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Corporate executives and analysts have bemoaned the shortage of a skilled workforce. Many companies put their hires, including graduates from some of India’s best colleges, through months of classroom training. Photo: Mint
Corporate executives and analysts have bemoaned the shortage of a skilled workforce. Many companies put their hires, including graduates from some of India’s best colleges, through months of classroom training. Photo: Mint

Government may not meet skill development targets for 2014-15

Only 4.97 million people were trained by central ministries and departments as of 31 January, against a target of 10.5 million for the year

New Delhi: The central government may not achieve the skill development targets for 2014-15, and till 31 January had achieved only 50% of them, highlighting the magnitude of the problem facing a country that, apart from having to find jobs for the 13 million people who enter the workforce every year, also has to ensure that these people have the skills required for their jobs.

According to data collated by the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA)—part of the newly created ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship—21 departments and ministries were supposed to train 10.5 million people in 2014-15, but only 4.97 million people were trained till 31 January.

Among the ministries, the ministry of labour and employment, the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises, and the ministry of tourism have done exceedingly well by achieving more than 84% of their target.

The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has trained over 1.7 million people, or 51.62% of the number it is supposed to train, albeit via its partners.

But five ministries and departments have trained less than 31% of their target; the ministry of housing and poverty alleviation and the home ministry have trained fewer than 8% of their numbers.

Six departments have not shared any skill development number with NSDA.

J.P. Rai, director general of NSDA, declined to comment.

Tahsin Zahid, the head of the skill committee at industry lobby PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the problem is that most skill development programmes are not linked to jobs.

“Skills are a requirement for industry and for young people, but the key issue is linking training with jobs. As long as focus remains largely on training and not on job placement, it will be tough to achieve what the country wants to achieve," Zahid said.

Corporate executives and analysts have bemoaned the shortage of a skilled workforce. Many companies put their hires, including graduates from some of India’s best colleges, through months of classroom training.

India has the potential to benefit from an immense demographic dividend.

However, with 13 million young people entering the labour force each year, increasing their skills base will have to be a key priority for the country to gain from this demographic dividend, Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director for India, said on 10 November after signing a $200 million loan agreement to enhance the productivity of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly mentioned the need for skill development, and has created a separate skill ministry. He has led two rounds of meetings on skill development with various ministries, a labour ministry official said.

Explaining the performance of the labour ministry, the official, who asked not to be identified, said that the labour ministry has its own infrastructure, proper planning and a system in place, as compared to the others, which depend on outsourcing their development needs.

R.L. Singh, a retired deputy director general at the directorate of employment and training, under the labour ministry, said that the ministry had a proper plan for skill development and through its own network of institutes run both by government and private firms, it has been able to meet its targets.

He added that the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises too had a similar structure.

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