The government is planning to make skill training a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution to boost employability of India’s workforce. The proposed right to skill will task state governments with the responsibility of imparting vocational training through special universities that will be overseen by a regulatory body at the Centre.
Skill development as a right has been enacted in several countries, including Germany, Switzerland and South Korea, and is present closer home in Chhattisgarh as well.
Explaining the proposal, minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy said, “The proposal is at the discussion stage at this point. It will be the responsibility of the state to see that anyone who wants to be skilled is not left out. The idea is to include it under the fundamental rights.”
“Anyone in the age group of 15-45 can go up to the district magistrate and petition that he or she has to be trained,” Rudy told HT. The minister acknowledged that the proposal faced some problems. “The states have to be on board. There are financial obligations as well.” States reportedly want the Centre to provide funding for the project.
According to Rudy, the state governments would also have to set up and administer skill universities. “We are preparing a bill to set up skill universities in the states. We will hopefully soon have a mandate and a statutory system so states can set up such universities and administer them,” said Rudy. “They will be set up first in select states, which we will handhold for sometime before they are replicated in other states,” he added.
Asked about the Centre’s role, Rudy said: “There will be a regulatory body at the Centre. It will be a multi-tier system that will oversee the university, colleges and institutes and integrate them to make them result-oriented.”
The government is also waiting for a report from a sub-group of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog which is expected to suggest a new legal framework for validating skill education in India.
“The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is directly monitoring the sub-group headed by Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal who is also the mission chairman for Punjab. He is holding consultations with other chief ministers. The group will focus on the states’ partnership as we have already given the framework. The report will give us inputs from the states besides new ideas,” Rudy told HT.
A NITI Aayog official said there was a consensus among most states on the right to skill but they want the Centre to provide the funding like in the case of Right to Education. “The modalities are being worked out,” the official said.
The right route was first opted for by the UPA government which enacted the Right to Information, Right to Education and the Right to Food Security acts. The right to skill, if enacted, would be the NDA government’s first law based on the approach.
At present, only 4.7% of India’s 487 million-strong workforce possesses formal vocational education, compared to about 60% in most industrialised countries.