By Prashant Sood
New Delhi, Oct 26 (IANS) Poor youth from rural areas of India can look forward to improved placements in a range of areas, including healthcare, pharmaceuticals, hospitality and retail, with the rural development ministry working on several innovations in its skill development scheme to make it an effective intervention in efforts towards poverty alleviation.
Official sources said that the reworked scheme – Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojna (DDUGKY) – has innovative features including “champion employers” and concurrent monitoring. The ministry, they said, was also working on other initiatives including “industry internship” and “international placements”.
“The focus is to target placements outside the country and quality domestic placement for the poor rural youth. This is the future. This is also an effective way of alleviating poverty,” an official told IANS.
The revamped scheme has a concept of “champion employer” – companies that will not only give employment to the youth but also provide them a certain level of career progression.
“Champion employers will provide 10,000 jobs in two years and these jobs will give opportunity for growth,” another official said.
Officials said that leading firms had already been identified as champion employers – Cafe Coffee Day, Apollo Hospitals and The Manpower Group.
The officials said each of these firms will provide candidates a clear career path.
A candidate enrolling for a quick service restaurant trade in Café Coffee Day can rise to cafe manager in two years by acquiring three additional certifications, said officials. Apollo Medskills will provide training in areas like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, dental and paramedics. The Manpower Group candidates would be trained in pharma, retail and consumer products.
The rural development ministry has been implementing skills and placement initiatives since 1999 and had started the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) as a placement-linked programme for wage earning and self-employment.
The SGSY was redesigned and launched last September with its Aajeevika Skills component seeking to provide skills to the poor rural youth (18 to 35 years) and link them with regular wage employment.
Officials said that quality jobs which promise a certain degree of career progression were virtually inaccessible to poor youth from rural areas who comprise 65 percent of the country’s population of 1.25 billion.
The ministry is keen that the Deen Dayal UGKY scheme should not only address the needs of domestic industry but also meet the needs of skilled manpower abroad. It is keen for tie-ups with companies which can provide global jobs.
Officials said that developed countries were predicted to face a shortfall of 57 million semi-skilled workers by 2020 while India was expected to have a surplus of 47 million.
Countries such as the US, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, Spain, Britain and China, apart from countries in the Middle East, have a demand for skilled and semi-skilled manpower.
India has an estimated 430 million young people in the 15-34 age group, constituting about 35 percent of the country’s population. The age group is projected to increase to 464 million by 2021.
“This is a demographic challenge as also a potential demographic dividend if productivity of this large youth force is harnessed through demand-based skill and capacity development,” the official said.
He said the percentage of skilled workforce in India was far lower than in the developed countries.
“We need to start pushing now so that we can start meeting the global demand by 2020,” the official said.
He added that the revamped scheme will also help take forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” vision.
The ministry is also working on a concept to benchmark the training programmes to international standards through Rural India Skills Emblem (RISE), to certify the skill-set of an individual as well as other job-related parameters.
The revamped scheme is expected to have a special component of industry internship.
The reworked scheme is expected to fully roll out before the end of this year and would be upscaled by 2017-18 to provide skills training to about a million youths a year.
The skills scheme provides for a grant and training rural youth through project implementing agencies. The scheme is implemented by the rural development ministry along with the state governments.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at [email protected])