Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State (IC) of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Minister of State of Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India speaking at AIMA’s 2nd NLC.
“In past two days’ sessions, I believe many issues have been talked upon. I was going through the agenda. For this concluding session, I was invited to speak on something which is possibly being talked a lot these days. Well, much more than I think I have been doing in my ministry, I have become votary in this campaign put up by the prime minister. Skill is something which is possibly a part of life which most of us would not recognize it. Why skill has become so important and why did the prime minister decide to create a separate ministry for skill is something which intrigued me because when I was given the charge to begin this ministry, it came as a department when the government was formed and subsequently elevated to become a full-fledged ministry. So the issues which were being discussed and when I looked into certain statistics, I thought that this possibly could be the reason why the prime minister thought let’s create a separate ministry. It’s not that skills were not happening in the country. There were skills which were existing. But why did the prime minister and one of the basic statistics which reveals if you look at China or United States of America for that matter or the United Kingdom. Today the United Kingdom is out of the work force 63% skilled. If you look at Germany, out of every 100 people, 74% people are skilled, skilled to get employed. Look at Japan, its 80% of the workforce is skilled. If you look at Korea now, 96% of the workforce is skilled. The National Sample Survey organization of India reveals that in India, its just 3.5% of the workforce is skilled. This is something which possibly has drawn the attention of the government. Even if you add all those traditional skills which existed in the society and which has not been mapped, it would not cross more than 5-6%.
What went wrong is something which we all know and I don’t know how many ITians are here, how many engineers are here. But the majority of us who find a space in this audience or who come to the podium or who come to the dais are all those who are non-skilled. In India all those who become big, whether a successful entrepreneur or successful industrialist or a successful professor, vice chancellor or a politician or whoever becomes big in this country does not become big because he is skilled. He becomes big because he has done his graduation, post graduation, PhD, doctorate, management. The whole system has evolved around education and last 67 years everyone thought skills, of course, but education is more important. As a result, I tried to connect occasionally because I’m presuming that all of you watch television. I come from a state, in my parliamentary constituency, I have a mechanism where people come and connect to me by giving petitions in my office which is sent to me. In a month of Feb and March, all of a sudden the petitions dropped. No offense meant to any Bihari who is here, I’m one of course. In one particular month, there is not many people come to my office. When I start checking up why people don’t come in my office they say that board examinations are going on.So when any child is appearing for a board exam or any daughter of the family is appearing for the board exam, the entire family gets involved in the exam preparation. Now the examination preparation does not end there. If some of you could recall of a visual of 3 storeyed high school building in which people were climbing the windows, the bamboo sticks were being used to put in slips where entire family gets organized. They are not to be faulted. Because they have understood that my children if they have to become big they have to first become matriculate then higher secondary then B.A. then M.A. because the whole ecosystem for the last 67 years has been devised to indicate that big people are all those who just have formal education.
And today, please don’t take it otherwise for people of media, there is a distinct bias for higher education towards a skill. As long as the skill is a part of the higher education or the education system, skills will not happen in this country. And that is one particular reason because skill was part of; out of 60,000 schools, only 2,000 schools would have some skill education. Earlier we thought about the vocational equation. So this bias has been there with higher education and till date, it is there. Now to migrate out from there and make people aspirationally move out in skills is the biggest challenge what we are facing today. The man who makes your life easy or driver, the man who fixes this microphone, the man who sets up the stage, the man who decorates the table and puts a flower vase there, the man who operates the television camera, the man who prepares this badge when you enter, all is a skill but we do not identify them. Now this was the biggest challenge because when we talk about India we talk about thousand 260 million people and when we talk about unorganized workforce we talk about 500 million people and this is where the statistics come around. And then the whole definition of skills. It is not when Rajiv Pratap Rudy came in as a skill minister that skills have started, skills have been happening in the system. But everyone has been skilling as per whoever thought whatever is required for the system. Except one formal vertical of skilling which was happening in the ITIs under NCVT, there were no skills. So all was traditional skills or skills which industry would create and train people, induct them and train people.
