National Skill Development Corporation CEO and MD Dilip Chenoy faces the daunting task of training 150 million by 2022. In a chat with Uma Keni Prabhu, he decodes his blueprint of creating a sustainable skills development ecosystem.
1. The National Skilling Mission is 500 million by 2022 of which 150 million is expected to come from NSDC. How near or far are you from your target? How many partners are you working with now and how much money has been disbursed? Are you getting the desired results?
This is the fourth year since the skilling mission was announced and since NSDC was formed. From start we did not expect to clock these numbers evenly through the period, since the initial few years were expected and are being used to build capacity. As of date we are nearing the half million milestone. However this year alone we expect to see a surge of a million newly skilled people to be added by our network and around three million next year. Currently we have 92 training partners and have disbursed close to Rs 350 crore. Now we are on track in terms of our ten year plan. We had hoped to be ahead of the curve but the economic environment is posing challenges.
2. Don’t you think ‘the 500 million’ target is too ambitious? Will this be achieved by 2022?
The target sure is ambitious but not unreasonable. The number we have set out to achieve must be understood from a social and economic angle. According to recent studies, 65 per cent of population would be in working age group by 2021 and around 80 per cent of these would have less than 12 years of education.The current growth rate is bound to look up sooner or later and when this happens, the last thing the economy needs is shortage of skilled labour to support the rebound. We are clear in our mind that the 2022 target has to be achieved.
3. How much does it cost to skill a person? Are the trainees coming out of the skilling programmes really employable? If not, what should be our approach? How do you check the claims of your partners?
There is no one cost to skill a person. It largely depends on the type of skill. Acquiring skills in the manufacturing sector cost more than the service sector, mainly due to the infrastructure cost that goes into the capacity building. The cost also varies according to level of skill being taught and its duration. The NSDC model is not based on a grant fund per student but is a soft loan based on a business plan. The target is to ensure that at least 70 per cent of the persons coming out of the system are employed. After the partner submits data to us a third party verification is done by the monitoring agency in our case it is currently Accenture.
4. Which are the sectors in which there is a huge skill gap? Do these companies employ people who receive employability skill training?
According to the skill gap studies we have done, the incremental requirements will be most in the infrastructure sector (103 million) over the next 10 years, followed by auto and auto components (35 million), building and construction (33 million) and textile and clothing (26 million). The informal sector that consists of skill workers like domestic help, security guards etc., will see an incremental requirement of 38 million over the next 10 years. We are in the process of reviewing these studies to see if there has been any change due to the economy or technology etc.
5. What happens to these trained people? Is there any follow up on this? Reportedly many companies that participate in employability skill programmes DO NOT employ even people trained by them.
On an average 62 per cent of the people who are skilled by NSDC partners get a job. . However, we ensure that we build capacity in sectors were demand is most thereby minimising the risk of skilling people who cannot find gainful employment. NSDC works with businesses that are in the business of skilling people, and not only directly with individual companies which may want to skill people for captive consumption. All the companies are free to use this skill-pool when they hire based on their requirements. Most partners start with the jobs on offer and then begin the process of mobilisation for skilling. These are the more successful models than those that simply train and then do job fairs. Those who get trained do not necessarily join jobs. Some others join and leave as there is a mismatch in their aspirations and the jobs/ wages offered. The idea is to get the best to train a pool of people that could be available to many.
6. One of the key desired outcomes of the skilling mission was to create a fertile ground for entrepreneurship. Has this been accomplished? Have such stories been reported?
When overall economic growth is below the desired levels and with employment opportunities not even throughout the country, self-employment can be a great outlet for putting the skills to good use. Also there are specific skills that are well suited for self-employment opportunities like handicraft, food processing in small scale, agriculture etc. Some of our training partners in cities like Lucknow are reporting a huge demand for mobile phone repairing skills that ultimate fan into small business catering to this demand. Caravan, one of our partners, is training artisans and has developed an entrepreneurship model. There are similar examples in agriculture and banking. There are also instances where a person has come to upgrade his skill and realised the potential to be his own boss. A painter in Pune who got his skills formalised and upgraded moved from a monthly salary bracket of Rs 6000 to servicing painting contracts worth Rs two lakh. Today he is employing 20 people. The role of our training partners is to cater to the demand for new skills. Isn’t it always better to teach someone to fish than give then fish?
7. More than 16 Ministries of the central and state governments are doling out free skill training. Many times beneficiaries are repeated to meet the targets. Do think such kind of a “number game” will make any difference at all?
This is not a number game and neither do I believe that the ministries think so. While NSDC has taken the route of skilling people as a business in a sustainable manner, from our training partners’ point of view, the ministries have a social mandate. There may be instances of overlap but then those are few and far between. Take the case of government sponsored ITIs that are eventually adopted by companies like Maruti Suzuki etc. These are direct efforts of the government with the private sector that have obvious benefits and the collective effort is making a real difference. NSDC is in the process of putting systems in place that would ensure transparency if this occurs. One of the challenges is to get the Unique ID number either Aadhar or NPR in place.
“According to the skill gap studies, the incremental requirements will be most in the infrastructure sector (103 million) over the next 10 years, followed by auto and auto components (35 million), building and construction (33 million) and textile and clothing (26 million).”
“According to recent studies, 65 per cent of population would be in working age group by 2021 and around 80 per cent of these would have less than 12 years of education.”