New Delhi: The government has abandoned its goal of training 500 million people in new skills by 2022, in a clear shift in strategy.
Skill development ministry officials, at a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday, also refused to spell out a new number that the Union government and its 22 departments and ministries will chase.
“We don’t want to chase any number. Whether it is 150 million by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and 350 million by ministries—we are delinking it, not attaching any number," said Rajesh Aggarwal, director-general of training and a joint secretary in the skills ministry.
Skill development minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy agreed.
“It will be demand driven than supply driven," he said.
Skills minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy: Many of NSDC’s initial loans have turned bad
Though the ministry did not give a reason for shifting focus and delinking numbers from the skills mission, over the years, skill training targets have been missed.
Between 2011 and 2015, the Union government missed the skill training target in three out of four years, barring 2013-14.
In 2014-15, the first year of the National Democratic Alliance government, all the departments, including NSDC, trained around 7.5 million people against a target of 10.5 million, as per official data.
In the next two years—2015-16 and 2016-17—they trained 11.7 million people.
The 500 million number formed the premise on which the Union government set up different bodies such as NSDC, National Skill Development Agency, Skill Development Fund, and made a concerted move to make the skill development sector for-profit in India as against the not-for profit nature of the education sector.
Besides, NSDC was given a corpus to hand out soft loans to training providers to achieve certain training targets.
Some of NSDC’s initial loans have turned non-performing assets, Mint reported on 26 May.
On Tuesday, Rudy said the government is focusing on “improving the quality" of skill training in India.
“It is a path that needs to be tread carefully as it involves the future of our youth," he said.
He said the ministry is now keeping a close eye on private skill training providers working on a franchise model and strengthening the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) to supply efficient workers to industries.
Mayank Kumar, managing director of UpGrad, an online venture focusing on reskilling of professionals, said the numbers should not be delinked from the target as it may lead to the overall mission lacking a structural approach.
“The government can answer better but it may be because they want to decouple skill training from jobs," Kumar added.
Rudy categorically said his ministry is not focusing on giving jobs but imparting training to make people employable. But he would not give numbers on how many of the 11.7 million trained in the past two years are really in jobs.
Skills secretary K.P. Krishnan said vocational education is “part of the concurrent list of the Constitution... which means the states have to primarily drive this mandate, along with centre’s support".
He said an amendment to the Apprentice Act has widened the scope of people who can get trained on the shop floor, which he added would be the best form of training for lifelong employability.
Note: The ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship has since clarified that while the policy, framed in 2009, mentioned 500 million as the target, the current dispensation has arrived at an estimate of only 402.87 million people to be trained by 2022 of which 104.22 million are those who would have entered the workforce in the seven years to 2022 and who will need to be skilled. The others, 298.25 million, will need to be reskilled or upskilled, the ministry said. The ministry did not say these were targets but affirmed, as reported in the story, that the skilling approach would be driven by “demand" and not “supply". The ministry also added that the 11.7 million trained over the last two years were only those trained under its initiatives and does not include those trained by other departments of the government of India. In 2014-15, 7.6 million were trained by all departments including the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship.