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The government has numerous reasons to focus on skill development of the populace. In addition to the obvious economic benefits of having a skilled population, skilling helps address multifarious challenges. A citizenry, especially the youth, involved in productive employment ensures a progressive society and nation. Holistic and targeted skilling, including knowledge of forward and backward linkages, would produce entrepreneurs, who are job creators. Finally, a skilled population would help maximise the demographic dividend and even provide the much-needed manpower to a global economy facing an ageing workforce.

A Boston Consultancy Group study, in 2007, indicated that by 2020, while India will have surplus of 56 million working people, the rest of the world will encounter a shortage of 47 million working people

The ecosystem for job linked skill development programmes has been evolving, gradually, into a holistic one with the participation of relevant stakeholders, courtesy the initiatives of the Government through the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE). Significant progress has been made in terms of: establishment of model skills centres in each district (PMKK), robust accreditation systems for training centres, technology enabled skills data management, industry relevant standards and assessment protocols, training of trainers, and greater emphasis on outcomes and engagement of the industry. Having established such a robust framework and foundation, the Government now needs to pay attention to the following aspects that will enable the skills systems to be sustainable and demand driven:

*Allocation of adequate funds to sustain and scale up the current initiatives

*Establishment of live labour market information systems that will match the availability of jobs with the people

*Greater focus on skill development needs of local economies, informal sector and MSMEs including self-employment, and evolving a framework for measuring the outcomes of such programmes

*Greater integration of vocational skills programmes with the formal education system, right from school to the university level, that would address aspirations and career mobility challenges, for which concerned Ministries of GoI (MHRD, MSDE), the state governments and the regulators like UGC, AICTE etc to work together

*Devising mechanisms that will enable and encourage the industry to pay ‘skills premium‘ while recruiting the workforce

*Development and execution of a clear road map for leveraging the opportunity of skilled manpower shortage in other countries so that India truly becomes the global skills factory

(The author is MD & CEO of IL&FS Education)