July Cover story: ‘SarvadaVigyataVijaya,’ ‘Skill Always Wins.’

On July 15 coinciding with the first ever World Youth Skills Day, India relaunched a repackaged Skill Development initiative first brought into existence in 2009. The new initiative comprises of a National Skill Development Mission, a new National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) scheme, the Skill Loan scheme and a national skill India campaign towards achieving the objective of skilling with Speed, Scale and Standards across the country. And, importantly with an overarching and well articulated vision of positioning India as a global player of skilled human resource and skilled people as a national pride

PM Modi & Minister Rudy with World Skill champs

PM Modi & Minister Rudy with World Skill champs

Vigyan Bhavan , Delhi’s landmark conference venue with a capacity of over 1200 seats was jam-packed for two hours on the afternoon of July 15 with people connected with skills education and development across the length and breadth of country. The occasion, Government of India’s launch event of National Skill Development Mission and other related initiatives. The National Mission will converge, coordinate, implement and monitor skilling activities across India. It will also be a vehicle to achieve the objectives of the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015, which will provide policy direction and guidance to all stakeholders in the skill development and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The ‘rock star’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was the main draw and speaker. The high voltage, well packaged, professionally anchored event somewhat akin to the Republic Day, beamed live on the public broadcaster Doordarshan, was also telecast live across more than 10000 ITIs, NSDC training centres, select Nehru Yuva Kendras, and some educational institutions in all States/Union Territories in India. And Prime Minister rose to the occasion.

According to Dr Santanu Paul, CEO & managing director of TalentSprint, who had flown from Bangalore to Delhi for attending the event, Prime Minister not only articulated the vision well, but also brought a lot of clarity to the sector. “Fundamentally, the direction of earlier initiative and this one is same, but now the approach and understanding is better, there is national pride and self-expression. Global positioning was a first though he didn’t add remittance economy benfits,” he adds.

Prime Minister Modi made an attempt to identify himself and the skills development with poor and middle class and said Government has declared a war on poverty (through skilling) and is determined to win it,” each poor, underprivileged youth is a soldier in this war.”  India will have a surplus manpower of 4 to 5 crore over the next decade, the Prime Minister emphasized the need to provide this youthful manpower with skills and ability to tackle global challenges, and warned that the demographic dividend would otherwise become a challenge in itself. He said that if the 20th century saw India’s foremost technical institutes – the IITs – make a name for themselves globally, the 21st century required that India’s ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes), acquire global recognition for producing quality skilled manpower.

He highlighted the centrality of skills to India’s development and called on government, private sector and India’s youth to work together to make this vision a reality. The Prime Minister also highlighted the potential for skilled Indian youth to be recognized around the world. “In order to prepare for this, there is a need for mapping of manpower requirements, not just in India, but globally as well,” PM said.

The Prime Minister called for constant updating of training programmes and syllabi to ensure that the youth is exposed to latest technology and industry environment. He said the Government would work to promote both apprenticeship and entrepreneurs. He said it is important to predict the possibilities of the future, and prepare for them today itself.

Prime Minister’s presence was also used to provide a fresh lease of life to the neglected success story of about 11,500 Industrial Training Institutes (IT Is) completely eclipsed by NSDC’s not so successful PPP partnerships for short duration training programs in the past four years.  Prime Minister interacted with students across the country through a distance learning tool being used to deliver training of trainers at 200 ITIs, with plans to deliver training directly to students. He launched the Apprenticeship portal, a one stop shop for apprenticeship related issues, which can be used by industry, students and trainers alike. He also viewed a demonstration of six simulators (drone, weaving, fork lift, tractor, driving, welding) being used to deliver skill training at centres across the country by Tata Consultancy Services.

Prime Minister also launched the Skill Loan scheme. Loans ranging from Rs 5,000-1.5 lakhs will be made available to 34 lakh youth of India seeking to attend skill development programmes over the next five years.Sanction letters for the first ever Skill Loans were handed out by the Prime Minister to aspiring trainees. During the function,  Prime Minister awarded Skill Cards and Skill Certificates to trainees who had recently completed training through the Pilot Phase of PMKVY, which started in May 2015. Such Skill Cards and Skill Certificates will allow trainees to share their skill identity with employers. Each Skill Card and Skill Certificate features a Quick Response Code (QR Code), which can be read through a QR reader on mobile devices. Trainees can use these to share their skill qualifications with employers in a quick and reliable way during the job search process

The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), the MSDE Ministry’s flagship, demand-driven, reward-based skill training scheme will incentivise skill training, by providing financial rewards to candidates who successfully complete approved skill training programmes. PMKVY will skill 24 lakh youth, across India, over the next one year. For the first time, the skills of young people who lack formal certification, such as workers in India’s vast unorganised sector, will be recognised through an initiative known as ‘Recognition of Prior Learning’ (RPL), who will have a chance to be assessed and certified for the skills that they already possess. 10 lakh youth will be certified under PMKVY’s RPL category over the next one year.

Five eminent persons with experience in skills education  were also drafted in the event to make short speeches. These were S. Ramadorai, Chairman NSDC and NDSA, who argued for reaching last mile locations and also handholding for life of skill aspirants , Dr. Alim Chandani, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Gallaudet University, Manish Sabharwal, Co-founder and CEO, Team Lease Services (known for his quips and harsh realty sound bytes) , Dr Romesh Wadhwani, Founder, Wadhwani Foundation and CEO, Symphony Group and Professor Mukti Misra, Founder and President, Centurion University.

After a jump start and welcome celebration, the implementation and outcomes will be an important focus of his crucial initiative. The presence of various connected ministers (though surprisingly HRD minister was absent), some chief ministers, ministers and officials from states, industry leaders, trainers etc does lend credence to this. Also, the nodal ministry that is Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurships (MSDE) is getting recognized, it has been given the control of the nerve centres of skills education, ITIs and its job is now well defined will add to skilling, what Prime Minister called as the country’s top most priority. The talk of setting skill universities on lines of agriculture will provide the research and intellectual input. Recently After  tie up with the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, MSDE joined hands with the Ministry of Steel and Ministry of Mines to address the issue of skilled manpower in the respective sectors. These are big steps by the government to give shape to Prime Minister’s vision of a “Skilled India” as the coordination of skill development initiatives under various ministries and departments has been a known problem. Norms have also been made uniform. So, overall, India is on a right road to a long journey.

 A FILLIP TO EXISTING EFFORTS

“Skilling is akin to evangelizing in India. We are happy that our Prime Minister is personally leading the Skilling movement which has been recognized as an agent of social and economic transformation in India. Centum Learning will skill a sizable percentage of the 2.4 million youth under the PMKVYschemer.” Sanjeev Duggal, CEO and Director, Centum Learning

“We will soon commence a large scale digital literacy project under the global Microsoft YouthSpark program for marginalized communities, with a special focus on girls and young women. This program will run across 70 YouthSpark-Project Jyoti centers and is expected to train more than 35,000 young people in the next 18 months” – Bhaskar Pramanik, Chairman, Microsoft India.