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The target group for skill development comprises all those in the labour force, including those entering the labour market for the first time, those employed in the organized sector and those working in the unorganized sector. The current capacity of the skill development programs is 3.1 million. India has set a target of skilling 500 million people by 2022.

As the proportion of working age group of 15-59 years will be increasing steadily, India has the advantage of ‘demographic dividend’. Harnessing the demographic dividend through appropriate skill development efforts would provide an opportunity to achieve inclusion and productivity within the country and also a reduction in the global skill shortages.

Major challenge of skill development initiatives is also to address the needs of huge population by providing skills in order to make them employable and help them secure ‘decent work’. Skill development for persons working in the organized sector is a key strategy in that direction. This will also inculcate dignity of labour and create greater awareness towards environment, safety and health concerns.

To achieve this India needs a flexible education system: basic education to provide the foundation for learning; secondary and tertiary education to develop core capabilities and core technical skills; and further means of achieving lifelong learning. The education system must be attuned to the new global environment by promoting creativity and improving the quality of education and training at all levels.

According to the NSS 61st Round results show that among persons of the age 15-29 years, only about 2% are reported to have received formal vocational training and another 8% reported to have received non-formal vocational training indicating that very few young persons actually enter the world of work with any kind of formal vocational training. This proportion of trained youth is one of the lowest in the world. The corresponding figures for the industrialized countries are much higher, varying between 60% and 96% of the youth in the age group of 20-24 years. One reason for this poor performance is the near exclusive reliance upon a few training courses with long duration say 2 to 3 years covering around 100 skills.

There are 1244 polytechnics under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resource Development with a capacity of over 2.95 lakh offering 3 year diploma courses in various branches of engineering with an entry qualification of 10th pass. Besides, there are 415 institutions for diploma in pharmacy, 63 for hotel management, and 25 for architecture.

Skill building activity was also initiated under the 10+2 level of school education. A scheme of prevocational education at lower secondary level was started from 1993-94 to impart training in simple marketable skills and to develop vocational interests. There are now about 9583 schools offering about 150 educational courses of two years duration in the broad areas of agriculture, business and commerce, engineering and technology, health and paramedical, home science and science and technology at +2 stage covering about one million students.

The country is poised at a moment in history when a much brighter future for its entire people is within its reach. Skill development will help actualize this potential. Development and articulation of a national policy on skill development is a matter of priority.
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