Skilling the Unskilled

Recently, Indian Prime Minister (PM) said that nation needs to think big and focus on skill, scale and speed to get India back on track. It’s not first time PM expressed his concern, but he underscored importance of skill development from various platforms. Keeping importance of skill development in mind, the new government has created a separate ministry for skill development and entrepreneurship. This is an indication that the Union Government is very serious about skill development.
In this backdrop, I am trying to unfold various skill development initiatives in India. They are part of various ministries and organisations ranging from private to public sector.
In the early nineties, the Union Government started economic reform. After this bold policy decision, some sectors witnessed an impressive growth in couple of years. Such growth further created a demand for skilled workforce and industries expressed their concern over unskilled lebour force. Various studies and researches find that there is acute shortage of skilled labour in various sectors and industries are facing the brunt of such shortage. Such situation forced the government to start some serious initiative to lag the gap. Skill development has emerged as force for inclusive development. In last couple of years, India underscored importance of skill development and various players are have involved in skill development initiatives. These are:

(1) Skill Development by the Government
(2) Corporate led Skill Development
(3) Skill Development by International Players
(4) Initiatives by Not-for-Profit
(5) Initiatives by Social Enterprises or Small Ventures

Before delving into detail, I will shed light on existing skill development policy in India. First of all I will discuss national policy on skill development, followed a leading body at the union level and its role in skilling the unskilled in India. Then, I will shade light on involvement of various ministries.

National Policy on Skill Development
In 2009, the Union Government approved the National Policy on Skill Development. It was proposed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. In order to ensure inclusive development, this policy underscored the importance of increasing productivity. It unlined the importance of  organsied and unorgansied work force.
The salient features of the Policy (1):
(a) Demand driven system guided by labour market signals thereby reducing skills mismatch.
(b) Expansion of outreach using established as well as innovative approaches.
(c) National Vocational Qualifications Framework which will inter alia include opportunities for horizontal and vertical mobility between general and technical education, recognition and certification of competencies irrespective of mode of learning.
(d) System to deliver ‘competencies’ in line with nationally and internationally recognized standards.
e) Focus on new emerging occupations.
(f) Focus on pre-employment training and Lifelong learning
(g) Equity consideration – adequate participation of women, disabled persons and disadvantaged groups including economically backward & minorities – enhancing their access to training; improving employability and increasing employment opportunities.
(h) Stress on research, planning and monitoring
(i) Involvement of social partners – responsibility for management and financing of the system would be shared with all stakeholders and provide greater space for Public Private Partnership.
(j) Promoting excellence.
(k) Use of modern training technologies including distance learning, e-learning, web based learning, etc.
(l) Skill upgradation of trainers, their quality assurance, and improvement of status.

Union Ministries/ Organisations 
National Skill Development Corporation(NSDC)
Labour & Employment
HRD Ministry (HRD Higher Education & HRD Vocational Education)
Road Transport and Highways
Women and Child Development
Micro Small and Medium Enterprises
Rural Development
Heavy Industry
Urban Development
Construction Industry Development Council (under Planning Commission )
Urban Development
Information Technology
Consumer Affairs
Social Justice & Empowerment
Overseas Indian Affairs
Chemicals & Fertilizers

