Training is an economic emulsion. All stakeholders must dare to coat and uncoat. The ‘not my monkeys, not my circus’ analogy doesn’t work here
It’s strange,” he said, “that you always changed everything and I changed nothing and yet we’ve both ended up in the same place,” said Rachel Cusk, in her novel, Transit. Gautam Buddha, too, evoked the positioning of ‘truth’ when he said, “Truth cannot be on extremes.” That’s why, perhaps, both Skill India and skilling India ended up in the same place — the start line. For readers, Skill India is an ambitious programme of the Indian Government to skill around 400 million Indians by 2022, and skilling India can be the so-called process/action built upon an ecosystem of trainees, trainers and training providers to train them.
The basis of any economy is demand and supply. Where we stand in this cycle has been modestly answered by Skill India (analytics). However, performance on job, in industry, thorough training via this programme, is slowing. All impetus in skilling would be rudimentary if we fail to undertake quality check of trainees, trainers and training providers. The composition of skilling courses; their relevance to today’s industrial need; their competitiveness with other courses of the same trade at the same National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) level; and the promising vertical mobility/career progression of the learner is what can primarily make a difference. NSQF is abound with ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ to cater to the aforesaid difference-making, however, paradox errors have been fully utilised in skill promotion because it provided cover and honourable escape to all-in-all.
The incumbent Industrial Training Institute (ITI) system in India has been at the forefront. There was a time when getting admission into coveted trades, such as electrical, civil and welding in ITIs, was a matter of pride for even serious learners. Over a period of time, these trades have certainly not lost the sheen, but deteriorating quality in ITIs has had a domino effect. Now mostly dropouts, not well-to-do learners get in there only to obtain a certificate only to become a part of the burgeoning unemployment bulge. We must not see this menace in isolation and rather capture the whole picture which is nothing but failing quality of trades, courses, trainees, trainers and training providers.
Recently, the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) decided to transfer all Modular Employable Skills (MES) to Sector Skill Councils. MES courses were mostly short-term skill courses under the Directorate General of Training (DGT), which were in-principle closed due to non-popularity and lack of trainers/trainees. This decision is smart and a welcome move from the Ministry. There are 40 Sector Skill Councils for all priority sectors identified by the then Planning Commission, as also evoked by the Sharada Prasad Committee in its report. Staff Selection Commissions (SSC) were often accused of copying the popular courses of DGT, ministries and institutions, often with or without their concurrence. This formal allotment of MES courses to SSCs will pave the way for better skilling courses, should SSCs mind its ways of doing ‘quick -quack’ skilling. SSCs have a far greater role as they are industry-led and industry-governed bodies, nicely funded by the Government when they first began operating. While it is agreed that they have to have a revenue generating model but minus ‘quick-quacking’ skill model.
There’s another move by the MSDE to shut all non-popular trades; roughly 200 such trades have been closed down by the DGT. On the other hand, under the aegis of Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, every nook and corner of this country was turned into a training space/shelter, perhaps an ‘asylum’. Such a deluge, invited bogus beneficiaries from both sides, and also invited the opening of another trade-weeding-out. There were duplicating qualification files from different institutions in the same trade with same NSQF level and nomenclature, too, and in the same wavelength, duplicating training providers with a modus operandi of sub-letting training to others under not their banner but Skill India logo. The unchecked use of this logo took toll from just any who aspired to perspire in Skill India. A sub-committee to check duplication among Q files was constituted at the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), while weeding-out bogus beneficiaries pertained to the National Skill Development Corporation; they have done their homework too!
The quality issue can be addressed via National Policy Framework on Training of Trainers. Currently, we do have National Quality Assurance Framework, which has eight modules, and addresses varied aspects of quality assurance. As training is vital to economic productivity, the learner must go through appropriate training and trainers must become master in their job. The NSDA constituted a sub-group on training of trainers to leverage the formulation of a policy framework on training of trainers. NSDC has also had some breakthrough in this regard. Ministry must make a move in this direction — India will have a caricature catering exclusively to quality training, which will culminate into standardised skilling among learners. This will weed out differentials in training, thereby, enhancing the absorption of trainees across verticals. India is transiting and our patriarchal fabric is being woven into an industrial one. Training is an economic emulsion. All stakeholders must dare to coat and uncoat. Please don’t say ‘not my monkeys, not my circus’. It’s our show and the show must go on.
(The writer is Former Consultant, National Skill Development Agency)