Some part was apprenticeship and for whatever archaic apprenticeship law which we had in this country which has fortunately been revised now to remove all those stringent conditions has not been absorbed by the industry because the industry is still very wary of the apprenticeship law which existed in this country for 40 years. Mrs. Gandhi’s 20-point programme, one programme in the seventies was ‘Amend the Apprenticeship Act’ which this government, and I would say proudly after 30 years has amended that and still not gone because 45 years the industry has faced the wrath of old apprenticeship act. And World over apprenticeship, China has about 3 crores, Japan about a crore and throughout the world, we have just about 2 lacs or so. We are no match. So we have absolutely created an ecosystem which has a complete mismatch with skills. We can talk about make in India but make in India will not happen until and unless you have makers in India which is the skilled workforce. That definition is lacking. Make in India of course but where are the makers in India, we have to put them. Now the first thing what we have done today which all of us from the industry must appreciate is we have given in last one year a framework or an ecosystem for skills and today in the government of India there were 24 ministries with more than 80 odd schemes being done on skills.
So now there is a complete framework as per the skills are concerned and no one can go here and there and everyone has to align with that skill framework which is called the national skills qualification framework drawn from NSQ, vocational education framework and from the ministry of labor. From level one to ten it is the NSQ level of 1 to 10, which is being recognized and to make it across the world, skills have the statutory backup, India doesn’t have. So far we have NSQF which is our executive order of a cabinet note but in times to come we are going to have NSQF act which has a legislative backing for skills in India so that all those who pass out from ITIs who are ten drop outs, and when they get a degree or certificate or after 12th an ITI student who does 12th equivalent is not recognized as an equivalent for further progression. So if you join ITI you are over, you cannot become an engineer. So this progression from drop outs to schools to college, we are creating a framework where a lateral movement at any point of time from any skill qualification to a formal education becomes an easy pathway so that you can graduate.
So a professor of welding in Thailand or in U.K. would not be one who has done his engineering degree. A professor of welding in Thailand or Bangkok would be one who started his welding skills from class 8th and would graduate to become Ph.D. in welding which we cannot appreciate. Because for us, Ph.D. is doctors and doctors are M.A. economics, B.A. economics and so forth and so on. The whole concept for last 60 years in the system has been not in the right direction to create skills so this has created a scarcity. I do not know whether some of you maybe are aware the figures which exist. Out of 18 lacs engineering seats our aspirations are becoming an engineer.5 years ago in village or district when it was said that when my son or son-in-law is an engineer, then people would look up that my son-in-law is an engineer. Today engineers are drawing a flat salary of, 90% of the engineers who pass out drawing a flat salary of 8 to 10 thousand rupees or maybe 15 thousand rupees. Because today the demand has gone down so deeply that out of 18 lacs engineering seats, 8 and a half lacs engineering seats are vacant, there are no takers. Because the industry says we do not want engineers we want people who are skilled people who have skilled manpower who can actually deliver. And that is why this whole ecosystem has come into existence.
For example, today the country knows and we all know that there are nuances each and every action, every job has been identified and many more which we are adding. So there are about 8 thousand national occupational standards. Each and every action, the man who puts a strap on your watch, the man who shows on a counter your wife ornaments in the shop, every job has been mapped but that was not good enough. So that had to be migrated into the NSQF level which needs a qualification pack or a job role. So qualification pack is something which took me a while to understand and if I talk to you who maybe in the industry or I talk to Mr. Goenka about welder most of us as before I came to the skilling sphere and I did not have an engineering background. I would only understand a welder who I see on the roadside or small shop where he is making grills and gates. So for him, for me, that is a welder or welder somewhere else in a building or something like that. But today I recognize about 10 categories or 12 categories of welder and all have a different, one who makes steel windows and doors, the other is one who is working on Hyundai motors assembly line where he puts 10 stitches in about 2 minutes with a different torch and the assembly lines move. But his work conditions, his training is different, his whole qualification pack for being a welder for a sachet or moment or a plant is different. But if I look into a gas pipeline Hazira-Vijaipurgas pipeline, the welders who are working there in open have a different flame, different torch, they have a different qualification working there, different qualification for safety and regulatory conditions, they are also welders and there pay skills are different. And there is a welder who goes deep into the sea to work on the oil rig. So he is a scuba diver his torch is different his training is different and he gets a salary of 2 lacs rupees or someone who dives below the sea and welds a frame inside a ship.