National Skill Development Council (NSDC)
In October, 2009, National Skill Development Council was launched by the then Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. It is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 by the Ministry of Finance. In the NSDC, shareholdings of private and government are 51:49.  In other words one can say that it is a PPP enterprise and emerged as an apex body for skilling and up skilling unskilled workforce in India. 
Speaking on the formal launch, Pranab Mukherjee the then Finance Minister said, “The vision outlined by the Prime Minister’s Council calls for serious up-scaling of the skill development targets. Hence, as against 40 million people currently, who have received any kind of formal or non-formal training, the vision envisages creation of a pool of 500 million skilled people by 2022. This translates into a rapid escalation of the training and skill development capacity, and, a quantum leap in the number of trades, wherein training is currently being imparted through existing institutes. The vision also emphasis, a high degree of inclusivity, which shall effectively deal with the current, divides prevailing in our society, such as gender, rural and urban, organized and un-organized employment, and, traditional and contemporary work places. In order to achieve the mission outlined in the vision, it has become imperative for Government to engage with the private sector, through long term partnerships to achieve synergy in delivery and implementation. The NSDC, therefore, is the important component of the overall roadmap for radically transforming India’s skill landscape.”
With NSDC, seventeen union ministries and departments are associated.  But it comes under the Union finance Ministry. It provides funding to entrepreneurs through equity, loan and grants.

Skill Development: List of Small Ventures (2)
Access Livelihoods
Amass Skill Ventures Private Limited
Ants Consulting
Anudip Foundation
Apollo Med Skills
Aspiring Minds Assessment Pvt. Ltd.
Avon Facility Management
AVR Edge
Best First Step Education Pvt. Ltd
Calance Software
CAP Workforce Development
Caravan Craft Retail
Cinema Vision
Datapro Computers
Delphi Skill Development Corporation Pvt Ltd (DSDC)
Dialogue in the Dark
Domestic Workforce Services Pvt. Ltd.
Don Bosco Tech Society
Edulight Careers
Emerge Learning Services Pvt Ltd
Employability Skills Training to rural youth in India
ePalm Leaf
ESMS Esource Consulting
Extramarks Education
F-Tec Skilling India
Future India: The Creative Skills & Innovation Reality Show
Global Talent Track
ICA Infotech Private Limited
ICSS (Pragmatic)
IL&FS Education
IMS Proschool Pvt Ltd
Indus Edutrain Private Limited
Mahindra Special Services Group (MSSG)
Apollo Technical Education Foundation
Indus Edutrain Private Limited
Industree Crafts Foundation
Institute of Advanced Security Training & Management
JBS Academy
Kalyani Skills
KarmYog Education Network Pvt. Limited (KEN)
Kherwadi Social Welfare Association
Laqsh Job Skills Academy
Laurus Edutech
L S Talent
Mahindra Namaste
Manipal-City & Guilds Skills Training Pvt Ltd (MCG)
Mann Deshi Udyogini (B-school for Rural Women)
Medha Learning
Microspin Machine Works
NSHM Skills
Orion Edutech
PANIIT Alumni Reach for India
Pipal Tree
Prakhar Skill Development Academy (Prakhar/SBU)
Premier Centre For Competency Training Pvt Ltd
Prolific System & Technologies Pvt Ltd
Providers Business Academy
Reliance AIMS
Rooman Technologies
Rural Shore
Sahaj eVillage Limited
SaltLake Institute of Engineering and Management Limited (‘SLIEM’)
SB Global Educational Resources
Skill Sonics
Skill Tree Consulting
Skill Ventures
Smart Edusol
Stratadigm Education & Training Pvt. Ltd.
Surgeforth Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Sutra Tri-tech Software Pvt. Ltd.
Suvarna Bharat
SynchroServe Global Solutions Private Ltd
TeamLease Services Private Limited
The Unbeatable India
24×7 Learning
2COMS Consulting
Value Hub – Skilling and Up-skilling Indian Youth

Ministry of Labour & Employment
In order to train workforce for industry, the Union Government started Industrial Training Institutes.  According to a document of FICCI – an industry body, “The Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGE&T) had the initiated Craftsman Training Scheme in 1950 by establishing 50 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) for imparting skills in various vocational trades to meet the manpower requirements for technology and industrial growth of the country. Since then the demand for skilled manpower has increased substantially due to rapid economic growth, changes in technology and work process, and globalization of economy.”
The Minister of labour & Employment is running this scheme since then. It is certified by International World Organisation (ILO) There are about 200 it is in India run by Indian Government.

