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Skilling India: India's 3E Challenge of Education, Employability, and Employment
October 5, 2016

The Claridges, New Delhi

As per the Census 2011 data, India has 730 million people in the age group of 15-59 years, which gives India an opportunity to reap a significant demographic dividend. The government’s skills development policy (2015) notes that India is “presently facing a dual challenge of a severe paucity of highly-trained, quality labour, as well as non-employability of large sections of the educated workforce that possess little or no job skills”.  The situation gets further complicated given the fact that about 93 per cent of the workforce is in the informal sector, and it is difficult to track their skills and impart the requisite training to them. The estimated rate of job creation in the informal sector is higher than that in the formal sector, thus creating relatively low productive jobs. India thus needs to equip its workforce with employable skills and knowledge.


NCAER has undertaken the J.P. Morgan New Skills at Work-India (NSAWI) program under NCAER Labour Economics and Research Observatory (N-LERO). It seeks to focus on the three critical elements of education, employability, and employment. The study aims at contributing both to policy as well as practice pertaining to employability, labour markets and the skilling supply chain. The objective of Phase 1 (out of three phases) of the study was to develop a sharper understanding of the challenges pertaining to jobs and skills - what is working and what is not, and what are the policy recommendations.


This second consultation workshop on this study was held at The Claridges in New Delhi. The workshop was inaugurated by Dr Rajesh Chadha of NCAER, who welcomed the participants and introduced the programme. 


Dr Biswajit Goldar, Institute of Economic Growth, chaired the first session on “Skill in India: The 3-E Approach”.  Dr Bornali Bhandari, NCAER, introduced the concept of skills, and pointed out that a broader framework of skills, including cognitive, physical, interactive and vocational skills, are needed in the country. She also discussed the inherent challenges in measuring skills. NCAER has developed an index based on the 3-E concept to assess the skill levels of 21 major states in the country. Ms Tullika Bhattacharya, NCAER, delineated the level of skills employed by 24 key sectors identified by the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC). The novelty of the index lies not only in the categorisation of skills but also in the fact that it takes into account all three types of education, that is, general, vocational and technical education. Dr Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay of the Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi, argued that education does not translate into actual usable skills though it may be equated to capability. He further remarked that there is a need for a focused discussion on women, especially since most women in India are not participating in the labour force even though their educational aspirations are similar to those of men. Dr Mukhopadhyay also pointed out that while at the macro level, there is a shortage of skills, at the micro level, people do not really want to out-migrate from their local cities and towns. Dr Rajesh Chakrabarti of the Wadhwani Foundation gave critical comments on indices and their relevance. Mr Anil Kumar of the Axis Bank Foundation discussed the challenges of skilling in the rural sector. 


The keynote address at the Conference was chaired by Dr Rajesh Chadha and delivered by Mr Pramod Bhasin, Founder and Vice Chairman, Genpact and Chairm