Friday, December 05, 2014

India's Labour Ministry plans Vocational University

The Union Ministry of Labour plans to open a first-of-its-kind national vocational university that will subsume all Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), seeking to improve standards and bring uniformity among the schools that supply workers to the manufacturing sector. All 11,500 ITIs and hundreds of similar training schools overseen by the labour ministry will come under the proposed National Workers Vocational University, Minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya said after a meeting of the ministry in New Delhi on Thursday. 

“It will be an umbrella body,” said the minister, adding that the renewed thrust on skill education in the country had necessitated the need for such an initiative. The university may come up in the next six months in Telengana, home state of the labour minister. The initiative is a part of the government’s effort to boost manufacturing’s share in the economic output of India, and support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make In India campaign aimed at attracting greater foreign investment flows and creating jobs. Manufacturing’s share of gross domestic product has stagnated at around 15% for many years now.

Officials in the ministry said ITIs and Advanced Training Institutes (ATIs), run by both private and government entities, follow some basic rules set by the Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGE&T), but efforts to monitor them and improve quality standards have been lacking. The dwindling standard of ITIs and lack of collaboration between such schools and industry have created the need for an overarching body to oversee them. “Once a university is in place, programme implementation, upgradation and monitoring of such training schools will get streamlined. This university, once in place, can also be a facilitator for providing required apprentices to industries,” a labour ministry official said on condition of anonymity. 


Lack of trained workers is seen as one of the main obstacles in improving the competitive edge of India’s manufacturing sector. “To boost manufacturing and aid PM’s Make In India mission, skill is very important. Less than 8% of our workers are skill-trained, and through new initiatives we are trying to improve this. Eventually, it will lead to better employment generation,” Dattatreya said. The initiative also means the labour ministry will continue to manage the ITIs, which had been facing the prospect of being taken over by the new skill and entrepreneurship ministry. 

“Skill is a huge sector and we don’t have any issue with the skill ministry. But we believe that ITIs should stay with labour ministry as is the case for decades,” the labour ministry official said. Opening a vocational university may be a good starting point to reform ITIs, said T. Muralidharan, Executive Chairman of the TMI Group, a human resource and skill-training company. “But supply-side reform is less important than demand-side reform,” he said. “It means authorities have to keep in mind that supply of trained manpower has to be in sync with industry demand, else it will only lead to further unemployment.” In India, the graduate unemployment rate in the 15-29 age group is 33%, according to official data. 

Germany will hand-hold the labour ministry in its effort to open the vocational university, ministry officials said after a meeting with German ambassador Michael Steiner. The labour ministry said in a statement that other than the university, the ambassador and the minister discussed common areas of interest including the need for joint development of the curriculum for honing some core engineering skills and courses for apprentices.

Source: Mint, December 5, 2014
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