Skill India Mission struggles to meet target, two senior executives quit

This is the second time there has been a change in the top ranks of NSDC in the last few years.

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Chief operation officer (COO) Jayant Krishna and chief programming officer (CPO) Vishal Sharma of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) have quit, at a time when the Skill India initiative seems still far away from achieving its target for 2022.

The NSDC, which is a public-private partnership (PPP) under the Ministry of Skill Development is leading the Skill India Mission, which is chasing a target of skilling 400 million people in the next four years.

In 2015, Dilip Chenoy, CEO, NSDC and Atul Bhatnagar, COO, NSDC had quit following a report submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that revealed irregularities in the operation of NSDC. The Skill Development Ministry had also expressed its dissatisfaction with the functioning of the organisation.

Krishna had then been appointed as COO to stabilise the organisation, working with Manish Kumar, who was taken on as CEO. It was after these crucial appointments that the Skill India initiative was announced with the ambitious target of skilling 400 people by 2022.

However, the target failed to be achieved. While 7.5 million were trained in 2014-15 instead of the targeted 10.5 million, in 2015-16 and 2016-17, all departments together with the NSDC trained only 11.7 million.

Over the past year, the Skill India Mission has attempted to re-orient itself, with emphasis on district-level schemes and placements. The NSDC’s role in implementation has been reduced now, with more responsibility being given to the state governments.

It was reported that in the first phase of the Mission, while the expenditure touched Rs 1,500 crore in skilling more than 18 lakh people, the key objectives were not achieved in terms of placements.

It remains to be seen how much change will be brought about post this re-orientation. As of May 2018, it was reported that three out of every 10 people trained under the Skill India initiative were placed. But in August 2018, out of the over 30 lakh people who were trained, only 8.4 lakh procured jobs. That means, only one out of every four of those trained managed to get employed.

The issue of corruption also added to the woes. That is when the use of Aadhaar was made compulsory to address the issue of ghost beneficiaries and middlemen. Unclear documentation of the outcomes of the first phase has also been a hurdle.

Having undergone shake-ups and encountered various functional and organizational hurdles, it remains to be seen whether the Skill India Programme will manage to get close to the target that it had set for itself for 2022.

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