Perspectives from ISB

Saubhagya Samal (Student of AMPPP Class 2023)

Manager Advisory Services, KPMG India

In 2010, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) was formed under the Ministry of Finance, Govt of India, to promote private industry partnership development in skill development areas through loan-based grant-in-aid provided by the government on subsidised rates.

The idea of conceiving and forming NSDC was to leverage the demographic dividend India is going through and create a pool of skilled blue collared workers that can cater to the increasing workforce demands across industrial sectors within the country, with an added aspiration to cater to the international workforce markets.

The original idea of promoting with the help of soft loans with very low-interest rates was well intended and yielded promising results in the short run. The two main objectives were to leverage the strengths of the private sector, create training capacity to a scalable size spread across the country, and bring professional quality and methodological strengths to short-term skill training programmes. This idea took shape and it clicked with industries. NSDC promoted sector-specific initiatives to come together and create sector specific skill councils like Telecom, Retail, Hospitality etc., to harness industries’ strengths for developing industry-aligned course curricula, suggested reading materials, course outlines and also the assessment modules along with grading benchmarks.

So, in this case, NSDC became the facilitator in the creation of an ecosystem for skill development by bringing in industries on one hand to tell us their requirements, create training modules, design curriculums, along with assessment designing and prescribing grading benchmarks and on the other hand bringing private players who are willing to partner with it and implement the skill- development training across the country. Initially, it seemed like a perfect plan and even worked to some extent. Based on that, the NDA government in 2015 even announced that to cater to more extensive and extended needs of policies and plans for skill development of the youth in the country it needs a long-term independent ministry. Thus, in 2015, India saw the creation of a new ministry known as the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE). While all these arrangements were made with a vision to create India as a ‘Skill Capital’ of the world, the idea lacked a well thought out implementation strategy on the ground.

When the private sector came into playing its role, it started using the funds to create assets without any basic understanding of the market requirements. The entire training modules were designed to keep the supply side in mind without understanding the ground realities. Most private sector players also made profit-making, the only target of this skill development business. This has led to mushrooming of skill development training companies within a short span of time. While industries participated partially in designing the modules, assessment criteria etc., they never opened up whole-heartedly for the trained candidates coming out of these institutions. Above all, the aspirations of the youth undergoing training at these institutes were never mapped. Thus, these youth also acted with only external motivation resulting in the joint development of skills and self-confidence.

To summarise, even though the intentions were right, sincere efforts were also made, still, it failed miserably in getting us the desired results, which was to have employable youth. It is a time to reflect on what went wrong, do a course correction, and create a more robust policy that will work correctly, ensuring the development of human capital with industry-relevant skills. This will help us in creating an ecosystem of a win-win model for all the stakeholders.

DISCLAIMER : “The views expressed in this blog/article are personal. Saubhagya Samal is a student of the Advanced Management Programme in Public Policy at the Indian School of Business.”

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