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The Foundation is committed to working with the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), National Skill Development Fund (NSDF) and 33 Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) as well as 187 training partners registered with NSDC and other likeminded non Governmental Organisations for coordination of all skill development efforts across the country, removal of disconnect between demand and supply of skilled manpower, building the vocational and technical training framework, skill up-gradation, building of new skills, and innovative thinking not only for existing jobs but also jobs that are to be created.

The overall Mission of the Foundation would be multi-level engagement and more impactful implementation of skill development efforts of the government.


India’s transition to a knowledge-based economy requires a new generation of educated and skilled people. Its competitive edge will be determined by its people’s ability to create, share, and use knowledge effectively. A knowledge economy requires India to develop workers—knowledge workers and knowledge technologists—who are flexible and analytical, and who can be the driving force for innovation and growth. To achieve this India needs a flexible education system: basic education to provide the foundation for learning; secondary and tertiary education to develop core capabilities and core technical skills; and further means of achieving lifelong learning. The education system must be attuned to the new global environment by promoting creativity and improving the quality of education and training at all levels. In a globalised economy, a large pool of skilled workers is indispensable for attracting industrial investment including foreign direct investment. Developing skilled workers enhances the efficiency and flexibility of the labour market; reduces skills bottlenecks, enables absorption of skilled workers more easily into the economy, and improves their job mobility. It is crucial to invest in quality secondary and tertiary education and in vocational education and training (VET) if India’s economy is to develop and remain competitive in world markets (The World Bank, 2008).

The 12th Five Year Plan document (Government of India, Planning Commission, 2013) clearly states that there is an urgent need to mainstream skill formation in the formal education system, and at the same time for innovative approaches for the skill creation outside the formal education system. Although the government’s Coordinated Action on Skill Development has brought about a paradigm shift in addressing the issues of relevance in skill development, the gaps in skill development are to be identified so as to achieve the objectives in terms of quantity, quality, outreach, and mobility while building on the foundation. Further, some of the areas that merit attention, according to the Plan are (a) the challenge of reaching out to the non-formal sector; (b) putting in place a National Skills Qualification Framework which lays down different levels of skills required by industry, which allows multiple points of entry and exit, which recognises prior learning, and which allows for mobility across different levels; (c) putting in place a permanent institutional framework, entrusted with the requisite authority and resources, and which is responsible solely for skill development in the country; and (d) support to students in terms of access to bank loans on soft terms that are linked to their placement. Thus, appropriate infrastructure needs to be created keeping in view the sheer numbers, sectoral division and spatial disbursal not only across the country but the possible requirement in other parts of the world.

Current studies indicate that net enrolment in vocational courses in India is about 5.5 million per year compared to 90 million in China and 11.3 million in the United States (US). A mere 2 percent of Indian workers are formally skilled”.

The magnitude of the task of skilling in India can be gauged by the following scenario (Mehrotra, Gandhi, Sahoo, & Saha, 2012):

Further, the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) 68th Round Report on Status of Education and Vocational Training clearly indicates that a large number of people surveyed by NSSO are yet to be formally trained in vocational skills. The Table below shows the magnitude of this aspect.

Table 1. Status of vocational training received/being received per 1000 population.

Category of person Receiving formal vocational training Received vocational training Did not receive vocational training Total
Formal Non formal    
Hereditary Self-learning Learning on the job Others All
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Male 8 16 48 18 42 3 127 864 1000
Female 3 9 24 13 14 4 64 931 1000
Person 5 13 37 15 28 4 96 897 1000
Male 19 50 22 28 82 5 186 794 1000
Female 13 33 9 12 16 6 76 911 1000
Person 16 42 16 20 50 5 133 850 1000
Rural + Urban
Male 11 26 40 21 55 4 146 842 1000
Female 6 16 20 13 15 4 68 68 1000
Person 9 22 30 17 35 4 107 107 1000


Source: NSSO, Status of Education and Vocational Training in India, NSS 68th Round p. 44 (Government of India, 2015b).

Most of the formal skills-related training in the government apparatus happens through institutions such as the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and the Industrial Training Centres (ITCs) and polytechnics which come under the Ministry of Labour and Employment. Many of the ITIs have now been brought under the public–private partnership (PPP) route. Informal skills-related training, including that in the traditional arts and crafts of India, is also supported through different government ministries. All states have set up Skill Development Missions.

The National Open School system also runs a number of vocational training programmes. A number of community colleges have been approved by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and by several states. Many companies too conduct training programmes to meet the skilling requirements of their own workforce, or sometimes as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, as also do non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Clearly, there are multiple efforts and the efforts of the private sector are also linked to different schemes.

The vocational education system in the country faces the daunting task of trying to achieve the goals of the National Skill Development and Entrepreneurship policy of 2015. Foremost, the vocational education stream itself has poor visibility due to several reasons like low awareness among the stakeholders, and lack of parity in wage structure between formally qualified and vocationally trained graduates. Further, the public perception on skilling, as the last option meant for those who have not been able to progress or have opted out of the formal academic system, has created a low demand for vocational education. This is due mainly to the tendency of industry to discriminate between skilled and unskilled persons, thereby depriving the skilled workforce of any meaningful economic incentive. This is also compounded by the fact that most of the vocational training programmes are not aligned to the requirements of the industry.

The quality of technical and vocational education imparted in vocational training institutions such as ITIs, polytechnics and others in the country has been a matter of concern among policymakers. Skill training in India needs to be based on National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) and industry-led standards only. Currently, different norms and parameters apply across different schemes thus making implementation very challenging. The National Occupation Standards (NOS) specify the standard of performance that an individual must attain. However, all policies and frameworks are only as good as their implementation on the ground. Studies indicate that there is a lack of emphasis on quality in training transaction, curriculum, training infrastructure and a host of other aspects. The challenge is to facilitate these institutions to keep pace with the fast growing technological demands for industry and the expanding universe of knowledge through a well-designed quality paradigm.

Thus, it is evident that financing is a vital input. The government alone cannot meet the total costs of the required infrastructure, trainers’ training and other such expenditure. In this context, the role that CSR initiatives of companies and dedicated efforts of non- governmental organisations are crucial.

(Based on inputs from an interview with Sh.S.Ramadorai, Chairman, National Skill Development Corporation and former CEO, Tata Consultancy Services, Published in IIMB Management Review.)