(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Skill development in India: Thoughts and Ideas [FEBRUARY-2020]

(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Skill development in India: Thoughts and Ideas


Skill development in India: Thoughts and Ideas


  • Skill development leads to improved productivity,employment,self-employment, economic growth and consequently poverty reduction. Skill development, especially in a country like India with its large young population, which is estimated to be 34.33 per cent of total population in 2020, assumes greater importance to effectively reap the demographic dividend.
  • Skilling the growing workforce would improve their productivity and employability which, in turn, will improve incomes and the quality of life.

Skilling to be Made Aspirational:

  • To build a sustainable skilling ecosystem, skilling along with vocational education needs to be made aspirational and sought after. Today vocational courses have low acceptability due to several reasons including lack of well-defined career progression and low awareness among the stakeholders.
  • It is perceived as a preferred option for those who have not succeeded in the formal education system or have opted out of it. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) efforts to sensitize all the stakeholders would go a long way in making skilling and vocational education aspirational.
  • These skilling competitions should be encouraged at all levels and performances should be showcased to create more world champions in order to make skilling acceptable and aspirational.

Strengthen skilling ecosystem:

  • To strengthen the skilling ecosystem, we also need to understand youth preferences and gauge their aptitude and interest. Mapping aspirations of the youth is important for sustainable skill development and making the skilling ecosystem more demand driven.
  • The use of psychometric tests along with personal counseling, career guidance and awareness drives in rural areas could help assess and shape youth aspirations. At the same time, regular skill gap studies and assessment of industry demand would go a long way in matching demand with supply and shaping policies.

Reskilling and Upskilling:

  • Along with fresh skilling, India requires a sustainable reskilling and up-skilling ecosystem, which besides making the workforce present and future ready, would also address the concerns of women who for several reasons including family commitments, take a break from work and then want to rejoin.
  • The skilling ecosystem also needs to address the requirements of persons retiring early and those seeking career progressions.

Online Skilling to be encouraged:

  • Complementing the existing skilling ecosystem with increased use of Online Skilling which, in a technologically-driven environment, appears to be a viable, cost effective solution that would enable a person to select a trade of his/her choice, with flexible time and pace of learning and not be bound by courses offered by training centres in his/her vicinity should be encouraged.
  • Online skilling would increase the span of both horizontal as well as vertical reach of youth to skill courses. This also implies that online skilling would improve the reach of rural youth to formal training systems as they would be able to access these training courses online.
  • In rural areas where personal internet connectivity may not be fully established, an integrated On-Premises Training Module can be used at the existing Skill Centres, Common Service Centres (CSCs) or other E-kiosks.
  • The role of private sector, industry, industry associations and SSCs would assume great significance in designing the courses and curriculum for online skilling and continuously updating it to keep it relevant and future ready.
  • Government would have to take a lead in promoting this online skilling platform and preparing the courses and curriculums. Private sector partnership in the same should also be encouraged.

Private Sector Participation:

  • Private sector and industry participation should be leveraged in strengthening the skilling ecosystem. Enhanced industry linkages could lead to more employment opportunities for skilled candidates as they would be industry ready.
  • Industry associations and local industry chambers could also be engaged for providing entrepreneurial mentorship and hand-holding for the candidates who, after skilling, would like to start their own venture and become job creators rather than job seekers.

Linking Skill to Entrepreneurship:

  • To ensure employability, employment, entrepreneurship and self-employment amongst skilled youth the skilling curriculum should have a fair dose of entrepreneurship and know-how to start one’s own enterprise. Skilling should create not only job seekers but also job creators and job givers.
  • Self Help Groups (SHGs), their federations, NGOs, besides Industry associations. Chambers of Commerce, Sector Skill Councils, etc., should also be roped into provide entrepreneurial handholding especially in rural areas, where we need to create more diverse employment opportunities.
  • Necessary credit support along with market linkages also needs to be provided. Setting up of incubation centres and cluster-based approach would give great impetus to this.
  • Soft-skills training is also an indispensable part of skilling for both employment as well as entrepreneurship.

Role of Apprenticeship in Skilling:

  • The need to strengthen and popularize apprenticeships in India is immense and immediate as it is one of the best ways of on-the-job skilling and increasing the employability of a person manifold.
  • It is a win-win situation as the industry also gets a ready pool of trained, industry ready workforce. Apprenticeships need to be popularised and incentivised with measures like preference in recruitment, higher stipends for female apprentices and assistance to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) engaging apprentices. Besides increasing apprenticeships, this would also lead to increased female labour force participation.

Integrated Portal of Job Seekers and Job Givers:

  • There is also a need to have a single integrated portal wherein all data of job seekers as well as job givers is available and regularly updated which will go a long way in augmenting matchmaking and placement of trained youth.
  • It would also help industry get trained workforce of their choice and job seekers to search employment in location of their choice as this portal would become the go-to choice for both job seekers and job givers.

Skilling for Future Jobs:

  • In the age of rapid technological advancements, it is also immensely important to prepare the country’s workforce for future jobs by constant up-skilling and reskilling efforts. Many emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Robotics, 3D Printing, Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain are shaping innovations in business models and processes.
  • Thus, there is an imperative need to introduce new skill courses and training, including reskilling and up-skilling, to prepare Indian youth and workers for these emerging job roles and to be future ready both for domestic and international opportunities. Private sector and industry have a great role to play in devising a skilling curriculum for making the workforce future ready.

Skilling for Global Markets:

  • India should leverage its demographic dividend by skilling labour force for global markets which would support the vision of making India the ‘Skill Capital’ of the world.
  • As Indian labour would become equipped with international industry standards and processes, an increased number of Multinational Companies and overseas producers would be encouraged to set up their manufacturing units in the country which would in-turn support the ‘Make in India’ campaign of the government.
  • Skilling for global markets can be facilitated by setting up specialized market research cells which would conduct demand-supply gap analysis in major employing sectors in different economies, thereby identifying opportunities for the Indian labour force and also the skill sets required to equip them for these opportunities.
  • The use of our diplomatic missions abroad should also be strengthened for necessary market information and connecting with the governments and companies in need of trained workforce situated there, and also for projecting future requirements.
  • To train youth with skills specific to international market demands, specialized skill hubs could be set up which would impart training as per technical and non-technical skill requirements.
  • Industry help would be required to set up these training hubs for which private sector participation should be encouraged. Encouraging government to government tie ups could ensure better protection of workers’ rights. Work in this direction is ongoing and needs to be strengthened and scaled up.


  • India has made huge progress in the field of skilling, but keeping in mind its huge potential and large number of people to be skilled, sustained and innovative efforts in right earnest involving all stakeholders is the need of the hour.
  • For India to become the skill capital of the world, skilling of rural India assumes great importance as it would also enhance employability, employment and entrepreneurial activity in rural areas, where the majority of the population still resides.

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