Skilling & empowerment for self-reliant India

In a changing business environment, the mantra to stay relevant in the competing market is to reskill and upskill.

Equipping oneself with new skills has become essential in order to ensure further progress in different arenas and sectors.

Therefore, there is an added importance of the workforce being equipped with the necessary skillset, irrespective of whether it is in the educational or the healthcare sector, the public or private enterprise in urban as well as rural India.

This vision conceptualised the idea to develop an ecosystem for Indian youth for making informed choices on available skilling avenues.

As a result, the Centre started the Skill Development Mission as part of the Ministry of Skill Development to give a new direction to skill development under the broader theme of ‘Self-Reliant India’ (Atmanirbhar Bharat).

In addition, National Training Institutes and Bharti Skill Institutes were also set up that focused on establishment of thousands of skill development centres across the country.

Skilling, reskilling and upskilling have become the mantra for millions of youth and underserved groups seeking employment with their newfound skills and dexterities.

It is quite obvious that any developing country would necessarily require a well-skilled population to ensure proper growth and further development.

Through the Skill India Mission, Government of India has been able to transform a large population of the youth into a worthy human resource group.

At the same time, the pattern of business and market trend have been changing so rapidly with advancements that it became difficult to stay relevant with what was taught in schools and colleges with out of sync syllabi. Now, more than 9 lakh ITI students graduated last month, creating history and moving forward with self-employable potential equipped with sought-after skill and enthusiasm in the 21st Century.

In revisiting and revitalising existing policies focused at skill development, the emphasis has been given on anticipating the needs of the market and creating lasting results instead of accumulating short-term benefits. Laying the groundwork to further such growth, efforts have been made over the last few years towards ensuring that India becomes a skill hub.

It is crucial to increase the proportion of formally skilled personsfrom the current 5.4 per cent of the country’s workforce to at least 15 per cent. India’s skill development infrastructure should also be brought on par with global standards by.

In order to provide fresh opportunities to the large vulnerable section of the society, the government has focused on promoting traditional skills through offering training, support and guidance for all occupations that were of traditional type like carpenters, blacksmith, cobbler, welders, masons, tailors,weavers, midwives etc. More emphasis would be given on new sectors like gem industries, Jewellery designing, banking, tourism real estate, Construction, transportation, textile, and many more, where skill development is inadequate or nil but they are on high demand in international markets. There is a regular process of upskilling for illiterate, neo-literate and dropout population up to +12 standard. After passing 10th, those joining ITIs would obtain a 12th clearing certificate through the National Open School system. There is a special provision for the recruitment of youth in the army also who have taken technical training from ITI.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, these skilling workshops at Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS) switched over to an online mechanism ensuring that the steady progress already made was not lost. Many similar initiatives have together ensured that such training to skill, reskill and upskill the youth has happened on mass scale with relative ease. These institutions will play crucial role in imparting vocational skill training programs to beneficiaries. As part of the push towards self-sufficiency, there has been a massive rise in the number of industrial training centres being established as well as the seats that could be allotted. Over the past seven years, more than 10,000 industrial training centres were formed along with 5,000 new ITIs.

In toto, there has been a 27 per cent rise in the number of institutions and a bumper 54 per cent boost in the number of seats at such institutions (with about 4 lakh new seats being added to ITIs as well). More than 5,000 skill hubs have been opened up to promote skill development at a nascent stage i.e. school level. The credit for this renewed focus must be given to the establishment and smooth functioning of a separate Ministry of Skill Development that focuses solely on skill development.

To further, the ministry promotes establishment of state-of-the-art model training centres that have been aspirational skill centres known as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK) in every district for imparting skill training in public private partnership (PPP) mode throughout the country since July 2015. The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana provides for a market-based skilling network that has been utilised to give short-term training to more than 11 lakh participants through 32,000 training centres. These centres would then ordinarily be linked to the ASEEM portal through which participantscould find job opportunities as well.

Under PMKVY, as on November 21, 2021, around 13.2 million candidates (6.7 million trained in short term training and 6.5 million oriented in recognition of prior learning) trained/oriented across the country since inception in 2015, as per records. The third phase, PMKVY 3.0, was launched in January 2021, with aim to impart knowledge and training of digital technology and industry 4.0. to 8 lakh youth across the country with an outlay of Rs 948.9 crore. 3.74 lakh people have been enrolled, 3.36 lakh trained, 2.23 assessed, and 1.65 lakh certified by the end of the year 2021.

During this phase, the entire world was reeling under unprecedented heath crisis of Covid-19 pandemic. A Customized Crash Course Programme for Covid Warriors was offered to meet the upsurge in demand of skilled healthcare professionals and associated professionals from logistics sector, reduce the burden of existing healthcare professionals and provide timely healthcare services in every corner of the country. The trained youth accomplished a great task responsibly as Covid Warriors and saved lives in millions with their skill, promptness and dexterity.

PMKVY 4.0 is to be implemented soon with a strong emphasis on an enabling ecosystem to meet the emerging sectoral needs as Covid-19 pandemic has changed the industry dynamics across sectors. It will be an improved version of the previous programmes of PMKVY with expectation to see a greater focus on digital training while also emphasising on-the-job training component of skilling and upgradation. Further, there will be much greater focus on specialised training projects for women in non-traditional jobs, and reskilling and upskilling programmes for those who lost jobs amid pandemic and tribal population. It will also impart skills training to women for running and maintaining electric vehicles, installing solar rooftops and other jobs currently male-dominated, as the Government aims to enhance the female participation. It is learnt that the automotive sector has a mammoth skill gap of 29 million for the period 2019-26. The automotive sector is followed by apparel (skill gap: 8.6 million), management (6.5 million) furniture and fittings (4.41 million) and other sectors as MSDE.

Moreover, coupled with the e-Skill India portal that has a list of over 1,400 digital courses ranging from trade skills courses to life skills, soft skills, employability enhancers etc., these have ensured that self-employment support is provided for. In the era of Industry 4.0, the facility of courses in ITIs is mostly guided by coding, AI, robotics, 3D printing, drone technology, telemedicine, etc. in order to be in tune with the times of today and tomorrow. Understanding the need for the youth to acquire these skills and their importance in the vastly practical world have encouraged the Government of India to integrate this need for skilling into the National Open Education Policy with a much more hands-on and practical training approach as part of the school curriculum.

Overall, the last few years have shown that there is a humongous potential in the knowledge economy to raise in terms of self-employment through skill learning. This mission is quite successful in its aim to emancipate the vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalised section of the society for inclusive growth and development. Self-assurance and self-confidence can now easily be noticeable on the countenance of millions of skilled and trained youth engaged in public and private sectors including through self-employment, launching start-ups and entrepreneurship.

The upcoming youth born in the 21st century India is bound to be equipped with adequate skills and opportunities to not only find a desirable job and proper placement but also create more such opportunities for others in the market.

India has now chosen a new path for itself, with job creation and skill development being accorded the requisite priority in sync with the resolution of creating a self-sufficient India.

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