Even as it is working to expand skilling programmes and target school dropouts for vocational training, the government is also planning a scheme for entrepreneurship development that would introduce specific courses in at least 5,000 colleges over the next three years as a means to boost employment opportunities and economic growth.
The proposed scheme is expected to integrate entrepreneurship education with formal education as well as facilitate mentorship and incubator centres across the country to help foster entrepreneurs and boost opportunities for self-employment.
“The idea is to deliver entrepreneurship programmes to schools, colleges and universities to encourage development of entrepreneurship and start-ups in the country,” said Dilip Chenoy, managing director and CEO, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) that is one of the partners of the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship for the scheme.
While NSSO data reveals that over 5.77 crore people in the country were self-employed, a World Bank study on entrepreneurship revealed that the density of new business registration in India in 2012, which it considers as a key indicator of employment generation, was much lower than comparable economies such as Brazil and Malaysia.
“Self-employment is the largest form of employment in the country but the objective is to turn these into success stories and not consider it as an alternative to wage employment,” said an official close to the development, pointing out that even schemes like the MUDRA Bank are aimed at fostering entrepreneurship in the country.
The new scheme, which is still being worked out by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, would be rolled out over a three-year period with a focus on entrepreneurship education, social entrepreneurship and incubator, accelerator and mentor network. It also presents a significant break from the current system of entrepreneurship development, where it is considered to be a part of the skilling curricula. At present, there are two different approaches to entrepreneurship development through the NSDC.
For some skills such as beauty and wellness, mobile repairing, carpentry and masonry, candidates are given kits at the end of their course to start their own businesses.
Meanwhile, for many other segments, the training partner skills the candidates for a particular livelihood programme and then also gives them a loan to start their own businesses. With over 10,500 engineering colleges and polytechnics in the country with an intake capacity of about 22 lakh students, entrepreneurship based on innovation would now be a key focus of the scheme that would help in job creation.
The government also plans to set up an incubator, accelerator and mentor network that would include technology business incubators at institutions such as the IIMs, IITs, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and the National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board.
Interestingly, apart from colleges, the scheme would also plans to target schools for building awareness as entrepreneurship as a career option. Apart from NSDC, the ministry also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Wadhwani Foundation, which works on initiatives for job creation and skilling in India and other Asian countries, in January this year.
“As part of the agreement, we will help roll out entrepreneurship courses in at least 3,000 to 5,000 colleges across the country to provide handholding to students by setting up entrepreneurship cells and incubators in the campus as well as provide a technology platform to scale this model across the country,” said Ajay Goel, vice president, Wadhwani Foundation. The process of providing the course and such support to students through colleges takes about two to three years.
“But on an average, a typical company in the first few years has the potential to create at least four to five jobs. Last year, we trained half a million students through their colleges, out of which about 1,200 companies got created. So this has a huge potential,” said Goel.
Additionally, the Foundation will also work with the government to provide support and mentorship as well as try to address issues of funding for small and medium enterprises. “At least 25 per cent of all entrepreneurs face the issue of funding,” said Goel, adding that the Foundation has also signed an agreement with the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises on the issue.
“The objective of both the skill policy as well as the entrepreneurship scheme is job creation so that the youth has some productive form of employment,” said the official.
Both the sectors of skilling as well as entrepreneurship are also a key focus areas of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister’s Office is also understood to be keeping a close watch and frequent discussions on the two policies.
Meanwhile, apart from the Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd. (MUDRA Bank), the government also plans to explore other avenues of funding for entrepreneurial ventures and has also revived the proposal of setting up a National Fund for the Unorganised Sector, as recommended by the National Commission for Enterprise in the Unorganised Sector in 2007.
Simultaneously, it also plans to remove entry and exit constraints faced by entrepreneurs and improve ease of doing business through measures such as a Single Unique Enterprise Identity Number for various registrations including taxes and social security as well as an on-line Single Composite Application Form (SCAF) that will help entrepreneurs file a single application for obtaining all the approvals and clearances from various government authorities.