Skill Development, Vocational education and Adult Education

Skill Development Scenario in India

  • More than half of Indian workers will require skill development by 2022 – The Future of Jobs 2018 (World Economic Fora)
  • According to most estimates, India continues to be a country that faces one of the highest shortages of skilled workforce.
  • In India, only about 2% of the workforce had formal vocational training, and only 9% had non-formal, vocational training – National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) Report (2018)

The stake here is, if the skilling issue is not resolved, India risks forfeiting its so-called “demographic dividend”.

Government Initiatives for skill development

  • In 2014, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship was created to harmonise training processes, assessments, certification and outcomes and, crucially, to develop Industrial Training Institutions (ITIs) — the building blocks of this endeavour.
  • Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP)
  • “Skill India” program, aims to train a minimum of 300 million skilled people by the year 2022.

a) Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)

b) Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK)

c) Rozgar Melas

d) India International Skill Centre (IISC)

  • Standard Training Assessment and Reward Scheme (STAR)
  • Polytechnic Scheme
  • Vocationalization of Education
  • UDAAN for J&K

Shortcomings in the Desired Outcome

  • The target of Skill India was to reach out to 300 million young people by 2022, but only 25 million had been trained under this scheme by the end of 2018.
  • Even those who have been trained under Skill India and PMKVY are unable to find jobs.
  • Under PMKVY, only 15% of those trained got a job.

Challenges in skill development

  • Informal Workforce (90%): Greater workforce informality leads to lower incentives to acquire new skills. Faced with inadequately skilled workers, businesses often choose to replace labour with machinery. This, in turn, leads to still fewer formal jobs.
  • Agriculture Workforce (56%): Indians who work in agriculture continue to subsist because they do not have the skills to take up industrial or services sector jobs.
  • Insufficient capacity: Current infrastructure facilities available in educational institutions throughout the country are inadequate considering the huge demand for skilled labour. There are not many trained and highly skilled trainers available.
  • Low student Mobilisation: Owing to the traditional outlook of people associated with skill development the enrolment of the students for vocational education and training is abysmally low.
  • Market failure in skill development: Firms themselves do not have an incentive to spend on developing the skills of their workers, because a skilled worker may quit and join a new firm.
  • Information asymmetries: A skilled person knows his/her skills, but a potential employer does not; if employers had all the information, their willingness to pay for a skilled person would rise.
  • Accreditation: There is a vast segment of informal workers in India, many of whom possess skills that have not been formally recognized.
  • Scalability: Any model to be successful needs a lot of support from different stakeholders. Since there is limited buy-in from the corporate sector, the progress of such initiatives is slow.
  • Skill Mismatch: Lack of conformity between what is taught in classrooms and what the industry requires. As a result, though the people may be skilled, they do not get employment.
  • Low female participation in the labour force: Out of the country’s labour force of 395.2 million Only 91.6 million are women.
  • Lack of awareness of international mobility

Opportunities for India

  • Job markets across the world including India are undergoing a tectonic shift.
  • Higher wages and morale in these firms help in attaining global competitiveness. 
  • Initiating vocational training at the school level will make young people employment-ready and boost India’s competitiveness
  • India has a huge ‘demographic dividend’ which means that it has a very high scope of providing skilled manpower to the labour market.
  • The Future of Work in India: Inclusion, Growth and Transformation Report by the Observer Research Foundation and the World Economic Forum sheds light on the end of transformative technology and its impacts on work in India. Some key insights from this report are:
  • Companies expect technological change to lead to job creation, not job loss. They recognise the potential of new technologies in the coming years.
  • The whole focus is expected to be on the automation of repetitive tasks, time optimisation, maximising productivity, creation of digital platforms for online access to job opportunities and formalising informal operations.
  • It is critical for people to keep picking up new tricks of their trade and keep themselves updated with new technological changes in their sphere of work.

Way Forward

  • Creating avenues for private sector engagement.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an example of an intervention to address information asymmetry.
  • Collaboration with industry has been fundamental to ensure the relevance and quality of skills training and for building the institutional structures required to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • Student depending on aptitude and performance in school goes either into the higher education stream or the vocational stream (German Model).
  • Mainstreaming of vocational education and skill development within the school system
  • The knowledge and skill levels in subjects should be globally competitive
  • Public investment in skill development and vocational education must be increased
  • A new set of vocational teachers for specific trades and skills would need to be trained and appointed.
  • Getting good teachers for vocational training would be difficult. Using retirees, even from overseas, to design the curricula and training teachers would be worthwhile. 
  • State-of-the-art facilities, including equipment, for such vocational education, would need to be put in place.
  • Skilling initiatives – complemented by a wider push towards empowerment through gender sensitization, creation of economic opportunities and economic and social support for bridging the gender gap.
  • The NEP 2020 aims to integrate vocational education into mainstream education in a phased manner by creating a National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF), which will be coordinated with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) for ease of mobility between streams; is a welcome move.

Schemes for Adult Education


  • A scheme of the Ministry of Education aims to promote literacy among non-literates in the age group of 15 and above across the country. It aims to cover 5 crore non-literates during the period from 2022-23 to 2026-27.
  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme with contribution from both Centre and State government. It will replace the SAKSHAR Bharat scheme for adult education.
  • To implement volunteerism through online mode. However, training, orientation, and workshops of volunteers, may be organized through face-to-face mode. 


  • Foundational Literacy and Numeracy
  • Critical Life Skills: These will include financial literacy, digital literacy, commercial skills, health awareness, childcare and family welfare education.
  • Vocational Skills Development: For increasing employment potential.
  • Basic Education: Includes preparatory, middle and secondary stage equivalency.
  • Continuing Education: Includes engaging holistic adult education courses in arts, sciences, technology, culture, sports and recreation and other topics of interest or use to local learners.


According to UNESCO, India is expected to join eight other countries (including Brazil, China, Bangladesh, Egypt, Mexico, Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia) in a drive to accelerate digital learning and benefit from the global digital education initiative. Together, the countries are expected to drive the shift from a traditional education approach towards digital and create more opportunities in the digital education sector globally. In the days to come, digital education will further witness significant changes in the way universities and colleges provide education. This accelerated shift towards the adoption of digital means in both access to education as well as its assessment isn’t a temporary trend but will have long-term consequences that will shape the new normal future. We will soon experience a myriad of possibilities emerging out of digital education to empower the youth of India.

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