It is said that skills and knowledge are the driving forces of economic growth and social development in a country. Unlike most developed countries, where the percentage of skilled workforce is between 60 and 90 percent of the total workforce, India records a low five percent of workforce (20-24 years) with formal vocational skills. While education is one part of skilling an individual, it is the non-academic, but professionally-skilled people who contribute to almost 65 to 70 percent of their country’s economy. This is more required for a country where production is the key source of income, whether through agriculture or through machines. At the grassroot level, even for a good quality, large scale agricultural yield and good industrial level, skilling is required. The same can be said for sectors such as cottage industry,textile industry, art and craft industry, travel and tourism; apart from big scale factory-oriented manufacturing and service sectors.
Another problem that India faces is the inefficient management of physically and mentally challenged individuals whose potential energy and skills are wasted because of lack of infrastructure and meaningful training to bring them in the mainstream of the socio-economic structure. While many progressive countries have successfully brought them under the ambit of economically productive workforce, India lags behind in turning them into resourceful individuals, because of lack of understanding and care.
Realising the importance of skilling and the lacunae, more than 20 Ministries/Departments run 70 plus schemes for skill development in the country. The National Skill Development Mission launched by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship on July 15, 2015, aims to create convergence across sectors and States in terms of skill training activities. Besides consolidating and coordinating skilling efforts, it also aims to expedite decision making across sectors to achieve skilling at scale with speed and standards. Seven sub-missions have been proposed initially to act as building blocks for achieving overall objectives of the Mission: Institutional Training, Infrastructure, Convergence, Trainers, Overseas Employment, Sustainable Livelihoods, and Leveraging Public Infrastructure.
While it is implemented through a streamlined institutional mechanism driven by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), the key institutional mechanisms for achieving the objectives of the Mission have been divided into three tiers: a Governing Council for policy guidance at the apex level, a Steering Committee, and a Mission Directorate (along with an Executive Committee) as the executive arm of the Mission: Mission Directorate. They are supported by three other institutions: National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), National Skill Development Corporation(NSDC), and Directorate General of Training (DGT)– all of which will have horizontal linkages with the Mission Directorate to facilitate the smooth functioning of the national institutional mechanism.
While the PSUs are involved in spreading the programmes, the private sector and non-governmental agencies are also doing their bit in taking the programme to the bottom of the pyramid. The mission has just begun, and there is a long way to go. But the work is in progress and good success is expected in the next five years.