In May 2013, Chhattisgarh became the first state — it remains the only one so far — to enact a law to provide training in various skills to its unemployed youth. The first year has seen some progress but simultaneously highlighted various challenges the state faces in meeting an ambitious target it has set for itself.
Chahttisgarh’s Right of Youth to Skill Development Act followed the National Skill Development Policy undertaken by the UPA. The national policy sets a target of 500 million skilled workers by 2022, given that every year 12.8 million workers were entering the labour market, 26 million the organised sector and 433 million the unorganised sector.
The state’s target is 12.5 million “certified skilled technicians”, also by 2022. That represents over half the current population of 24 million in a state where 80 per cent live in rural areas, and where around 40 lakh out of 56 lakh households live below the poverty line. In the first year, the government has provided training to some 1.18 lakh youths, one per cent of the target, leaving it with a lot of catching up to do in the remaining eight years.
“It’s an aspirational and indicative target; the state is making all endeavours to achieve it,” says Amit Agrawal, secretary, technical education.
One drawback of the Act is that it does not define a penalty for any official who fails to train an applicant within a defined period. And even if the government meets the target, one challenge will be to provide employment to the skilled youth in a state that is struggling to cater even to its demand for MNREGA jobs, which rarely call for such skills.
The Act provides that no one aged between 14 and 45 should be denied an opportunity to get skilled in a vocation of one’s choice, subject to one’s qualification. The Act lists out 346 vocations which come under 51 categories such as Information Technology, Electrical, Beauty Culture, Textile, Fashion Design, Banking and Accounting, Medical and Nursing, Sericulture, and Poultry. The minimum qualification is class VIII for a basic skills course , after which one can go for intermediary and advanced courses.
Under the Act, once a person applies the government will identify a vocational training provider “and inform the applicant within 90 days”. A VTP could be an institution or an individual; Chhattisgarh has around 2,000 VTPs. Once the course is complete, the trained worker gets a certificate.
The Act provides for District Skill Development Authorities in each district, to be monitored by the State Skill Development Authority, which in turn is supervised by a governing council headed by the chief minister.
Significantly, if an applicant lives at a distance from the VTPs and the government finds that “commutation is beyond the capacity of the applicant”, the applicant may be provided continued…