1. Introduction

Fast growth, competitiveness and social stability depend on skill development. India’s industrial growth is picking up at a time when industry’s ability to absorb unskilled rural migrants has been lost in history. A few aspects stand out in any analysis of India’s skill landscape:

a) To compete in the open domestic economy, leave alone the global market, companies need to achieve standards that can be delivered only by trained manpower working on sophisticated machines that run to precise algorithms. Even in the service sector, workers need a whole lot of skills to become part of the modern economy, even if it is confined to social graces and discipline. Untrained, unemployable youth can easily turn to crime or be mobilised by political parties that thrive on hatred of ‘the other.’ Skill development is a national priority.

b) The phenomenon of educated unemployed in a fast-track economy is peculiar to India. According to a 2005 NASSCOM-McKinsey World Institute study, over 75 percent of engineering and 85 percent of arts, science and commerce graduates in India are unemployable. Neither is the education they are prescribed up-to-date, nor are they taught marketable skills during their three-four years in college.

c) Sixty years after independent India adopted the centrally planned model of economic development, the productivity of Indian industry and the labour force in particular, is abysmally low, the inevitable outcome of continuous neglect of vocational education and training. Consequently despite hosting the world’s largest working age population and labour force, the Indian economy which for the past decade has been averaging unprecedented annual GDP (gross domestic product) growth rates of 8-9 percent, is experiencing the paradox of a massive — and growing — shortage of skilled and sufficiently trained personnel in agriculture, manufacturing and service industries. Confronted with the highest in-service employee training costs worldwide, intensifying shortage of skilled workers and rising wages which are jeopardising India Inc’s cost-competitiveness in world markets, alarm bells have begun to ring in somnolent government offices and the councils of Indian industry.

d) In India very few young people enter the world of work with any type of formal or informal vocational training. Indeed the proportion of formally trained youth in our labour force is among the lowest in the world. Currently the VET system has the capacity to train only 3 million youth against industry’s requirement of 13 million annually. (Source: Education World Feb 2010)

Taking cognizance of this challenge and opportunities, the Freelance India launched coordinated action for skill development which is envisioned to be a major initiative for inclusive growth and development and it consists of a conglomeration of programs and appropriate structures, of which Skill Development is an important part. Many Information Technology industries teamed together to set up Freelance India. This Organisation has been mandated by non govt. organization to “catalyse” (advocate, create, fund, facilitate and incentivize) skill development in India. It has Prime Minister’s mandate to skill 150 million people in India by 2022. Freelance India intends to address these issues on two tracks. Firstly, for building capacity in the VET segment, it is encouraging private sector investment and initiatives (in profit as well as non-profit enterprises) in training and skill development in 20 high growth sectors and the huge unorganized sector. Freelance India will facilitate establishment and growth of private “train the trainers” centers where instructors will be updated with the latest sector-specific skills and competencies required, using current equipment and technology, and modern training techniques.

Today, industry realises the criticality of skill development for every industry vertical, and all Industry Forums evaluate how industry could participate in skill development initiatives. The best option for industry sectors is to set up Freelance India Skill Development Program to complement the existing vocational education system for the Industry Sector in meeting the entire value chain’s requirements of appropriately trained manpower in quantity and quality across all levels on a sustained and evolving basis. As it grows, the Freelance India Skill Development Program become self funded, for-profit organizations.

This initiative has been adopted by a few leading economies, such as Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, South Africa, who have been successful in addressing their country’s human resource development needs. This Approach Paper is only to be read as a guideline. Industry sectors are free to design FISDP as per their Industry requirements, within the framework of the mandate given for FISDPs in enumerated later in this Document.

2. Objective of Setting up FISDP

FISDP will strive to complement the existing vocational education system for the Industry Sector in meeting the entire value chain’s requirements of appropriately trained manpower in quantity and quality across all levels on a sustained and evolving basis. Thus, the FISDP of every Industry sector must have the active support of all major players of that sector, in order to be successful in its role. The FISDP proposes to complement the existing vocational education system and address the skill gaps through the following activities

1. Conducting research – Building up skill inventory database for the industry sector, skill-wise, region-wise, reviewing international trends in skill development and identifying skill gaps and technology to be taken up for teaching

2. Improving the delivery mechanism –Partnering with educational institutions to train trainers and upgrade skill sets of existing industry employees, and those in the industry value chain, e.g., dealer and service networks.

3. Building quality assurance – Setting up a robust and stringent certification and accreditation process for industry sector facing skill development institutes to ensure consistency and acceptability of standards.