“The government wants the private sector to participate in the skill development [programme] in a big way,” said Venkaiah Naidu, minister of urban development and parliamentary affairs, at the first National Industry Conclave on Skills in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Organised by the ministry of skill development, the conclave was attended by representatives from various government departments, public sector organisations and top players from the private sector. It facilitated an exchange of ideas on the intent of the government and content of the skill development programme.
“There are opportunities everywhere. Now the ministries have come together to have proper coalition and proper coordination with the corporate sector. That is the purpose of the meeting today,” said Naidu. Hospitality, construction, apparel, information technology and IT-enabled services, electrical, cargo operations, aviation are some of the sectors where people have basic skills. But they need to be upgraded, the minister said.
For this purpose, the government has set a target of having one skill development centre in every district and then move towards having one in every Lok Sabha council and one in every taluka, tehsil, mandal or panchayat. “Each company has been asked how many training centres will be opened, which areas [they would focus on] and have also been told to open centres in other areas, including the Northeast,” said Naidu. Reliance, Tata and the Bharti group have offered to open centres across India, wherever there is a gap.
School dropouts, college dropouts, people with engineering skills, degree holders and post-graduates, people in the service trade – like agriculture, crafts – handicrafts, embroidery, printing and self-help groups, are the target audience for this initiative.
A study by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry shows that the vocationally trained workers in India stand at 5.3 percent compared to 95 percent in Korea, 80 percent in Japan and 75 percent in Germany. Naidu stated that while this is a challenge, it is also a great opportunity for youngsters to develop their skills through these centres.
Funds from the urban redevelopment ministry, rural redevelopment ministry and skill redevelopment ministry will be utilised for this initiative as and when required. Corporate social responsibility funds can also be utilised for the initiative; they are entitled for income tax exemption. The private companies can either work independently or partner with the government.
Industry leaders too voiced their suggestions at the conclave, which included partnering with academic institutions, convergence of who will do what and whom to approach [for setting up the centres], ensuring certification after training, having a training school for trainers, robust national operating standards, ensuring employability of courses and having separate courses for the physically challenged.