Mains Article

Skill Development in India: Challenges and Suggestions [Mains Article]

Skill development is the most important aspect for the development of India. For that, government should focus on the skill development sector in order to make the Skill India campaign a successful model by achieving the mission of “Koushal Bharat, Kushal Bharat”.
By IT's Mains Articles Team
September 10, 2019


  • Introduction
  • Skill Development system in India
  • Indian Policy framework for Skill development
  • Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) model
  • Current Employment and Skill Scenario of India
  • About Skill India Initiative
  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
  • Criticism of PMKVY
  • Challenges of Skill development in India
  • Recommendations
  • Global Talent Shortages Scenario
  • Conclusion

Skill Development in India: Challenges and Suggestions 

For IASToppers Mains Articles Archive, Click Here


  • Reiterating the government’s commitment to the ‘Skill India’ initiative in her maiden budget speech, India’s finance minister claimed that the government is enabling millions to take up industry-relevant skill training, boosting their job prospects.
  • However, analysis from the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2017-18 shows that only a small section of the youth reported receiving any vocational training, and a large share of them were either unemployed or out of the labour force.

Skill Development system in India

  • India experiences a huge advantage by having a young workforce, which means it has high scope of providing manpower to the labour market.
  • After assessing the high demand for the skilled workforce in the world, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was formed in 2014.
  • In India, the skill acquisition is by through two channels which include both formal and informal methods.
  • While both Public and Private Sector aims at imparting the formal training, the informal channel is more unstructured and can be imparted through working on the job or through experiential learning.
  • In addition to this, the government is also looking at the Public and Private Partnership known as the PPP model.
  • Apart from this, there are privately run Industrial Training Centres known as ITCs and vocational schools.
  • Though there is a lot of participation from the private sector on skill development but the public sector dominates the skill development programs in India.

Indian Policy framework for Skill development

  • The government of India designed a policy framework for skill development which includes the Apprentices Act, 1961, The National Skill Policy and the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF).
  • The Apprentice Act, 1961 aims at making it mandatory for establishments in the private and the public sector to train the students.
  • The National Policy on Skill Development, a Public Private Partnership model, was framed in 2009 with an aim to strengthen the skill development initiatives of the country. It was established in order to promote skill development by creating large and exceptional quality vocational institution with the appropriate training infrastructure.
  • The National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF), enacted in December 2013, was built on the concept of competencies which analyses the knowledge, skills and aptitude needed at each qualification.

Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) model


  • India’s Technical education has suffered tremendously because of the lack of infrastructure and the industry relevant curriculum program.
  • With a view, to ensure that the country has more employable workforce, the government in the early 2000s, decided to launch the concept of public- private partnership.
  • The government in the year 2005-06 decided to upgrade 100 ITIs with the help of the internal resources available. The remaining ITIs were focused to be developed through the PPP model.
  • The Skill Development Initiative (SDI) focused on the increasing the number of Public Private Partnerships. It aims at providing people with the skills to perform the job effectively. It not only focused on the existing employees and students, but also focused on providing skills to school leavers and young graduates.

Current Employment and Skill Scenario of India

  • In India, only 1.8% of the population reported receiving formal vocational/technical training while 5.6% reported receiving informal vocational training (such as hereditary, self-learning, and on the job training) in 2017-18.
  • A minimum of 8 million new job seekers enter the jobs market every year. In 2017, only 5.5 million job had been created, and the situation is worsening as the unemployment rate is the highest in 45 years today.
  • The unemployment rate reached 34 per cent among the 20-24-year-olds in the first quarter of 2019.



  • More than 40% of the youth (15-29 years) who received formal technical training were not part of the labour force (i.e., they were not working or seeking employment opportunities).
  • Among youth, who did not receive such formal training, 62 % were out of the labour force.
  • Across age groups, substantial shares of the women who received such training were out of the labour force.
  • Nearly a third of trained young men and more than a third of trained young women were unemployed.
  • One reason why such a large section of ‘skilled’ workers were out of the labour force could be the difficulty in finding a job.


