The regulator for the skill education sector will play a key role in mainstreaming millions of students who pass out of the vocational education system, including the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs).
The regulator for the skill education sector will play a key role in mainstreaming millions of students who pass out of the vocational education system, including the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs).

Government may set up a regulator to oversee skill education

The multiplicity of agencies and lack of oversight is pushing the government to come in with a regulator akin to the All India Council for Technical Education, govt officials say

New Delhi: The Union government is set to oversee and regulate the skill education sector, which is suffering from poor quality control, unbridled growth and lack of acceptance in the mainstream education and training ecosystem.

The multiplicity of agencies and lack of oversight has prompted the government to bring in a regulator akin to the All India Council for Technical Education, two government officials said.

This is unlike the government’s approach to the higher education sector, which is gradually being deregulated. That's happening because the higher education sector has been tightly regulated for decades. The skills sector has, however, been largely unregulated so far, said one of the officials cited above.

Besides, when vocational education, which comes under the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), is allowed to be for-profit unlike the mainstream education sector, it is imperative to have some checks on them.

The regulator for the skill education sector will play a key role in mainstreaming millions of students who pass out of the vocational education system, including the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). This will include aspects ranging from conducting exams to assess the efficacy of skills schools and sector skill councils.

“Initially there were discussions about setting up two separate entities and now the skills ministry has zeroed in on one entity for certification, assessment and quality control," said Rajesh Agrawal, a joint secretary in the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship.

The inter-ministerial consultation is over and all ministries concerned, including the human resource development ministry that controls the education sector, has supported the move, said a second government official requesting anonymity.

“The cabinet is likely to approve the proposal for establishing the regulator by August," the second official said. Once the body in place, it is expected to do the gap analysis of all the 13,000 plus ITIs, the skill programmes run under the national skill development corporation and the industry collaborations and certifications system run by the sector skill councils (SSCs). 

“There is a growing feeling that there are too many SSCs and they need to be streamlined. The new body will look into that and see whether there is a need for all the sectoral and sub-sectoral SSCs or not," said the second official cited above.

Besides the Union ministry, the skill ecosystem right now has NSDC, national skill development authority, state skill development agencies and over 40 SSCs. 

A government panel under the leadership of former bureaucrats and director general of training Sharda Prasad had told the government that there is immediate need for quality control of the skill development landscape. 

“Skill development cannot happen without developing a credible, sound, aspirational, national system that is quality assured and internationally compatible with the close involvement of the industry," the panel had said.

India will have to get “its act together and create a sound and quality driven national vocational education and training system", it said.

As several countries will need human resources from India in the coming years, it is imperative to have a check on the quality of skill development in India right now, said the second ministry official.

The regulator will also work towards making vocational education become part of mainstream education and ITI courses can be given equivalence with 10th and 12th level in formal education system.

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