“This time we are all set to go beyond the tried and tested. Our plan is to build up a sound and solid base of independent entrepreneurs, and not confine the role of our students within limits of a job seeker alone. We are even preparing to source funds to help these new “business leaders”. Indian parents are usually too risk-averse.We want to break that barrier”, says Mr Manish Kumar, Managing Director, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), a key component of the Skill India Mission, the nationwide campaign led by the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE). He is categorical about the changes that he and his colleagues were mandated to introduce in their forthcoming programmes and projects. His tone is vibrant,and he is obviously in sync with the changes that the authorities have chosen to enforce. But even if a lay person had delivered his brief, the compelling content of the policy document would have been difficult to miss.
Interestingly, the structure of the key components of the Skill India Mission has remained largely unchanged. But the underlying spirit, embodied in the aims, objectives and deliverables,has undergone a transformation. For instance, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) the flagship scheme of the MSDE, arranged grants to provide financial support to underprivileged students. This was the system that operated in the first phase of the scheme. It enabled a large number of Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training that helped them to secure a better livelihood. In the second, that is the current phase, however, the mode of sponsorship has changed. Students are now offered loans which they are expected to payback later.
But doesn’t this signal a step backward-- putting a price tag on a service that was offered free of cost to the beneficiaries earlier? On the contrary, says Kumar, this would pave the way for a secure, more stable future for the students. Assessment of the first phase had churned up data that revealed a rather disappointing employment record. Only 31.35 lakh out of the 91.91 lakh PMKVY trainees who entered the already crowded job market last year actually found one. The alert NSDC team quickly 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. “We could not risk producing teams of skilled professionals each year, who remained on the shelf and gathered dust. We decided to act before disillusionment and fatigue set in and brought our ambitious Mission campaign to a grinding halt,” decares Kumar.
The solution required a significant shift. In approach, attitude and mindset. . NCDS is now working on a scheme, very aptly named, Project Nirvana, that is designed to turn the PMKVY 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 PMKVY 2. The loan would be offered at very easy terms, and the repayment procedure would be structured to allow maximum leverage. “Our objective after all is to develop the entrepreneurial skills of the candidates, and gauge the repayment behaviour of the loanee,” explains Kumar. The Nirvana beneficiaries , claim NSDC experts, would not exhaust their expertise and energy searching for non-existent jobs.They would, instead, be given the opportunity to focus on their own strength, hone their skills and to build up enterprises that would generate employment.
“These young business leaders may succeed in doing something that we are struggling in vain to do”, says Kumar, “Reversing the employment graph, and making the job market friendlier for their ‘juniors’ in the PMKVY camp.”
While, Nirvana is the centrepiece of NCDS’s work profile now,Kumar and his team are scanning the job market with equal fervour. They are extremely conscious of the need to keep the aspirants updated and ready to compete in the global arena.
The recently announced Union Budget, 2017, has confirmed that under the aegis of the Mission, 100 India International Skills Centres (IISC) would be set up across the nation that would offer advanced courses in foreign languages, thus enhancing their chances of placement abroad.
Eitherway its a win-win situation for the much-feted,much coveted workforce in India, pitched to be the youngest and largest in the world.