The industrial age brought in different type of skills to be developed specific to the machines they handled. Over the years, the UK and Europe developed apprenticeship schemes whereby a young man could learn skills for plumbing, welding, machining, carpentry, smithy, masonry, etc. In particular, Germany set up a string of ‘Techschule’ (Technical schools), which would impart not only practical, but also theoretical knowledge for the trainee to be able to fully comprehend the science and mechanics involved in a particular trade.
Those who cannot afford, or are not inclined to go for higher education, invariably choose to drop -out soon after high school or even before completing it, and opt for such technical schools and are then assured of landing a reasonably well paid job instead of joining the job market as a lowly unskilled labour.
In India, Apprenticeship Act of 1961 had primarily tasked industries to provide training to around 6% of their work force in various trades varying from six months to four years, in their own premises, with part payment of their stipend being borne by the state exchequer. In addition scores of ITIs (Industrial Training Institutes) were setup, more than one in each state to impart formal practical and theoretical training and certify them.
While some of those trained by the industry would get absorbed in the particular industry itself, the trainees produced by the ITIs had a often a tough time getting employed. This also had to do with the often poor quality of training imparted.
NSQF (National Skill Qualification Framework) recently introduced by the ministry of skill development and entrepreneurship)—modelled on some of the European schemes—lays down specific norms for not only the training content but also the facilities to be provided such as floor areas for the class rooms, equipment for training, etc.
The new ‘Common Norms’ issued by the ministry on July 15, 2016 also introduced a new concept of RPL (Recognition of Prior Level) of skill of the trainee, which allows migration from non-formal to organised job market.
Approval of NOS (National Occupational Standards) and QPs (Qualification Packs) has also been made mandatory by NSQF. This is basically to prevent fly-by-night operators claiming competency in skill development and milking the system, even though payments for such services may not be large.
Normally, an ongoing facility which meets the NSQF norms is selected for training in specific trade and sometimes constituency of an eager MP may get preference. The number of hours prescribed for training are typically about 200 to 300 hours which with about four hours of instructions a day works out to two months of training. Rates for training typically varies from R35 to R45 per hour.
As part of its ongoing efforts to improve the lot of backward castes, NBCFDC (National Backward Castes Financial Development Corporation) recently financed training at Central Institute of Plastic Engineering at Murthal near Sonepat for a period of four months, with satisfactory results. On completion, another batch of 40 is proposed to be trained, most of them likely to be absorbed in the plant itself.
Modi’s dream for ‘Skilling’ India is to get millions of unemployed youth to become eligible for joining the job market as a skilled artisan or develop their own enterprise such as tailoring, beautician, nursing, etc, where not much investment may be involved.
It is generally found that women are highly committed and use the funds provided to them more judiciously as it is a source of empowerment for them. This route may be the best bet for companies wishing to pitch in for CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) scheme as this would undoubtedly yield the best possible ‘bang for their bucks’!
The author is former member, Railway Board. Views are personal