The committee of secretaries has recommended that all 23,000 polytechnic colleges – with 16 lakh engineering students – and other significant central skill development programmes run by various ministries be converged under the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship (MSDE).
Engineering students undertaking vocational education in the form of three-year diploma courses are currently governed through norms set by the All India Council for Technical Education, under the purview of the HRD ministry. The shift is seen as yet another attempt by the MSDE to bring a scattered mandate of skilling under one roof.
In 2015, the central government had transferred 22,000 industrial training institutes (ITIs) – the training and apprenticeship verticals of the directorate general of employment and training – from the labour ministry to the skill development ministry. Once enacted, this recommendation will result in polytechnic colleges getting transferred from the department of higher education to the MSDE.
Apart from polytechnics, skilling programmes for spinning and weaving under the integrated skill development scheme of the ministry of textiles and community development training polytechnics – both components of the national apprenticeship training scheme for undergraduates (10+2) – will also be transferred to the MSDE from the department of higher education (which functions under the aegis of the HRD ministry), said officials.
Minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship (independent charge) Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, “This will result in the opening of lateral pathways in training and upward mobility of students with a bottom-up approach.”
Intake to the institutions, which starts from the level of secondary education, provides diploma holders with an opportunity to gain lateral entry into technical degree institutions. For instance, an individual with a three-year diploma can be admitted directly in the second year of a technical degree institution by passing the lateral entry test.
“Furthermore, it will be our endeavour to increase the number of technical institutions providing lateral entry to polytechnic diploma holders because such options are still limited. The decades-old problems plaguing polytechnics have resulted in inadequate or non-existence of industry connect. Being a supply driven model, we plan to convert polytechnics into demand-driven models. Just like there are industry-led sector skill councils for ITIs, similar bodies to reduce skill gaps and improve the quality of polytechnic colleges will be put in place,” said Rudy.