The Narendra Modi government has abandoned its plan to provide skills training to 500 million people by 2022, Livemint reported today. In what appears to be a change in strategy, the Ministry of Skill Development said that it would no longer "chase numbers".
The announcement came at a press conference on Tuesday, when Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy stated that skill development "will be demand driven than supply driven."
Analysts pointed out that without any numbers to pursue, the overall mission of providing skill development and vocational training would lack structure. Rudy also did not say how many of 11.7 million trained in the past two years had been employed.
The Modi government has flipflopped on the 500 million target over the past three years. In January 2015, Rudy had said that the government was committed to creating a resource pool of 500 million skilled workers by 2022 and that 450 million workers would be trained between 2017 and 2022. He has previously highlighted lack of trainers and training infrastructure as the two main hindrances in the way of achieving the target figures. But the Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has also said that it was "impossible to meet" the 500 million target as it was laid out in the 12th Five Year Plan.
It was in 2009 that the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had set the target of providing skill development and vocational training to 500 million people by 2022. The National Skill Development Council was set up to impart skills to 150 million people, while another 350 million were to be trained by a host of ministries.
The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, which came to power in the summer of 2014, decided to improve on the UPA government's skill training plan. In November 2014, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was set up to implement the "Skill India Mission." The Modi government had said that its National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 "supersedes" the 2009 policy.
"India is one of the youngest nations in the world, with more than 54% of the total population below 25 years of age and over 62% of the population in the working age group (15-59 years). The country's population pyramid is expected to bulge across the 15-59 age group over the next decade. This demographic advantage is predicted to last only until 2040. India therefore has a very narrow time frame to harness its demographic dividend and to overcome its skill shortages." -- National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015
Given that India's median age is 27.3, the government has on its hands a major challenge of providing young people with skill development and vocational training so that they can find jobs.
Only two percent of India's workforce is skilled.
In the 2017-2018 budget, the government has set aside over ₹17,000 crore for skill training, employment generation and providing livelihood to millions of youth who enter the workforce. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship received its highest ever allocation of ₹3,016 crore.
While there has been considerable talk over the years around the need to provide jobs, both the former UPA government and the current NDA government have missed the skill training targets since 2011. Livemint reported that in 2014-15, the NDA government trained 7.5 million people, and in the succeeding two years, 11.7 million people were trained.
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