Ministry of Human Resource Development
Several decades ago, the Union HRD Ministry started Polytechnics for skill development keeping needs of burgeoning economy.  It offer three year generalized diploma courses in subjects such as civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. The courses are now diversified to include electronics, computer science, medical lab technology, agriculture and hospital engineering. There are 1292 polytechnics under the aegis of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Since its inception, polytechnic centres trend score of people.

Ministry of Micro Small & Medium Enterprises
The MSME Ministry conducts a number of vocational and entrepreneurship development programmes throughout the country.  They focus on entrepreneurial skills development. Such programmes are associated with various sectrors like food processing, solar power, electronics such programmes help the budding entreprenesu to start their own ventures.

International Collaborations in Skill Development
In order to skill unskilled, the Government is fostering several international collaborations with industrialized countries and leading international bodies.
The UK India Skills Forum (UKISF) established in April 2002 is an initiative led by the UK India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO). It provides a platform for organizations across the technical and vocational education sectors in UK and India, to tap the business opportunities in the sector by exchanging ideas for delivery of skills training by collaborations between the two countries.(3)

India EU Skills Development Project aims to increase the capacity of policy makers and key counterparts, develop a National Vocational Qualification Framework, and enhance labour market analysis processes. The overall objective of this exercise will be to improve the quality and relevance of training provision and the number of certified skilled labourers in various sectors of employment. The aim of this project on skill development in India is to contribute to achieving rapid and inclusive growth. (4)

Skill Councils in Various Sectors
Aerospace & Aviation Sector Skill Council
Agriculture Sector Skill Council of India
Apparel Made-ups and Home Furnishings Sector Skill Council
Automotive Skills Development Council
Beauty and Wellness Sector Skill Council
BFSI Sector Skill Council of India
Capital Goods Skills Council
Construction Sector Skill Council
Electronics Sector Skill Council
Food Processing Sector Skill Council of India
Gems & Jewellery Sector Skill Council
Healthcare Sector Skill Council
IT-ITeS Sector Skill Council
Indian Plumbing Skills Council
Iron & Steel Sector Skill Council
Leather Sector Skill Council
Life Sciences Sector Skill Council
Logistics Sector Skills Council
Media & Entertainment Skills Council
Mining Sector Skill Council
Power Sector Skill Council
Retailer’s Associations Skill Council of India
Rubber Skill Development Council
Security Knowledge and Skill Development Council
Telecom Sector Skill Council of India
Textile Sector Skill Council
Tourism & Hospitality SSC

(2) NSDC


Understanding the Clusters

Recently I completed a short term course on faculty development. During this course, participants were professors, bankers to scientists. All of them were associated with entrepreneurship development in various capacities. There was one group of assistant professors who were associated with a clusters development unit of a leading university. But they were erratic in terms of participation and the resource person was not happy with their performance.  But they become popular among the batch for wrong reasons. And other adult learners started calling them ‘Clusters’. Here my objective is not to discuss what happen in the class but this blog’s basic purpose is to provoke and offer a nuanced explanation of cluster as a concept and its relevance in India.

Cluster:  In 1990, Michael Porter – a well-known professor at Harvard Business School introduced this concept and elaborated it with various examples. Since then, this word has emerged as tool for economic development in various geographies. Several experts, economists and development practitioners did work on this economic concept.

What is a Cluster? In the Harvard Business Review (HBR), Michael Porter wrote, “Clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected companies and institutions in a particular field. Clusters encompass an array of linked industries and other entities important to competition. They include, for example, suppliers of specialized inputs such as components, machinery, and services, and providers of specialized infrastructure. Clusters also often extend downstream to channels and customers and laterally to manufacturers of complementary products and to companies in industries related by skills, technologies, or common inputs. Finally, many clusters include governmental and other institutions—such as universities, standards-setting agencies, think tanks, vocational training providers, and trade associations—that provide specialized training, education, information, research, and technical support.”

