Vocational courses may get credit funding, ISO certification

16 Sep

he government is considering ISO certification and credit funding for vocational education courses to formulate standards for the sector and make India a skilled manpower hub during the 12th Five-year Plan period that starts April 2012.

Both the Prime Minister’s skill council and the labour ministry are keen on seeing this in the 12th Plan period action plan.

“We are working on getting ISO certification for all the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) to make the sector more standardized and become a global talent hub,” Sharada Prasad, director general of employment and training at the Union labour ministry, said in New Delhi on Thursday. India has around 9,300 ITIs.

S. Ramadorai, adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on skill development, backed the move.

“We are presented with a double-whammy opportunity—a skilled workforce is needed not just to fuel India’s growing industry demand but also to fill in the emerging demand in the West with its ageing population,” he said at the global skill summit organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci). “When we undertake training programmes, we must benchmark it globally so that in a single step we meet both objectives.”

Each sector should give its input for the creation of a national occupancy standard that defines outcomes at every level, he said.

The Prime Minister’s skill council has set a target of 500 million people being trained by 2022. Of this, the government co-promoted National Skill Development Corp. has a mandate to train 150 million and the labour ministry 100 million. The rest are to be trained by other ministries and departments in collaboration with private parties.

Since skill development penetration is shifting from the cities to rural areas, Ramadorai said that there was need for credit funding of the vocational education sector.

“By giving access to funds, more people will be encouraged to skill themselves, hence we are working towards credit funding being enabled for vocational training,” said Ramadorai, who is also vice-chairman of Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. He said that the education loan business has grown 40% in the last few years, which strengthens the case for credit funding of skill training.

“Quality standards are a must for sustainable growth,” said Sanjeev Duggal, chief executive of Centum Learning Ltd, education training unit of the Bharti group. “We have just started but monetary support to students will be key to promoting the sector. In the long run you need it.”

Banks may be hesitant knowing the risk involved, said Abhaya Agarwal, executive director at consulting firm Ernst and Young (E&Y), which released a report on the skill sector on Thursday. “If there is some kind of guarantee from the government side, then it will help,” Agarwal said. “I believe microfinance has a good reach in rural India and can fill the gap.”

According to the E&Y report, about 67% of organizations in India are facing difficulty in filling up jobs against a world average of 34%. “In a scenario where 80% of the workforce in rural and urban India do not possess any identifiable marketable skills, and 75% of new job opportunities to be created will be skill based, it becomes essential for the country to evolve and develop a robust delivery mechanism on priority,” the E&Y report said.

“The challenge here for the country is to ensure consistent quality of infrastructure and delivery, wider industry participation, social respect for skilled manpower and efficient coordination among delivery agencies for regulation and monitoring,” the report said.

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