The upcoming Union Budget is an opportunity to strengthen the efforts that have so far been undertaken for skilling India
As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India needs to ensure its competitiveness through sustaining and optimising efficiency and productivity. One of the foundations for this is a rightly skilled workforce.
In order to achieve this goal, key steps have been taken in the last few years, including formation of the new ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship (MSDE), introduction of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY 2.0), skill loan schemes, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY), National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS), the Nai Manzil scheme to enable students of madrasas to cope up with contemporary education, etc. All this has also attracted private investment and provided momentum for the Skill India mission. Now, the challenge lies not only in expansion of facilities for skill training, but also in raising the quality of skills.
To further provide an impetus to the skilling challenge in India, a unified approach needs to be adopted where the idea of convergence could be explored. Therefore, the focus of this year’s Union Budget, from a skilling perspective, should be supporting integration strategies to increase skilling outcomes and sustaining economic growth. The key focus areas could be:
Integrating skill initiatives with nation-building missions (Smart City, Swachh Bharat, Make-in-India, Digital India);
Preparing for the increased digitisation.
With substantial investments expected through Smart City and Swachh Bharat missions, there will be a significant need of human capital with new skill-sets for developing and installing facilities along with their operations, maintenance.
So, new skill-sets relevant to such initiatives need to be identified through engaging with appropriate stakeholders, including the ministry of urban development, MSDE, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), etc. These bodies could execute matching and connecting functions for human resource skill demand and supply.
In addition, budgetary support should be provided to facilitate qualification pack development, model curriculum and content, and conducting training in relevant job roles at Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Vocational Training Providers (VTPs) present in the given vicinity. The modular approach could be considered where all focus areas should be identified as modules like smart water systems, waste management systems, smart grid, intelligent traffic management solutions, and so on. Local training partners could be incentivised to provide training in respective job roles for ensuring a steady supply of employable skills for operationalisation of these initiatives.
Further, in addition to the skills required to provide smart interventions for improving quality of living, jobs are also changing, with the application of new and emerging/disruptive technologies across industries. In fact, due to automation and digitisation of the economy, the very nature of manufacturing and service enterprises will transform in the coming decade. This uncertainty could be mitigated through building upon India’s proven capability in the area of IT and ITeS. The recent step of demonetisation may act as a positive disruptive factor for Digital India Mission, as India is encouraged to move to increased digital options for financial transactions.
Also, given the accessibility challenges for banking institutions to more than 600 million Indians living in small towns and villages, shaping the ecosystem towards unlocking benefits of digitisation for informal sectors is a segment that requires significant skills. Therefore, budgetary support should be provided for identifying and preparing for ‘cutting-edge skills’ under the PMKVY, DDU-GKY and similar programmes for skills training, preferably in the PPP mode, with the private sector being incentivised for improving accessibility and inclusiveness for acquiring such skills.
The upcoming Union Budget, clearly, is a timely opportunity to strengthen the efforts that have so far been undertaken for skilling India, and making it achieve scale with quality, with the overall focus on nation building.
Anindya Mallick is partner, Mohammed Ali Shariff is director, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP. Views are personal
Mohammed Ali Shariff