The Indian skills landscape is complex, and for newcomers it can seem overwhelming. For readers just getting to grips with this, we thought a post summarising the main organisations and structures would be useful. This isn’t comprehensive but we hope it is a good starting point.
The two key government ministries dealing with skills development are the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD)responsible for education, and the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MOLE),in charge of vocational training through the network ofIndustrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and polytechnics.
As the particular needs of Indian small businessesbecame clearer, a separate Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise was given the responsibility of addressing skill requirements for this sector. Similarly, other ministries have retained responsibility for skill development in their particular areas of responsibility – these include the Ministry of Rural Development, the Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation, and theMinistry of Women and Child Development.
As of now, there are 17 Ministries with responsibility for some aspect of vocational education and training. Since 2009 the Ministry of Finance has also assumed an important role as the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC - see below) reports to them.
In an attempt to develop a strategic and co-ordinated approach to this huge task,the government published its National Skill development policy in 2009. This sets out the government’s vision, mission and objectives with regard to skills training. In the 11th national five year plan, published in March 2007, a fund of 31000crore rupees (6.3billion USD) was budgeted for the National Skill Mission. The Prime Minister serves as Chairman of the National Skill Mission and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission as its Vice Chairman.
Reporting directly to the Prime Minister, the National Skills Development Council is the apex body for skills in India and includes representation of all key ministries and thePlanning Commission. It also includes the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council and a team of six skill development experts. The Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister is the Member Secretary to the Council.
The challenging task of coordinating the skills development efforts of 17 ministries and 28 state governments falls to the Planning Commission, led by its Deputy Chairperson. The team comprises of all the Chief Executives of the relevant ministries, Chief Secretaries of fourstates,the Chairperson of the NSDC and three subject area specialists who act as advisers.
In addition to the implementation responsibilities of the various ministries, and the network of ITIs answering to MOLE, the main recent initiative in execution of skills policy is the 2009 formation of the National Skill Development Corporation, a non-profit public-private partnership. The NSDC has been charged with skilling 150 million people, through its support of “skills entrepreneurs”. It funds projects through loans, equity and grants. The NSDC is also driving the setting up of Sector Skills Councils, which will be responsible for understanding skills needs in specific sectors of the Indian economy and developing suitable qualifications based on national occupational standards. The NSDC funds its operations through a National Skill Development Fund which started with a budget of 950 crores( 192 Million USD), supplemented by a further 500 crores (101 million USD) in 2011.
At State level, the Chief Secretary has responsibility for implementation of skills development, supported by Principal Secretaries for each department which are aligned to their respective ministries in Delhi. The Chief Secretary is also responsible for policy and review at the state level, and for coordinating activity. States submit plans and budgets to the Planning Commission, in line with the relevant five year plan and the target of skilling 500 million people, on the basis of which central budgetary support is allocated to them.
In terms of implementation, most states have a Skill Development Mission or an Employment Mission which acts as a nodal agency for skill development in the state. As at the national level, however, each department has their own objectives and also take up skill development activities.
What this amounts to is a huge number of government bodies operating in the skills space. They do not always co-ordinate well and indeed can sometimes seem to be in competition with each other. This fragmentation of governmental responsibility for training is a potential issue for anyone operating in the skills space in India. It can also mean that converging around shared policy goals is a more difficult task in India than elsewhere.
The current drive to develop a more co-ordinated approach is welcome, but at the same time the complexity and diversity of India demands an approach that allows for difference at the state level and below. Balancing this need for flexibility with the need for coherence will remain a serious challenge for Indian policy makers.