THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 17 November 2018 (Skill India is ailing)

Skill India is ailing

Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: Skill India
Mains level: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes


  •  The fanfare and optimism over the launch of Skill India in July 2015, and the roadmap for skilling 400 million people by 2022.

  •  Today, Skill India looks like a patient who, after having their treatment diagnosed as successful, has relapsed into a condition worse than before and is on their last leg.

Why this relapse?

  •  The fatal flaw the surgeons committed was in forgetting all about education.

  •  In all successful countries Germany, the UK, Japan or even China skills and education remain closely knitted.

  •  We somehow missed the bus in 1977 when 10+2 was introduced by D S Kothari, the then UGC chairman, with vocational education as the central objective in accordance with the recommendations of the Education Commission Report (1964-66).

  •  Unfortunately, there were few takers for vocational education, primarily due to deep-rooted social prejudices against working with one’s hands as it is considered lowly and demeaning.

  •  As a result, over the years, the budgetary provisions for skills in schools dried up and today it exists in a silo as a scheme of the Ministry of Skills and Entrepreneur Development (MSDE).

  •  The dream of streaming 50 per cent students into the vocational side never materialised. The challenge now is how to make a U-turn and kick-start it all over again.

  •  An attempt was made in 2010-13 when the two major stakeholders the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE).

National Skill Qualification Framework

  •  NSQF is a framework under which skills are mainstreamed into the education system at the national level.

  •  There are several advantages to NSQF, over the modular courses offered by the MSDE.

  •  It streams students according to their aptitude and capacity into the general or vocational line from Class IX itself.

  •  Whereas the certificates and diplomas granted by the MSDE and others are terminal in nature, NSQF can lead a student to a bachelor’s degree in vocational education (B.Voc).

  •  It seamlessly provides pathways between education, skills and the job market, thereby de-stigmatising vocational education by making it part-and-parcel of the school and university system.

  •  General education subjects such as reading, writing, arithmetic and basic science provide the necessary glue.

  •  NSQF also recognises prior learning, through which an estimated 20 million school dropouts can get a second chance.


  •  The National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 also highlights the importance of NSQF and the need for linkages between skills and education. Unfortunately, this has been totally lost in translation.

  •  This disconnect is due to the nature of the institutional architecture that has emerged with the MSDE as the centrepiece and a false understanding of its role.

  •  MSDE’s success as a ministry depends largely on its capacity to work closely with the other 18 ministries.

  •  The state governments and the industry partners, who are the real sherpas of Skill India.

  •  Skill India has also been afflicted by insufficient industry partners and the failure to attract genuine skill knowledge providers.

Way forward

  •  At present, with the chase to meet targets, the space has been taken over by fly-by-night operators raising serious ethical issues.

  •  The Apprenticeship Act, which has enormous potential, has also failed to enthuse industry.

  •  There are no figures available on actual placements but some estimates indicate figures as low as 5 to 10 per cent.

  •  The MSDE is finding it extremely difficult to tackle the mind-boggling target of skilling 400 million (though officially, the claim is 250 million till end 2017).

  •  If skills had remained a part of education as envisaged in 1977, it could have ridden piggyback on the wave of massification of higher education that is taking place in the country.

  •  The target of achieving 30 per cent GER by 2022, which seemed impossible in 2008 (it was 11 per cent then), is now well on its course to being achieved.

  •  The present target would have been less daunting with the MHRD’s capital and human resources of more than 900 universities, 6,000 technical institutions, 3,200 polytechnics, 36,000 colleges and 1.55 million schools, compared to the MSDE’s 10,000 ITIs.

  •  Having identified the “monster in the mist”, we now need to be bold and implement 10+2 in its original spirit, along with NSQF, and not fall into the trap of the petty turf games which ministries and bureaucrats are so prone to playing.

Online Coaching for UPSC PRE Exam

General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to Skill India Portal, an online collaborative platform between industry and workers, consider the following statements :
1. It is an initiative of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship.
2. It has been launched to provide online skill training courses.
Which of the above statement(s) is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Answer: C

Mains Questions:
Q.1) Why are we failing to get the cooperation of genuine industry partners on a viable scale?