The Skill India Mission team, which includes the high profile National Skill Development Corporation (NCDS) staff, pays heed to every word addressed to it. Advice, proposal, criticism—offered by a partner organisation, a direct beneficiary or even an interested observer is taken note of and acted upon. This is reflected on the quick yet decisive steps taken by the group on major policy issues, even when it amounts to breaking away from the trodden path.
Here are some instances that prove that the Skill team has its ear firmly planted on the ground.
The Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) had chosen Uttar Pradesh as the testing ground for Skill India Campaign, a pan India initiative, launched in July 2015. It aims to impart market relevant training to its massive workforce, in a bid to enhance their competence levels. The pan India component was later modified because of the sheer enormity of the task involved. With millions of citizens expected to join in, it would be prudent, said the government, to unfold it in phases, ensuring stringent monitoring and assessment even when the programme is at a fledgling stage. So the Skill India Campaign’s juggernaut began its journey from the ‘Hindi belt’, one of he most politically, socially and culturally alive regions in the country. As a state with the highest density of population, Uttar Pradesh has since been under keen and constant vigil. That it was also poised to go to the hustings early this year, added to this fervor.
Now NSDC has around 1400 training centres, spread across the state. None of these work directly with it.They either operate under a parent body or franchise like the AISECT University, the largest and the best equipped training partner of NSDC (IT and ITE),). Or they are “Self-run”like Amass SKL Venture Pvt Ltd . AMASS is not as large as AISECT, which has nationwide presence, but is nonetheless considered a key employer in the home state.
The Industry sectors that are catered to here are the following:
While AISECT, the biggest player in this field has its own full fledged placement infrastructure, anchored by an online job site (rozgarmantra.com) the others proactively seek ties with the industry, because placement capacity is the most important clause as far as NCDS collaboration is concerned. But despite all efforts the employment graph refuses to move upward.
The reasons behind this are not far to seek. UP has few industries which have the capacity to do largescale hiring.And since the salaries offered even to the chosen few are not particularly tempting, the skilled trainees are reluctant to take up jobs away from home. Both these factors combine to paint a rather dismal scenario on the job front. The ongoing cold war between the state and the central government adds to the prevailing chaos, as the state officials are reportedly hesitant about accommodating NSDC training programmes in state government-run institutions.
Yet, training partners are convinced that the NSDC has the potential to change the scenario drastically if only the Central government extends its patronage and turns into the ‘employer mode’ itself. Like the now omnipresent Aadhar Card NSDC certificates should be made compulsory for getting employment in certain categories of government jobs, suggest the major Trainers of Uttar Pradesh. “Make NSDC certificates mandatory for students at a certain category of government jobs, and then watch the unemployment woes of Uttar Pradesh disappear,” says Tariq the state coordinator of AISECT. In other words, NSDC should take the Aadhar card route. Tariq believes that such seemingly drastic steps are justified, because NSDC’s programmes have the potential to empower UP’s large youth population by offering them real-time opportunity to turn into skilled professionals. Arun Srivastava, senior employee of AMASS agrees with Tariq. Amass is not as large as AISECT, which has nationwide presence, but is nonetheless considered a key employer in the home state. Its focus area is Apparels and Sewing Machine operations.
Both have been partnering with NSDC for the past couple of years and both swear by the quality standards set by it. Also, the direct exposure to the Industry that is assured by the NSDC, provides scope to these entry-level professionals to gauge the challenges that lay ahead and pick up tips on how to overcome these.
The words of the loyal partners had not fallen on deaf ears. The NSDC team has realised that there were not enough jobs to go around, and there was no guarantee that the situation would improve next year or the next.NCDS is now working on a scheme, very aptly named, Project Nirvana, that is designed to turn the trainees from anxious job-seekers to ambitious job-creators/givers. The strategy adopted is to channelise donations from private sector to fund business ventures of selected candidates who have been trained under the NSDC programmes. The loan would be offered on easy terms, and the repayment procedure would be structured to allow maximum leverage. The Nirvana beneficiaries, claim NSDC experts, would not exhaust their expertise and energy searching for non-existent jobs. They would, instead have the opportunity to focus on their own strength, hone their skills and build up enterprises that would generate employment.
If the Skill India team succeeds in turning the tide and arrest the downward slide of the employment graph, its Mission would indeed emerge as a powerful issue in the next elections, tempting the political parties with those crucial, much-sought-after brownie points from the electorate. As of now, all eyes are trained on it.