Skill building and talent developments have been an important area of focus over the last year. Both public and private institutions have over the course of 2019 raised their investments into building and executing nuanced learning programs, all with the aim of bridging the skill gap. With productivity and profitability of the firm linked to its talent pool, business leaders across the board agree that reskilling initiatives are the need of the hour.
The years skilling outcomes will be dictated by earlier objectives set by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) which will build from earlier endeavors to create convergence across sectors and states in terms of skill training activities. Under the aegis of ‘Skill India’ mission, 2019 noted the rising partnership between government nodal bodies which play an important role in implementing skilling initiatives and private players. It was under this endeavor that agencies such as the National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC) a Public-Private Partnership Company with the primary mandate of catalyzing the skills landscape were created. 2020 will see the designing of relevant and impactful programs and increasing the reach of programs like PMKVY which over the past years has built more public-private partnerships. This has helped make the program more expansive and over the years has led to initiating action on the ground to reach out to a large population of the untrained workforce.
According to a report, last year’s skilling outcomes reportedly led to short-term training in areas such as housekeeping, automobile repair, welding, plumbing, front office jobs offered at the 600+ Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras (PMKKs) across 538+ districts in the country. The coming year will see more public-private partnerships that will aim to expand the reach and qualitative aspects of the skilling programs. The importance of skilling programs was reflected in the budgetary allocation of the year, an area where the year noted a rise. This was in response to the performance during the last financial year where many of the skilling outcomes were missed and overall budgetary allocation for skilling was cut down. It remains to be seen whether 2020 will see a rise in investments and budgetary allocations to facilitate improvements within the skilling program.
Reports on budgetary allocation for skilling initiatives report a decline in how funds are being allocated towards expanding both the reach and inclusivity of such programs and their improvements from a qualitative perspective. A report from Bloomberg Quint, from earlier this year noted a curious case. Although looking at past years data of budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, the government body coordinating all skill development initiatives, has witnessed a 237 percent increase over the last four years, from Rs 1,007 crore (actual expenditure) in 2015-16 to Rs 3,400 crore (budget estimate) in 2018-19. But the figure for 2018-19 allocation, notes the report, represents a “drastic cut” by the ministry of finance against the Rs 7,696.54 crore that was requested. Whether 2019 sees a similar trend remains to be seen.
Skilling Programs in 2020
In 2020, skilling programs will have to look at achieving qualitative indicators more effectively. In July of 2019, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) announced that over 1 crore of young people joined the skilling ecosystem over the last year. But such numbers do little to improve the situation when a small percent of this population was able to procure jobs.
It will be vital to focus on such aspects in the coming year to improve the efficacy of such public skilling programs. Improvement across both increasing the access and bettering the quality of skilling programs is necessary. The aim in the coming years would also be to have a larger focus on qualitative metrics as eventual employment of those undergoing such skilling programs. This concern was also noted by a recent report in Bloomberg which noted that while the investments have been rising across the board in creating more robust initiatives. But the utilization of such initiatives remains low.
The focus on imparting relevant skills was more this year as tech-related skills become more relevant. The Directorate General of Training (DGT) tied up companies like CISCO and Accenture to train students across it is on building their digital capabilities. The aim is to reach over 15 lakh students across all the ITIs in India who can access the digital learning module via the Bharat Skills portal. The initial phase for the in-classroom training program has been reportedly rolled out across 227 ITIs in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Bihar, and Assam, targeting over a lakh young people to address their digital skills need. By increasing private partnerships and taking better qualitative checks to ensure people have access to opportunities that help them build relevant skills will be of importance in the coming year.