To improve skill development administration in the country, the government on Wednesday approved the raising of a new Group A service cadre—the Indian Skill Development Service.

The new cadre of officers will run the skill development and entrepreneurship ministry, help implement various skill and apprenticeship schemes conducted by the ministry as well as those by the Directorate General of Training (DGT).

The cadre will be selected through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and have the same ranks and profile as other Group A services such as the Indian Revenue Service, Indian Audit and Accounts Service and Indian Railway Service.

Tests for the new service will probably be conducted by UPSC along with the civil service examination in 2016 but details will be worked out by the ministry of skill development in consultation with the ministry of personnel.

While the cabinet approved the creation of this new Group A service, it was not officially announced at the post-cabinet press briefing.

“The decision will enhance the capacity and efficiency of the organization," a cabinet note reviewed by Mint said.

“With the kind of thrust India is putting on skill development and enhancing the quality of human resources, such a cadre will be beneficial. It will be aspirational and attract the best talent to the skill development administration," said Rajesh Aggarwal, director general of the DGT and a joint secretary in the skills ministry.

India aims to skill some 500 million people by 2022 in both organized and unorganized sectors to improve the efficiency of the work force, provide job-ready human resources to industries and ultimately improve the competitiveness of a young demography considered crucial for the economic growth of India.

Aggarwal said the cadre will help streamline and improve skill sector service arrangements. Earlier, the erstwhile Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGET) used to hire officers in an ad hoc fashion. The DGET, under the labour ministry, was then split in two, with the DGT going to the newly created skill development ministry and the employment department staying with the labour ministry.

Along with DGT, over 12,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and 29 national training institutions, among other bodies, went to the new skills ministry headed by the minister of state with independent charge, Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

A government official, who declined to be named, said the skills ministry has been mulling over the idea for a while, with the first meeting on the subject taking place on 13 April. At that point, the ministry planned to call it the Indian Vocational Service, but the name was later changed to be in sync with the ministry’s name.

The new service will help formulate skill policies, devise a road map for improving the apprenticeship system, revamping ITIs and also help revamp course work for various schemes, the government official cited above said.

Though officers belonging to the new service will initially be placed in the skills ministry, they may be moved to other ministries as 22 government departments and ministries have skill development wings and contribute to the national Skill India mission.

“The new cadre is a good idea and reflects the prime minister’s vision to develop skill development as an independent department," said Tahsin Zahid, head of the skill development division at industry lobby group PHD Chamber of Commerce.

“It will be good for skill development administration but the government has to be careful while selecting the new Group A officers and their initial posting. Unless these officers are posted in rural India for a couple of years, they may not be able to take decisions with enough subject knowledge," Zahid added.

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