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BW Businessworld

‘PM Is Hands-on, On Skill India’

In a conversation with BW Businessworld, Union minister of state (independent charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy says that the Ministry roadmap has been in accordance with the PM’s vision

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

Union minister of state (independent charge) for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy says skilling India is like a silent revolution for the future growth of the country. Skilling India is one of the pet projects of PM Narendra Modi. In a conversation with BW Businessworld’s Suman K. Jha and Himani Chandna, Rudy says that the Ministry roadmap has been in accordance with the PM’s vision.

Edited excerpts:

What have been the main achievements of the Narendra Modi government in the last three years?
First, we have succeeded in changing the narrative of governance – which is of conviction now. Everything comes out from this. The narrative is, ‘Gareeb, Berozgaar, Naujavan, Mazdoor and Kisan’, and the last man (in the queue). We are celebrating three years of government, along with the 100 years (centenary celebrations) of Pandit Deen Dayal Uphadayay.

The key achievements are reforms, programmes for the poor and establishing a transparent delivery mechanism with accountability in the government. Integrity, honesty have come to be associated with this government.

There is a very stable government at the Centre, which has given certain directions that are visible.

The Skill Ministry was established in November 2014. What has been the journey like?    
For me, the biggest challenge was to define skills. After two-and-a-half years, when we talk about skills, for whom, how, where – the process and the curriculum, the process of training, etc., have been put in place.

Beyond the process of training is the assessment for the examination and then taking them to the world of employment. This whole ecosystem is in process and the larger framework is the National Skills Qualifications Framework, the training of which is outcome-based. It is industry demand-driven.

Training was the biggest challenge and hence the larger platform has been created, which is being adopted by the States and the Centre. Even the private sector has started aligning to this whole ecosystem.

What has been the roadmap like? What are the Ministry’s other achievements?    
The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has trained more than 1.17 crore aspirants in various skills through MSDE schemes and programmes since the inception of Skill India. It is a silent revolution that is underway and is a joint investment that the government along with the private partners, is making for the country’s growth. It is a path that needs to be travelled very carefully since it involves the future of our youth. Under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 26.5 lakh people have got trained in skills of their choice till date, of which 50 per cent are women candidates. It is good to see that more and more women candidates are coming forward to take up skills.

Skill India timelines are very ambitious. Are you confident that you will be able to achieve the targets in the timeline?    
Where’s the timeline? The target was created by the Manmohan Singh government in the unorganised sector – 400 million figure was drawn in the unorganoised sector.
So, there will be a shortfall of existing workforce and those joining the workforce. A million youngsters might join the workforce and there would be a backlog. We are catering to this demand and improving the overall skill ecosystem for those who are already in the process – to put them in fresh categories of certification and training.

So, this (400 million figure) was achievable only if it was like primary education started in the country 60 years ago. If there was a parallel system of primary skill centres, secondary skill centres and tertiary skill centres, and if it existed in the ecosystem, the 400 million target would have been achieved.

We have created an ecosystem. HRD was always concentrated on teaching and not on skilling. That should have gone hand-in-hand, but we are trying to create a vertical system.

Skilling is PM’s pet project, which is the reason he picked you. So, how much time does he spend with you on skilling?   
He is hands-on. There is a review mechanism, whenever I seek time, he gives me and I keep on asking and seeking directions. He has a vision and he has spelt it out. In accordance with his vision, we have been able to implement our programmes. He talked about international skills, driver’s training, RPL, ITIs to become IITs – and we did all of them. You have a whole reference, where he has said what he wants and we have created it. It took me a year-and-a-half to build a system, but the process of delivery has started now..

Has the NSDC model delivered the desired results?    
It existed. Now we are creating a system for it to deliver. It is on track.

Lot of people think that NSDC should focus solely on financing. So, what are your thoughts?
They should, 100 per cent. But they did not do it well. The previous regime committed Rs 2,600 crore to the market, disbursed Rs 900 crore.  Now they are struggling with that. They should have done it better. The new regime is trying to do it better.

The government has been doing a lot in Skill India. But, has the private sector involvement in skilling India been adequate? What more are you looking for there?
They are coming up, but there could be much more. The creation of Sector Skill Councils was the basic idea to engage industry to partner and create curriculum and courses, which the industry desires. I think they have moved but they need to do it at a larger scale. I have no complaints, but we need more.

What are the newer initiatives you are coming out with?    
We have already come out with NAPS for apprenticeship. YUVA for entrepreneurship. ‘Sankalp and Strive’ for the ITIs. ‘Sankalp’ for developing the overall ecosystem of the States. We have moved in all directions.

The States have participated in their own way, but do you think it is high time that States should also have Skilling Ministries?    
Some have moved before, some are moving now. We are giving Rs 10,000-12,000 crore under PMKVY; 25 per cent of the financial and physical targets have to go to the States. So, that has become a great attraction for the states. Over Rs 4,000 crore will go to the States. The States have also started to pick up the model and some of the states such as Kerala, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh are doing pretty well and others are picking it up.

What will be your roadmap for the next two years?   
My roadmap is to see the implementation and create the deliverables for the schemes that we have already launched. Now is the time to deliver and show the product. Not anything fresh. Revamp of the structure of ITIs, which is already in the last phase, is something very important. We will be notifying the new structure, which will come up and the ITIs will be exactly like the Prime Minister has said --  like the IITs. That is my ambition.

We have been witnessing jobless growth for lots of years together. So, do you think that the skilling mission has managed to make a difference to the entire ecosystem? 
I am unable to train as many people who are required at entry level jobs. The connect with the industry indicates that we are still falling short of entry level jobs. At the same time, the ministry is also talking about, ‘not to become an employee, but to become an employer’. So, that is one thing we are focusing in a big way. We are talking about the YUVA programme. We have started mentorship in ITIs with 23 lakh students and other short term skilling courses.