BY: Anoop K. Satpathy and Nikhil Raj
But will a nodal ministry at the Centre solve all issues in a federal structure such as ours?
India stands at the cusp of a demographic dividend, and several people have expressed the urgent need to leverage this dividend to enable jumps in GDP growth. The formation of the National Skill Development Mission (NSDM) signalled the high priority attached to skill development. The NSDM created three distinct structures, namely, the Prime Minister’s National Council on Skill Development, the Skill Development Coordination Board at the Planning Commission and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). The first two were subsequently shelved and replaced by the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA). The NSDC, however, was retained as an entity under the NSDM. Now, the NDA government has brought all skill development initiatives under one umbrella ministry, probably motivated by various governance and management issues.
Rapid change in the policy focus on skill development, with attendant modifications in governance structures, reflected that initially the preferred approach was for the implementation to be done in mission mode rather than as a regular Centrally sponsored scheme. But the mission mode approach failed to achieve the desired momentum and monitor and regulate the activities of various stakeholders, thereby undermining the delivery of sufficient numbers of skilled manpower to potential employers. It also showed that skill development initiatives, both in government and the private sector, were far too stretched, and hence needed to be coordinated and monitored by a nodal agency.
There were about 17 ministries and departments directly or indirectly contributing to skill development. Apart from the NSDC, the ministries of labour and employment, and human resource development, were deeply involved. During the last few years, however, the focus seems to have shifted from developing suitable implementation strategies for these ministries and departments.
The government has been funding private skills/ training providers to impart market-driven skills to the target group. The support to the private sector to enable skill development has been devoid of terse quality protocols. The governance, management, quality assurance and monitoring frameworks are at variance across various skill development schemes.
Even for similar types of skills or trades, provisions differ in terms of target groups, per-trainee cost, duration, curriculum, pedagogy, competency testing and certification systems. Skills gap analysis is yet to be institutionalised as a process that informs the design and implementation of skill development programmes. Skills required by the manufacturing sector, which needs a relatively high dose of capital investment, do not find many service providers (apart from the established continued…