  • Men and women received starkly different kinds of training, reinforcing the segregation of the labour market.
  • More than 80% of the trainees in the fields of agriculture & food processing, telecom, media & mass communication were men while the fields of beauty & wellness, hospitality and healthcare were dominated by women.
  • 48 per cent of Indian employers reported difficulties filling job vacancies due to talent shortage. The worst affected sector has been Information Technology (IT), where 1,40,000 skilled techies could not be recruited in 2018 despite a high proportion of the job offers.

About Skill India Initiative

  • Skill India was a campaign launched in July 2015 which aims to train over 40 crore people in India in different skills by 2022.
  • It includes various initiatives of the government like National Skill Development Mission, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)and the Skill Loan scheme.
  • It is an initiative by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) of India. NSDC was set up as part of a National Skill Development Mission to fulfil the growing need in India for skilled manpower and narrow the existing gap between the demand and supply of skills.
  • It has three tier system: A Governing Council at apex led by Prime Minister, a Steering Committee and a Mission Directorate (along with an Executive Committee) as the executive arm of the Mission.
  • It helps in maintaining a national database, known as the Labour Market Information System (LMIS), which act as a portal for matching the demand and supply of skilled workforce in the country. LMIS also serve as a platform for monitoring the performance of existing skill development programmes, running in every Indian state.
  • The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was set up in 2014 to drive the ‘Skill India’ agenda in a ‘Mission Mode’ in order to converge existing skill training initiatives.
  • The main innovation of “Skill India” consisted in integrating vocational training classes linked to the local economy with formal education from class nine onwards in at least 25 per cent of the schools and higher education bodies.
  • A very important aspect of Skill India was its Public–private partnership (PPP) character: Companies were requested to earmark 2 per cent of their payroll bill for skill development initiatives.
  • One of the most innovative dimensions of Skill India was the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana under which the training fees was paid by the government. The PMKVY’s budget was approximately Rs 12,000 crore for four years (2016-2020). Its main component was the short-term training, which could last between 150 and 300 hours.

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)


  • PMKVY is flagship Skill Certification Scheme of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) launched in July 2015 under Skill India campaign.
  • Its objective is to enable a large number of Indian youth to take up industry-relevant skill training that will help them in securing a better livelihood.
  • Under this Scheme, individuals with prior learning experience or skills are also assessed and certified under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
  • Government will pay complete training and assessment fees. The training includes soft skills, personal grooming, behavioral change etc.
  • Skill training is based on the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) and industry led standards.

Criticism of PMKVY


  • In 2017, a government-appointed committee led by Sharda Prasad found that the targets under the programme were too ambitious and funds spent on the programme were not subject to adequate monitoring.
  • Although the PMKVY aims to provide training free of cost, most of the youth who have received formal training have had to bear the cost of training as only 16 percent of the youth who received formal training were funded by the government.
  • The training period for more than half of the youth exceeded a year and about 30% underwent training for more than two years.
  • In March 2018, under PMKVY, only 15 per cent of the trained people got a job. This indicated that the training was not good enough and this is why the employability rate remains very low.
  • While the government expected that some of the PMKVY-trainees would create their own enterprise, only 24 per cent of trained people started their business.

Challenges of Skill development in India


Insufficient Scale and Restricted Capability

  • The training infrastructure and educational infrastructure needs to be made adequate keeping in mind the number of aspirants to be skilled.
  • There aren’t many trained and highly skilled trainers available. The faculty needs to be motivated and skilled to take up higher responsibilities.
  • Another crucial aspect in skill development is the ‘Train the Trainers’. The trainer should be able to assess the needs of the students considering the labour market situation. It also requires that there is an ideal mix of both theoretical as well as practical learning experience. Hence, training of the trainer has become a major challenge.


  • The enrolment of the students for vocational education and training has become an extremely challenging task.
  • The perception of the people associated with the skill development is still very traditional. The students are moving on to managerial roles as the technical trades positions are associated with low salaries and lack of recognition.
  • There are students who are not able to pay for the fee and may not be aware of the schemes run by the government which also leads to a low mobility towards such programs.
  • Skilling has always been branded as a blue collar job, which is further associated with low pay scales, limited growth and less challenging roles.
  • Like Singapore, our government needs to focus a lot on the branding strategies for skill development which may ensure a high mobility towards such programs.

