A meagre 5 per cent of the labour force in India in the age group of 20-24 is skilled. In actual terms it means that out of 459 million people in the labour market in that age-group, a little more than 24.9 million have had any formal training before they begin their career.
This figure, according to Union Minister for Labour and Employment, Oscar Fernandes, is linked to another figure that could easily dampen India's dreams of becoming an economic super power - school drop out rate. Fernandes told the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Monday that out of 175 million who enroll in standard I every year, 122 million drop out of school by the time they reach standard X.
Once the student drops out of school, he has no alternative to begin a premature career without any training. The minister added that so far not much effort has been made to divert school dropouts to streams of technical or vocational training. To fill this vacuum, the ministry is finalising a scheme to train unskilled labourers.
The scheme, Fernandes told the Committee, has been formulated through a private-public partnership, under which short-term training modules would be conducted. The initial aim of the scheme would be to train a million people over five years. State governments, trade associations and industry representatives would help in the scheme's implementation.
The Directorate General of Employment and Training has also being roped in. Some of the current schemes that look at helping the youth to grab emerging employment opportunities would augment the new scheme.
Often, the only training a school dropout gets is though on-the-job experiences. The ministry has also initiated a scheme to test and then certify skills attained informally at the workplace. "Till now, 8,400 workers have been tested and certified under this scheme. Seventeen states have also given their assent to the scheme," Fernandes said.