Porter added, “Today’s economic map of the world is dominated by what I call clusters: critical masses—in one place—of unusual competitive success in particular fields. Clusters are a striking feature of virtually every national, regional, state, and even metropolitan economy, especially in more economically advanced nations. Silicon Valley and Hollywood may be the world’s best-known clusters. Clusters are not unique, however; they are highly typical—and therein lies a paradox: the enduring competitive advantages in a global economy lie increasingly in local things—knowledge, relationships, motivation—that distant rivals cannot match.”

Shedding light on this concept, The Economist stated, “Clustering is the phenomenon whereby firms from the same industry gather together in close proximity. It is particularly evident in industries like banking. Banking centres in cities such as London and New York have thrived for centuries. Hundreds of banks cluster there, close together and within easy walking distance of each other. This makes it easier for customers to choose between them, and might be thought to act against each individual bank’s best interests.”

Economist further added, “Modern high-tech clusters often gather round prestigious universities on whose research they can piggyback. Silicon Valley is near Stanford University, for example, and similar high-tech clusters are gathered around MIT near Boston in the United States and around Cambridge University in Britain.
One of the most famous clusters is that of the Hollywood film industry. When the big movie studio system broke up in the 1930s it fractured into a large number of what were essentially small specialist firms and freelancers. Clustering around Hollywood allows each of these small units to benefit as if it had the scale of an old movie studio, but without the rigidities of the studios’ wage hierarchy and unionised labour.”

Emergence of clusters is not restricted to the developed world. Several emerging and developing countries adopted this approach in couple of decades and intensifying economic activities in certain geographies.
In emerging countries, their size varies from small to big. Irrespective of size and scale they create employment for skill workforce. In various cases, the clusters are nurturing innovations and new ideas which are strategically important for them.
Achieving competitiveness and efficiency in various sector, clusters are playing a crucial role where they becoming a backbone of industrial and export production in India.  In India, majority of clusters are associated with micro, small and medium enterprises. They are playing a crucial role in reducing hardship.

Types of Clusters in India
Industrial Clusters
Manufacturing Clusters
Handloom Clusters
University Clusters
IT Clusters
Services Clusters

To diffuse innovation culture, NInC proposes to seed Cluster Innovation Centres (CICs) in industry clusters. This centre will act as a networking hub/arm of the cluster, forge linkages between various stakeholders, initiate and assist innovation activities acting as catalysts and  facilitators. With a lean management structure, this body will aid the cluster and its ecosystem  in connecting with each other, provide guidance to various stakeholders when needed, organize  initiatives to promote growth, channel various incentives that benefit the cluster and act as an  incubating body managing the growth of innovation in the cluster.(1) 

National Innovation Council and Clusters in India
The Union Government set up National Innovation Council in 2010 under Sam Pitroda – a well-known technocrat who headed this apex body. Since its inception National Innovation Council played a crucial role in encouraging innovation and cluster development. NIC did comprehensive studies on various clusters. They gave policy suggestion on various issues related to cluster development and entrepreneurship.

Some new clusters identified by NInC  
Auto Components Cluster – Faridabad, Haryana,
Ayurveda Cluster – Thrissur, Kerala,
Bamboo Cluster – Agartala, Tripura,
Biotech & Pharma Cluster – Ahmedabad, Gujarat,
Brassware Cluster – Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh,
Food Processing Cluster – Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu
Furniture Cluster – Ernakulam, Kerala

A case study by IIM B Researchers finds, “The Moradabad Brassware Cluster, in Uttar Pradesh, is mainly focused on the export market. The annual turnover of the cluster is over Rs 3,500 crore of which 80% is earned through exports of metalware, including brassware. The cluster has evolved from utilizing only brass a decade ago to now incorporating other metal alloys. Despite growth in the number of exporters in the cluster, there has been a significant decline in the number of artisans due to challenges in living conditions, wages, raw material procurement, prices and stricter international compliance norms.” NInC was closely associated with this study.