Employer’s buy-in

  • The industry doesn’t distinguish whether the person has acquired the skills through on the job training or has gone through a formal training.
  • Many companies make their own skill centres through which they develop the people.
  • Though the Skill Development also focuses on the Public Private Partnership Model but it needs a lot of effort from both the players in development of skills.


  • Since the skill development model requires high capital investments, the people are not very willing to support such a model. The challenges associated with unavailability of infrastructure, slow processing of bank loans seldom demoralizes the entrepreneurs.
  • In rural region, it becomes more challenging because the people aren’t aware of the credit facility and the different schemes supported by the government.
  • The urban areas face issues like high operational cost which discourages such entrepreneurs to come forward.

Skills Mismatch

  • There is a lot of issue related to the skills needed by the industry and the skills imparted through the educational and training institute.
  • There is a lack of industry-faculty interaction because of which the skill set doesn’t suit the employer.
  • Though the people may be skilled but they are not employable. It becomes extremely important that the industry professionals are also included during the design of the curriculum.

No focus on Non-Technical Skills

  • The Vocational Training Centres in India is focusing on developing technical skills only whereas the employers feel the need of having Behavioural Skills also.
  • The employers also focus on Skills like Domain Expertise, Communication, a culturally fit person, values on Honesty and Integrity, Adaptability, focused on Result, Interpersonal skill and Learning attitude.
  • These skills are not covered as an integral part of the skill development. This is a major challenge as it results to a lot of unemployed skilled workforce.

High Cost

  • The cost of the training is high which is not affordable by many of the students aspiring for training.
  • According to the estimates of Planning Commission, around 80% of the individuals who enter the workforce don’t have the opportunity for training.
  • Moreover, due to unsatisfactory placement records and low salary offers after the training completion, high training cost does not appeal the target population.

Direct admission without assessment

  • One of the major causes for low quality of training is the low frequency of pre-assessment or entrance tests before admitting students to the skill training institutes.
  • Randomly choosing training courses may lead to a mismatch between the interests and the abilities of the students as a result of which students are unable to cope with the course requirements and thus drop-outs occur.

Lack of standardization

  • There is no standardization of the course curriculum or training delivery systems due to which it is not possible to compare courses across different training institutes which also creates ambiguity among the student about skills.

Career Counselling

  • There is a lack of proper career guidance to the students due to the inadequate placement statistics and weak industry linkages of the training institutes.
  • The institutes are often set up in rural areas but the jobs offered to the trainees are in urban areas.
  • The absence of information on the nature and location of the job leads to uninformed skill acquisition choices.


Evaluation of Training Institutes

  • There is an urgent need to provide quality training to the students so enhance their employability.
  • In addition to providing grants to training institutes, NSDC should also develop some techniques to evaluate the performance of such institutes and encourage them to perform better.
  • One such initiative can be to provide incentives to the training institutes based on their performance which can be evaluated based on certain criteria.

Skills survey

  • Surveys can be conducted to find the exact skill requirement from the employers.
  • Analysis of such surveys would help in designing course structures of the training programs and thus standardized course curriculum or training delivery systems can be developed.

Enlighten students

  • Students should be made aware of the existing training institutes, courses offered and career opportunities after course completion.
  • This will help the students to choose the right institute and course based on their interests and demand in the market.
  • Moreover, it will also help in keeping a check on the fraudulent institutes which are cheating students and are not credible.

Global Talent Shortages Scenario



strategies-employer-iastoppersTop 10 Most in Demand Skills in The World



  • India’s demographic profile is helping it to aim for an accelerated economic growth. India is expecting a huge growth in the labour market by having 64 % of the population as the working population.
  • However, Skill India campaign will not be enough to create jobs if the slowdown continues. But in the long run, Skill India will also not be enough if government expenditures in education remain low and if the ground isn’t prepared for proper training.
  • Given the bottlenecks of PMKVY scheme, the recent budget speech of finance minister gave no indication that the government has a credible plan to address India’s unemployment challenge.
Mains 2020 Mains Articles

IT on Facebook

Facebook Pagelike Widget


Calendar Archive

September 2020
« Aug