NEW DELHI―The government is unlikely to meet its ambitious target of training one crore Indian youth by 2020 through a flagship scheme in the Skill India initiative, show written replies given by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship to several MPs last month.
The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), which aims to enable the youth to take up industry-relevant skills training for securing their livelihoods, had aimed to achieve its target in the four years to 2020, but as of 24 January 2019, less than 40 lakh people had been trained and even lesser landed jobs under the scheme.
“Under PMKVY 2016-20, as on 24.01.2019, 37.32 lakh (appx.) candidates have been trained under Short Term Training (25.25 lakh), Recognition of Prior Learning (11.27 lakh) and Special Projects (0.8 lakh) in the country,” wrote Anantkumar Hegde, Minister Of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, in his response to Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam’s questions about the scheme’s implementation.
Hegde and his senior ministerial colleague Dharmendra Pradhan mentioned these figures in their written replies last month to ‘unstarred questions’ asked by MPs from various parties in parliament, including the ruling BJP.
The Modi government has been been facing tough questions over its track record on employment generation, especially after a leaked National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) survey revealed in January that unemployment rate stood at a whopping 45-year high of 6.1% in 2017-18.
A closer look at Hegde’s reply, dated 13 February 2019, will give critics of the government more ammunition.
For, the junior minister also revealed that, as compared to the number of those who received skills training, substantially much less number of people found jobs. Hegde wrote that, as on January 24, 2019, “10.64 lakh candidates have been placed in various sectors across the country.”
When HuffPost India reached out to Hegde for comment, he replied that he will speak after the election.
Under the PMKVY scheme, skills training is done free of cost for 221 job roles through three components: Short Term Training (STT) for job specific skills imparted at Training Centres to benefit school dropouts or unemployed; Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) to assess and certify people already skilled in specific jobs; and Special Projects (SP) to encourage skills training for vulnerable and marginalised groups of society for specific jobs in government bodies, corporates and industry groups.
According to Prof. Amit Basole, Director of Centre for Sustainable Employment at the Azim Premji University, “the target of one crore in four years is quite a small target if you consider not only the new entrants but also the existing labour force of people who might be poorly trained, who might want to add to their training etc. So that way, one crore over four years is not a large target and meeting only 37% of that would of course be a not very good performance.” He also felt the number of youth who were placed after receiving training under the scheme is “not promising”.
The target of one crore in four years is quite a small target if you consider not only the new entrants but also the existing labour force of people who might be poorly trained, who might want to add to their training etc. So that way, one crore over four years is not a large target and meeting only 37% of that would of course be a not very good performance: Prof. Amit Basole, Azim Premji University
When asked for his comment on the reply he received from junior minister Hegde, Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala Binoy Viswam quoted from an excerpt in the reply, ““The govt set an unrealistic, hence, unattainable goal. It spent thousands of crores for this imaginary programme.”
The parliament’s standing committee on labour was far more critical about the PMKVY last year. In its thirty sixth report, released in March 2018, the committee noted that the skills development ministry had failed to meet the scheme’s implementation targets in the first two years of its launch―2015-16 and 2016-17.
Worryingly, similar to the junior minister Hegde’s reply last month to Viswam, the ministry also told the standing committee that, “out of total 19.8 lakh trained candidates under PMKVY 2015-16, 2.62 lakh candidates have been provided with the placement offers.” PMKVY 2015-16 was the Pilot phase of the flagship scheme. Data for its updated version―which began to be implemented from 2nd October 2016―revealed that, till 28 February 2018, “out of 13.97 lakh trained candidates under Short Term Training component of PMKVY 2016-20, 9.63 lakh candidates are certified. Out of the certified candidates, 3.49 lakh candidates have been placed in various sectors across the country.” The report recorded the committee’s concern about this low placement number by noting that it “negates the very objective of skill training.”
The standing committee’s report also reveals that it had one serious apprehension about the scheme. “During evidence, the Committee further expressed their apprehension that some of the figures of trained and finally placed candidates under PMKVY could be fake,” the report notes.
Prof. Basole expressed similar concerns while speaking with this reporter and felt more information about the scheme was needed to better evaluate it. “We have very little information beyond the numbers about what is happening and what is the kind of training, who employs these people after they are trained, are they still in the jobs maybe a year later, those kinds of data are not available for the PMKVY which makes it also hard to evaluate the scheme,” he said.
In July 2015, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Skill India Mission as well as PMKVY, he noted that India will have a surplus human resource of four-five crore people over the next decade and it needed to be provided with the skills and ability to tackle global challenges. If this was not done, he warned, this “demographic dividend” would otherwise become a “challenge in itself”.