Cluster Innovation Centre, University of Delhi
Ministry of Human Resource Development and National Innovation Council started Cluster Innovation Centre (CIC) under the University of Delhi. Cluster Innovation Centre started in 2011. They run B. Tech four years degree in innovation, mathematics etc.According to its official site, these are broad objectives of CIC:
Connecting research with application for the benefit of society
Support application oriented research to solve real world problems
Focus on developing affordable innovations that can benefit a large number of people and at the same time commercially viable and sustainable.
Emergence of cluster as an engine of increasing economic activities depends on various factors. These are location, connectivity, availability of raw material, easily available work force, favourable industrial policies, adequate power supply and strong funding ecosystem. Enabling all these factors of cluster development is not easy. It requires a vision for development and political will.



Rise and Fall of Unincorporated Entities

In India, there are 5.77 crore  unincorporated non-agriculture enterprises (excluding construction) which employ 10.798 crore workers across the country.(1)
Such unincorporated entities goes through various stages. In this entire process, they adopt several approaches but these are unexplored terrain in India. Street vending and its transformation into an enterprise in rural India is truly inclusive in nature. But researchers and media are not concern about their approaches.
This blog’s basic purpose is to provoke and offer a nuanced explanation of what is happening in the unincorporated sector. In following lines, I am narrating two stories. I will take help from Hernando De Soto which is based on his book – The Other Path  in an attempt to give theoretical perspective on street vending.

De Soto writes in his book: “The people who start out street vendors do not do so with the idea of remaining on the street forever, but with the intention of moving at some point to markets away from the public thoroughfare in order to conduct their activities under better conditions. All the traders now working in markets worked on the street at one time or another.”
Recently, I went to my village and I saw Lallan has opened his shop in the town which is close to near T Point. In other words, it’s an interaction zone and people from various region come here and gather or shop. Lallan was a street vendor when I was a small child and he regularly visited the nearby street of my home. At his cycle, he carry a range products from utensil, plastic toys to sweets and pea nuts. We generally bought delicious stuffs from him. His approach was largely based on barter system. One can bought something in exchange of small iron rod or rice. Since form beginning, he worked very hard and devoted several decades in this journey without any regret or disappointment.
Lalan’s story from street vending to his march towards starting a small business in rural India is an apparent trend in India.  It’s story of many entrepreneurs. Having nothing to lose, such street vendors start their journey from scratch. Their aspirations is to build own enterprise and own market in rural hinterland is not adequately chronicled and recognized. But no one can’t ignore them.
Street vending and unincorporated entities face several challenges in country like India. One big challenge is attitude of the Government especially the Urban Bodies towards these establishments. To these micro entrepreneurs, such challenges are very severe in many ways. I following lines, I am trying to narrative a story of micro entrepreneur who hails from Allahabad.
Few months ago, I visited Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, EDII, Ahmadabad in Gujarat. EDII Campus is located at the outskirts of the city. After two days, I decided to visit city. After crossing Indira Bridge, I find a shop which was close to EDII Campus. I entered into shop and I asked to Bhaiya (Brother) to save and set my hair. After initial conversation with him, I realized that he not ‘LOCAL’ and he either belong to Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. And I asked him about his native place. He responded to me, ‘I am from Allahabad.”  (Allahabad is holy city for Hindus and after 12 years of interval this city hosts a religious Prayag Mela which is very popluar in the world for its management and Millions of devotees come here during Mela from India and rest of the World.)
My guess was right and Allahabad was not new for me. Conversation started and he asked me about my work and what I am doing here? I responded on his queries. When I asked him, Bhaiya why you are here? Is any better prospect or else here? After few seconds, he narrated his story which is very pathetic and I can say that it is not isolated case.
He narrated:
My shop was located in Allahabad, which was near to Prayag Mela. There were scores of shops on both sides of roads. People were earning and saving from these establishments. And fulfilling their everyday needs. In a beautification drive, the State Administration and the Urban Body demolished these shops and evicted their owners from quickly. No mercy. No compensation, nothing. In short time span, these micro entrepreneurs lost everything. Their dreams shattered by their own Government. When Bhaiya narrated his story his eyes were full of tears. He loves Allahabad but he can’t start anything from his beloved place when he born and brought up.
He was very humble and during 10 days of stay I visited him fours times. He never forget to bring TEA for me from nearby shop. Even after my resistance, he brought tea…We finished tea…
His shop is set to run in Gujarat but there is a loneliness of leaving his birthplace, one can easily observe.
Above narrated stories show that how micro entrepreneurs are running their shops or venture after several decades of hard work and toil. But they are unable to resist legally when eviction drive starts. They cannot challenge it in the Court because they are not registered and they don’t have rights where they running their shops. More important thing is lack of political bargaining power. At the considerable extent, they are heterogeneous groups. They don’t have organised associations which can put their demand in an organised manner.


