Skills ministry struggles to carve a place for itself

  • Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 22, 2016 23:13 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi walks with the minister of state (independent charge) for skill development and entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy (extreme right) and other ministers in the cabinet during the winter session. (HT File Photo)

A little over a year after it was created, the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship is grappling with complexities arising out of the overlap of its mandate with that of other ministries.

With 70-odd skills and training progammes being conducted by various ministries and departments, the ministry has been constrained to resort to partnerships through memoranda of understanding to avoid jurisdictional turf wars.

To seek control of the ITIs that were under the training and apprenticeship vertical of the directorate general of employment and training of the labour ministry, the MSDE (ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship) had to seek intervention by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Similarly, an inter-ministerial consultation was sought to iron out differences between the ministry of home affairs and the MSDE over the implementation of the Udaan programme being run in Jammu & Kashmir to impart skills.

A limited cash purse -- it has a budget allocation of about Rs 1,500 crore -- has restricted the MSDE’s expansion plans, compelling it to sign MoUs with the ministries of defence and railways, and the department of telecommunications and IT. More are in the pipeline, with the Airports Authority of India and the ministry of external affairs.

These pacts allow the MSDE to use the infrastructure and resources of the partnering ministries, instead of having to scout for land to set up training centres and spend monies on rentals.

Sources in the government admit that despite a new ministry being carved out to fulfil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s directive to position India as a supplier of a skilled workforce, confusion prevails as most existing skills and training programmes are yet to be brought into the ambit of the MSDE.

“There is duplication of work as well as resources as the beneficiaries often enrol themselves for skilling programmes under various ministries. In the absence of a national database on a skilled workforce, even the industry is unsure of whom to approach to meet their human resource needs,” an official said about the problems caused by the absence of a clear demarcation of the ministry’s role.

The ministry is mandated to create a skilled workforce, ensure people in low-income jobs and unorganised segments access growth opportunities through up-skilling and re-skilling, and encourage job creators instead of job seekers.

It is aided in this by the National Skill Development Agency, the National Skill Development Corporation, the National Skill Development Fund and 33 Sector Skill Councils as well as 187 training partners.

Ministry officials are worried that if its role is limited to that of an aggregator, the target set for skilling 200 million people over the next seven years will not be easy to achieve, unless a bulk of the existing skill development programmes are solely run and administered by it.

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