300 such centres operational by March 2017,” the official said.
The PMKVY scheme imparts training based on industry-aligned National Occupational Standards through training providers and Sector Skill Councils. Candidates are eligible for a monetary reward upon successful completion of their training and also clearing the assessment by an independent assessment agency appointed by the respective Sector Skill Council. Moreover, the candidates also receive a government recognised certificate which helps them become gainfully employed. The skill training is compliant with the standards set by the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF). The groundwork to create common standards incorporating the industries-level requirements for different kinds of job roles, and aligning the vocational training schemes with these standards was initiated by the previous UPA government, which had notified the National Skills Qualifications Framework in December 2013. It was designed to enable the learner to acquire skills required by the National Occupational Standards (NOS) to be able to perform a particular job role and organised them as a series of qualifications across 10 levels-from level 1 to 10.
The skill training schemes such as PMKVY may be of particular relevance to a country like India where just 2 per cent of the workforce is certified as skilled, as against 96 per cent in South Korea, 80 per cent in Japan, 75 per cent in Germany and 70 per cent in Britain. The selling point of the schemes such as RPL, which is a subcomponent of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana that was launched by the NDA government on July 15 last year, is the certification and monetary reward for those enlisting for the demand-driven scheme that aims to mobilise the youth to take up skill training and become employable.