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Government Lacks Skill For Skill Development

A survey has found that the rate of vocational training hardly increased between 2004-05 and 2011-12, suggesting that the ambitious National Skill Policy announced by UPA-II and the National Skill Development Coordination Board set up to implement it failed. The data from NSSO (National Sample Survey Office) show that among persons in the 15-59 age group only about 2.2 per cent reported to having received formal vocational training and 8.6 per cent non-formal vocational training. The non-formal training mainly comprised the passing down of hereditary skills or on-the-job training. Here is a serious warning to the NDA government: its ambitious national skill development programme might meet the same fate if corrective measures are not taken. The NDA government has promised to make India a ‘human resource capital’ of the world like China has become a ‘manufacturing capital’ by training 40 crore people in various skills by 2022. The idea is to create a workforce of about 4-5 crore for the world by honing the capabilities of people through skill training.

As far as the mission is concerned, there is no second opinion. Indian economy has been growing at a higher rate since the economy was opened up to global business by the government in the early 1990s. Both foreign and domestic investment was going up. New technologies were growing apace and changing very fast. The burgeoning industry and trade required skilled human resource, and that is what was missing in most areas. While the growing industry and commerce faced inadequate skilled hands, three-fourths of the labour in the country worked in the unorganized sector. India adds 12 million people to its workforce every year, but less than 4 per cent ever received any formal training. Our workforce readiness is one of the lowest in the world and a large chunk of the existing training infrastructure is irrelevant to industry needs. The NSSO survey found that among rural males who received formal vocational training, the most common field was ‘driving and motor mechanic work’ while among urban males it was ‘computer trades.’ Obviously, much of skill development is eclectic. There is no direction.

The skill development mission got stuck in the bureaucratic labyrinth during the UPA regime. The NDA government has done nothing to pull it out of it. There is no clarity on implementation. Skill development schemes are implemented by about 20 central government departments. These departments duplicate work as there is no coordination: which means, the left hand skilling the nation does not know what the other hand also skilling the nation is doing. Experts associated with the government skill development mission have lamented the lack of synergy among the various government departments. Last year, both the labour and employment and HRD ministries created separate sector skill councils to “identify skill development needs” in the country, even as the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has been setting up sector skill councils since 2011. A Labour Market Information System that should have been one centralised resource has been developed in different forms by at least five government agencies. Too many cooks spoil the broth. The NDA government must set up a central coordination mechanism in order to avoid duplication. Only then can the government standardize the determination of relevance of skills to industry requirements and the courses appropriate to it.

Nein Das Auto

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has quit, and more heads are expected to roll. Little wonder, as the fraud this German automobile giant has committed is very serious. Volkswagen installed sophisticated software known as ‘defeat devices’ in the electronic control module of diesel vehicles issued between 2008 and 2015. This software was able to sense when any emissions testing by an environment regulator was in progress and went into a mode in which emissions were reduced. During actual running, on the road, the vehicles emitted 10 to 40 times more than the permissible limit. The cheating was discovered by the US Environmental Protection Agency last week. As US regulators demanded explanation, Volkswagen admitted their cars contained defeat devices. Winterkorn said he was “deeply sorry” to have broken public trust. But the question is: could the cheating software have been installed without the consent of the top executives of the company? Volkswagen says it is conducting an “internal probe”, but unless they are able to prove that some rival company or saboteur planted the software in their diesel vehicle architecture without their knowledge such a probe should lead to a confession. The gross dishonesty of Volkswagen in selling highly polluting vehicles is a reminder to the world that stricter regulations and close constant vigilance must be maintained in order to prevent industrial frauds. The penalties should not end with fines paid or recall of vehicles by Volkswagen. They must be meted out to the top executives who exposed the users of their cars and other people to higher emissions.


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