Let Budget have strong skills focus

Date: April 6, 2020

Ever since the present Government came to power at the Centre, there has been a heightened focus on skill development. This has been best exemplified through the establishment of a dedicated Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, a first in the country’s history, the launch of the Skill India Mission, and the Prime Minister himself taking the lead to make India the ‘Skills Capital’ of the world.

The introduction of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) – now the flagship skills training programme of the country – has been another excellent manifestation of the Government’s commitment to the cause of skills. Already in the very short period that the PMKVY has been operational, it has created huge job opportunities for skilled workers, and, in the process, empowered millions of Indians to create better futures for themselves.

Previous Budgets of the incumbent Government have also attempted to strengthen the foundation for developing a robust skills culture in the country on the lines of what exists in countries like Germany, Switzerland et al. From the perspective of a vocational training provider (VTP) keen to play a significant role in creating a ‘Skilled India’, nothing would give me greater happiness than to see the latest Union Budget continue this thread.

What follows is my own wish-list on the skills front that I would be most pleased to see fulfilled in the Budget to be presented on February 1:

  1. Measures to increase access to skills for more people in India, particularly women and those living in remote and difficult terrains, through greater use of technology
  2. Incentives for VTPs setting up facilities in far-flung locations and/or the bulk of whose trainees are women or those belonging to marginalised sections of society
  3. Increase in the level of monetary incentives for high-performing VTPs under PMKVY to encourage them to further strengthen their association with the scheme and provide a fillip to the Skill India Mission
  4. Incentives for VTPs providing training in informal trades such as beauty & wellness etc. for promoting women empowerment
  5. Incentives for education entrepreneurs planning to set up private universities in informal trades such as beauty & wellness etc. to raise the pool of skilled workers and create job/entrepreneurship opportunities for more people in the country, including women
  6. Incentives for small and mid-sized companies which hire large number of skilled women and those belonging to marginalised sections of society
  7. Measures to simplify the process of obtaining vocational loans, particularly in informal trades such as beauty & wellness etc., and make banks more pro-active in this effort to raise enrolments at vocational training facilities and provide more people with skills to obtain the jobs of their choice, and
  8. Roadmap for greater cohesion between Central and State Ministries, Departments & Agencies, including the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), State Livelihood Missions etc. on issues connected with skill development

Empirical evidence already exists which suggests that skill development has a direct link with productivity and improvement in the overall living standards of a country. Almost all countries which rank among the top 20 on the global Human Development Index such as Australia, Switzerland, Germany, New Zealand, Canada, the UK etc. have very strong vocational education and training systems.

As a Government for which the Kaushal Bharat Kushal Bharat mantra forms a key cornerstone of its developmental agenda, it would, I am sure, make the fullest use of its newest Budget to transform the skills landscape in India. There could be no better way to build our youth for the future.

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