New Delhi: India is in the process of borrowing over $1.5 billion from the World Bank to revamp government-run vocational education schools and industrial training institutes (ITIs) and address quality concerns by implementing ISO certification, audits and ratings.

“Quality was a concern and we are aware of it. That’s why we are revamping the entire system from NSDC (National Skill Development Corp.), ITI system, skill-delivery mechanism and its monitoring," said Rajiv Pratap Rudy, minister of skill development.

“The accountability that was missing will be restored."

The ministry said it is partnering with the World Bank to upgrade ITIs—not only by extending monetary support but also by ensuring best practices at skill schools.

“Skill training for employability (will be streamlined) leveraging public-private partnerships with the proposed assistance of $1 billion from the World Bank. And skill training for value enhancement (will be done) with an estimated cost of $537.5 million," the minister said.

Two ministry officials said Rudy has written to all state governments on the ISO certification of ITIs, and that the aim is to implement it fully in government ITIs first and then in private ITIs.

ITIs were started in 1950s to produce skilled workers for India’s manufacturing sector. Upgrading these institutes are also key to the success of the government’s Skill India mission. India’s 13,000 ITIs have provided trained manpower to industries but they have suffered from quality concerns over the past several years.

In addition, there are thousands of other skill schools run by the centre, states and private firms.

Skill secretary Rohit Nandan said the ministry is creating a skill certification board to strengthen the training ecosystem. It will also act as a third-party validation and certification board within the government system.

Besides, the ministry will conduct quality audits and ratings of these institutes. While doing audit and rating, 50% weightage will be given to the evaluation of the school by students, parents and similar stakeholders on the quality of education, course satisfaction and institution’s involvement. The rest 50% weightage will be on processes, infrastructure, job linkage and other external factors.

Rudy said the government will set up model skill centres in every district to act as a hub for skill development. “It will be hub-and-spoke model," he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasized the need for skill development and its role in Make in India and “all efforts will be made to create a skilled society", Rudy said.

“For us, the way forward is convergence and collaborations with states, with ministries for a common goal," the minister said.

Nandan said the ministry is now working with several other countries for recognition of skill courses, with the result that the UK has recognized 72 Indian courses, and Australia more than 24.

A skilled workforce will boost the country’s economy, said Sumali Moitra, an independent skills consultant. “Ensuring quality will be key, else we will achieve numbers but won’t create an efficient workforce," said Moitra.

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