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'Providing Skills To 400 Million Indians By 2022 A Challenge'

Both public and private sectors will have to collaborate and work on creating aspiration and respect for skills among youth, says Jayant Krishna, CEO of National Skill Development Corporation

Photo Credit : Suresh Gola


Jayant Krishna, CEO of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), is responsible for providing a strategic vision in ensuring that his team moves in one direction towards achieving the Skill India mission. In an interview with BW Businessworld, he says there is a long way to go in achieving the target of training 400 million people by 2022.

How is NSDC trying to achieve the government's target of training more than 400 million people across the country in different skills by 2022? Is it achievable? What are the challenges?

We have already achieved a target of creating 1.4 crore jobs since Skill India was launched but we have a long way to go as India is a big country. The challenges are with regard to the delivery on ground as per identified standards and managing the database. The National Skill Mission and the Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Policy has already received cabinet approval and is being implemented. On the delivery front, we are actively pushing for standardization in syllabi, teaching methodology, state of workshops and interface with industry.

Another long term challenge is vocationalization of education and implementation of national skill qualification framework in collaboration with school education and higher education. NSDC is actively ensuring delivery of standards across all initiatives and bridging the gap between the industry, the academia and the corporates to build and sustain a cohesive skill ecosystem for the youth of our country, make them employable and ensure jobs to them.

Adjacently, the public and the private sector will have to collaborate and work on creating aspiration and respect for skills, within the youth. Enough awareness needs to be imparted on the courses available under vocational education and how they can help transform an individual's life.

Does the PMKVY make the skilling agenda more challenging for NSDC? How has the progress under this scheme been?

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) is a unique initiative by the Government of India and the flagship scheme of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) which is being implemented by NSDC. Every scheme or programme in its initial stage or first year of commencement faces a few hurdles and challenges but we see a great response on the scheme from the youth. It could have been more challenging for NSDC but with the focus that MSDE has put on creating synergies and convergence between Centre and state governments, ministries and departments, the work has become more streamlined.

We have local MLAs and MPs who are helping in the launch and promotion of scheme which in turn is driving great mobilisation from the masses. So far we have conducted 410 Kaushal Vikas Shivirs, across 300 constituencies in the country and the scheme has seen 1,974,764 candidates enrol into the courses and take benefit from it.

The challenge is big in terms its goal of skilling 24 lakh Indian youth and making them more efficient and industry relevant through skill based training. The financial/monetary reward is a great way to encourage and extend financial aid to those who are financially weak to be able to bear the cost of the trainings.

We have invested a lot of time and energy in ensuring every youth in the country till the very last mile is aware about this scheme and can benefit from it. The industries have to now come forward and extend support to the ecosystem in making this programme a success by either investing through their CSR, or through infrastructure support or absorbing the youth that is skilled and job ready. The focus is primarily on placements now for all, and we will soon see our efforts resulting into the growth of the individual and the country.

There are several government bodies in India running skill development programmes but with little symbiosis. How do we ensure quality outcomes and skill development with speed?

I agree that there are several bodies and skill development programs which were running in isolation till now; but the new Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship currently has focused heavily on assistance, coordination and convergence across ministries, states and departments. This will certainly ensure quality outcomes and skill development with speed. There is a lot of restructuring and realignment which is taking place in the skill ecosystem.

Over 70-odd Skill Development Programmes (SDPs) were being run, each with its own norms for eligibility criteria, duration of training, cost of training, outcomes, monitoring and tracking mechanism etc. The recent skill development policy has been a great move by MSDE, which has helped rationalize the whole spectrum of skill development processes and systems including inputs, outputs, funding/cost norms, third party certification and assessment, monitoring/tracking mechanisms, and empanelment of training providers.

Another big change that has been seen is that the Skills Ministry now has 11,000 industrial training institutes (ITIs) and scores of other institutions, and the apprenticeship and training divisions, under its purview.

So everyone is getting aligned to one common goal and this was imperative; as it was about time that the country realized the need and importance of skills; and all industries, ministries, states, corporates and individuals join hands and work towards a common objective of making India the 'Skills Capital of the World'.

How have you been using IT to meet some of these goals?
With the advent of technology in India and new modes and modules of delivery in education and training, IT has a crucial role to play in the success of skill development in the nation, especially when the rural parts of India are concerned where delivery has been a challenge for us.

There are multi-media enabled technology solutions now for skilling and they are now being integrated in online/in-class education through digital/video using blended learning, in industry driven curricula and pedagogy and in direct industry partnerships. These job oriented e-learning courses can reach thousands of students simultaneously through integrated platforms.

IT also helps in managing the huge database of the skilled workforce we have in the country and helps align the demand and supply in the market across sectors.

Are you adopting some best practices from other nations or partnered with them?
Yes, certainly. There are best practices that are readily available and which can be and have been adopted by us in our ecosystem. NSDC has entered into several agreements with countries like the Gulf countries, USA, UK, Australia, France, Germany and Canada with a purpose of technology transfer of international standards in vocational training, training of trainers, setting up of centers of excellence, international mobility through mapping of job roles and development of transnational standards.

We have partnered with these countries to ensure best practices which will benefit the youth not only in the domestic market but in the global market as well.

What is the percentage of employability of the trained skills? Is there a 100 per cent employability guarantee?
Last year the government launched three major campaigns for the country which will eventually give India its direction for growth - "Make in India", "Digital India" and "Start-Up India". These will require special focus on skill sets in the manufacturing sector, construction, IT/ITeS, e-commerce, hospitality and healthcare.

Job positions that will have high demand in the years include data scientists, retail planners, product managers, digital marketers, and senior IT professionals. Engineers will continue to have a high demand. It is also a must that these skilled workers have good behavioral skills, interpersonal and communication skills. India will also see new professions and job roles, coming up, with the advent of new technology. For e.g. a BPO unit of 500 professionals can easily be managed through an IVR now but we still need technology professionals who can ensure correct delivery of information through the IVR. Hence more specialized skill sets will be sought after.

Basic skills sets for being an entrepreneur will also be in huge demand keeping in mind the boost and support that young professionals will get from the "Start-up India" campaign.

NSDC is partnering with corporates to use their CSR funds towards skill development. The recent ones being with Dalmia Foundation? Which are the other corporates you have tied up with?

Yes we are partnering with many PSUs like Coal India, GAIL among other state run companies and also private companies. It's too early to name some as we are still signing up with firms.