The pace of the skill mission could change with the Prime Minister’s call for ‘Skills’, ‘Speed’, ‘Scale’ and ‘Sustainability’, believes Dilip Chenoy, CEO & MD of National Skill Development Corporation. In an interview to KS Narayanan of Elets News Network, Chenoy calls for higher budgetary allocation, incentives to business houses that promote skill training and establishment of more skill training centres
As the CEO & MD of NSDC, do you see a renewed thrust on India’s skill mission with a full-fledged ministry on skill development, entrepreneurship & youth affairs?
If you go back to skill development space prior to 2008-09, there was no co-ordination mechanism between different entities that were engaged in the skill development sector in different ministries and states.
In order to create such an institutional base for skill development in India at the national level, a ‘Coordinated Action on Skill Development’ with three-tier institutional structure consisting of the PM’s National Council on Skill Development (NCSD), the National Skill Development Coordination Board (NSDCB) and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) was created in early 2008. With the creation of National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), the NCSD, the NSDCB and the office of the Adviser to Prime Minister on Skill Development have now been subsumed in NSDA, while PM’s National Council on Skill Development was constituted as Cabinet Committee on Skill Development in 2013.
In this context, the new government wanted to take it a step further. Even if you look at the Cabinet Committee on Skill Development and the National Skill Development Agency, they did not include aspects of the ministry of skill development, entrepreneurship and youth affairs and sports. I think this is a kind of a take on what possibly this government feels how the programme functioned in the past and how they could increase co- ordination and scope of the skill development programme across more ministries than earlier and take it to a scale.
Did you get to meet Skill Development minister Sarabananda Sonowal and discuss the NSDC’s targets and plans?
NSDC target is set by NSDA. NSDC chairman S Ramadorai met him.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s emphasis on skill development, do you expect a substantial hike in budgetary allocation for NSDC?
The government has been talking about it. We will know when the Union Budget is presented. Given the thought process that emerges within the government on the role of NSDC, we need to scale up efforts, set up more sector specific skill council and replicate such efforts. Budgets will be allocated accordingly.
With Prime Minister’s call for a ‘skilled India’, has the challenge for NSDC grown manifold?
The challenge of skilling 500 million by 2022 has not changed. What possibly could have changed is the pace with which we go on year on year. Prime Min- ister Narendra Modi has used four critical words-‘Skills’, ‘Speed’, ‘Scale’ and Sustainability’. His slogan is ‘Shrameva Jayate’ and he talked about the need to empower people across the country. To convert that vision into intent and execution, we need to step up and accelerate action going forward. Again, it all depends on budgetary allocation and what we focus on.
What is the progress on skilling people?
In 2010, NSDC had put together a ten- year plan and how we propose to skill people and reach 150 million. According to plan, we are on target. But the fundamental basis of that plan presumes certain growth rate of the economy, ecosystem and job creation. If those assumptions remain unchanged, then we are confident of reaching the target. The rate of growth of economy has slowed. We have to get back to seven to eight per cent growth rate. Otherwise we cannot expect job creation. Secondly, we had thought of sector skill and certification programmes. If those are not allowed to function or are curtailed, then we have to restructure how we go forward. During the last four years, we have not missed a target.
Why has vocational training and skill development interested only a few Indian companies? Since you interact with many of the Indian firms, what are their concerns?
The size of the challenge needs to be understood. We did close to 8 million people last year. If we have to achieve skilling 500 million people by 2022, the annual target has to go up to at least 60 million people over the next two to three years. We need people to invest in skills. Otherwise, we cannot achieve the target. But the question is whether there is an incentive for people to invest in skill development. Currently, it is only available to those people affiliated to National Council for Vocational Training system. The NSDC has been requesting tax exemptions for those affiliated to sector skill councils. There is a section in the Income Tax law where weightage is given to corporates who set up training institutions under NCVT affiliation and not to those people involved with sector skill councils. The NSDC has made a representation to the government in this regard. Also, we should not regulate the sector heavily. We need to allow the private sector to develop certification and automatically comply with frameworks. There are two kinds of private sector players – those working with grants and sustainable models. NSDC would like to work with players working with sustainable models.
Will the skill development mission get a boost under CSR as mandated under the new company law?
The intention of the CSR was to increase the fund flow to social sector. If the company chooses to come to skills, then there could be fund flow. CSR will be implemented from next year. But many corporate are already involved in skill sector development.
“The challenge of skilling 500 million by 2022 has not changed. What possibly could have changed is the pace with which we go on year on year”
How do you view the role of Industrial Training Institutes in upskilling?
India has 10,000 ITIs in public and private sectors. The total skilling capacity is 8 million. We have to create more training facilities if we have to train 60 million people every year.
How are sector skill councils progressing?
There are 31 sector skill councils out of which two are provisional. On account of General Elections among other things, the real division of work between NSDA and NSDC was not worked out. We are waiting for clarity on that issue. If you look at the 20 high growth sector like Hydrocarbons (Petroleum and Gas), Chemical and Petrochemicals, Manufacturing, Furniture and Furnishing, Education and Management, Sports – there is a need for distinct sector skill councils. We will add five more sector skill councils.
Has the National Skill Certification and Monetary Reward Scheme been able to attract candidates towards vocational education?
Already 1.2 million people have been enrolled in the system when the target was one million. About 8.5 lakh have received training. So far, in terms of training, the system is working well. The Sector Skill Councils have set up standards and since the sector skill councils-approved assessment bodies are doing the assessments, it would be clear whether the trained students are up to the industry’s standards. Once the certification is done on Aadhar or the NPR number is done, the roll out of monetary award is given. So, in terms of creating standards, training and assessment and certifications by sector skills, it is working well. As in any scheme, there are challenges – how to reduce time between training, certification, disbursement of money, scaling and whether the training partners are implementing it in spirit of the scheme