New Delhi: Skill development minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy on Wednesday made a case to take over the apex technical education regulator from the human resource development (HRD) ministry—a move that may start a turf battle between the two ministries.
Rudy said his proposal to take over the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) will help create a holistic skill ecosystem, which he believes is incomplete without bringing the engineering streams under his ministry’s fold. He said that his idea will face resistance, but he is hopeful it “will take off”.
“Engineering has to become a part of this whole skill ecosystem. At some point of time, AICTE could be considered as part of the skilling ecosystem. It will have resistance, but it will take off,” Rudy said on the sidelines of a state skills ministers conference in New Delhi. He said it’s a “radical idea and may get dismissed by academicians” but he believes the present AICTE system has not worked well.
While engineering colleges under the AICTE cumulatively have 1.8 million engineering seats, a significant number of these are not getting filled. So engineering colleges should metamorphose into skill development institutes wherever possible.
When asked whether the HRD ministry will agree to the proposal, Rudy replied in the affirmative.
“I have spoken to Prakash Javadekar and he is more than keen to take it further,” Rudy said.
But a HRD ministry official said that it will be tough. “The skills ministry is new and we don’t think they have the bandwidth to manage a body like AICTE. More so as AICTE is not about just engineering,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
However, the official said that the AICTE should play a more proactive role in the Skill India mission and if the skills ministry has a proposal on this, then the HRD ministry will be happy to discuss.
This is not the first time the skills ministry has proposed taking over institutions and departments from other ministries. In April 2015, after months of effort by the skills ministry, the directorate general of training and over 12,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) were shifted to oversight of the skills ministry from the ministry of labour and employment. A couple of entrepreneurship institutions were shifted to the skills ministry from the micro, small and medium enterprises ministry.
Rudy’s proposal in a way indicates a bigger shift in the skill-training mindset—a shift from the short-term skill training model championed by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) towards a more infrastructure-heavy, long-term skill-training model. “The NSDC model is still evolving... they deviated a bit earlier, but we are now plugging the leakages,” said Rudy.
India wants to equip some 500 million people with vocational skills by 2022, but has been largely behind the curve in the past five years. Barring 2013-14, the skill development initiative has fallen short of its target each year between 2011-12 and 2015-16, according to official data.
Rudy said he is trying to put skill training on par with mainstream education. He has already put in place a system to equate ITI certificate holders with students who pass Class X in mainstream schools.
He is now trying to take this forward; after two more years of training, ITI graduates may be equated with students who pass Class XII, and with engineering degree holders after three more years of training.