Covering Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

In last couple of years, I covered entrepreneurship and solution innovations in India.
Recently one friend suggested me to share all stories on this blog. Keeping his noble suggestion in mind I am sharing few stories and interviews. Your comments and feedback are welcome…

relauncHER: Positive Impact on Women Professionals
After a yearlong study of women careers, Jyotika Singh founded relauncHER in order to remove the barriers and biases related to career breaks and stop penalizing women for the difficult choices they have to make. In an interview, Jyotika highlights several issue related to women’s employment in India: (13 November 2013)

Social Innovation at Work in India
After more than six decades of Independence, the excluded majority in India is grappling with intractable problems where grinding poverty is worsening their conditions. In this backdrop, BMVSS ventured into this segment to reduce social hardship with clear social vision and commitment. (09 November 2013)

Entrepreneurs in Each Region Should Share their Experiences: Vivek Wadhwa
In an exclusive interview, Vivek Wadhwa, a leading global thinker, sheds light on innovative solutions to plug loopholes. (04 November 2013)

Jugaad is crucial for India: Dr Jaideep Prabhu
Dr Jaideep Prabhu is director of the Centre for India & Global Business at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK. Prabhu is co-author of Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth. In an exclusive interview with Samay Live, Prabhu sheds light on various issues related to entrepreneurship development in India. (02 November 2013)

Skill Development by Startups
A lack of suitable skills and unorganized nature of employment created tricky situation for the households in various pockets of urban India. But in last few years, several startups with fledgling ideas ventured into this nascent segment to lag the gap. (October 2013)

Energy for All
Clean cooking solutions in developing countries like India are very much an unexplored terrain. In order to provide such solution, new enterprises are venturing into this terrain in the last few years. (29 October 2013)

Contributing to the Common Good
India has just entered into social entrepreneurship movement to explore newer and innovative solutions to address the most compelling socio-economic challenges. These young entrepreneurs from all over India are contributing to the common good.  (27 October 2013)

Green Businesses
Sheer amount of electronic gadgets from cheap to high-end have infiltrated every day live in India. Its toxic constituents are posing a big challenge of a different kind where e-waste cycling industry is largely unorganized. At this juncture, some startups have ventured into this uncharted terrain to address growing challenges of e-waste. (26 October  2013)

A New Wave of Social Enterprises
In a bid to provide clean drinking water, a new wave of social enterprises emerged and showed an unleashing potential to tackle social-economic hardships. Such change makers are inspiring the coming generation to tackle the world’s one of the toughest social and environmental challenges.  (October 2013)

Pursuing a Passion
Young students are capable to handle pressure, but maturity is still lacking due to lack of exposure to startups, business and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Article sheds light on the entrepreneurship ecosystem from funding to entrepreneurship development programmes in India.  (October  2013)