So for me, the welders are of different categories altogether. But for a common man, this would differ. For example I still, it’s a simple way of explaining a qualification pack and all this is put into the system which people has told us and I will come back to the industry. Would not make a right reference, but I’m the only parliamentarian an individual who flies big planes. I’m a captain with one of the largest airlines in the country and I fly A320 jets. Now for me to be a captain on an airline and most of you do not know if anyone else has flown with me so I have to have a CPL which is for flying and holding a CPL I can become an instructor but if I to become a A320 pilot I have to do my navigation course pass my navigation, metrology, and air traffic controller and all this combined makes me a qualification pack for a pilot. So we have developed all this which is moving in a big way to have the right ecosystem for skills. But there is a challenge to integrate it with the industry.
Now the biggest challenge what we are facing is that industry for last two decades has been saying that we do not have the right manpower. We do not need very qualified people; we need entry level people who can build up the industry. They could be good ITians, ITs and things for like that. But there is a big shortage. And that is why in the private space, a sector skill concept under NSQF was created where industry and today we have sector skill concept for construction, for autos, for retail, for life sciences, for health, for adventure, for tourism, for sports, for all the fields and all these bodies being headed by the industry. If we are talking about hospitality, then there is Mr. Oberoi who heads the hospitality sector skill council. If you are talking about many more such so and the industry has to decide to create what is required for what job role. If someone is required for a particular job role, we do not need a whole exercise of engineering for that, we require entry level jobs which possibly in Germany and France and other places are organized. But we have to create that. And people talk about plumbers and other things and these are smaller versions of our requirements. So what we are doing today is creating a right ecosystem.
I can tell you many more examples. The Peruvian ambassador here was upset with me because I had quoted this but can you actually imagine that Peru Lima is about 18,000 km from Delhi. And visas were being issued in the embassies at Peru for Peruvian nationals to come down to Delhi and Jaipur to operate back hole operators, long hole drill operators, and all those heavy machines. So just imagine so far in last so many years we have not been able to create a right ecosystem even to operate big machines. Compactors, graders and so on so forth. I from the state of Bihar and the joining state is Jharkhand. Tata motors exists in Jharkhand. They manufacture Telco trucks. But for last 21 years, not one heavy vehicle license has been issued in the state of Jharkhand or Bihar. So there is something very wrong about skills which we have actually not assessed. Now how do we move forward? The Prime minister said that we have to integrate but what is short term skilling is just trying to put in to feed the requirement of the industry but we have to integrate both skills and entrepreneurship right from school stage. And if we are unable to integrate skilling from school stage because everyone cannot become the top boss, he has to literally move out for his employment at whatever age he finds himself worthy of. And he should be allowed to move out of the system, use his skills to get employed and subsequently if he is good enough then equivalence should be established for him to have a path of progression and this is the paradigm change for what we are talking about. So we are moving in that direction, the prime minister is absolutely clear that we have to create this workforce which is for the industry and I can give you many more examples of this but it takes a lot of time but we are absolutely clear. The roadmap for the skills is very well created but the industry has to come forward and partner us. And we have given every possible model to the industry.
Skills can not only be the government. When you are talking about Swacch Bharat, ‘skills’ is a part of the national campaign. Every industry has to move in this direction to partner us to create skills for the backlog which we have created in this country. Even language is a skill and today if you don’t educate anyone, let him not pass his matriculation. If you could just tenth drop out, experiment. I can give you 100 boys and girls, tenth pass out or not even tenth pass out, if you give him a 6 months course and if you can speak English, he is well groomed, he can carry himself along, he is good enough for employment. Let’s forget any degree. The industry is looking; I was in a resort in Jodhpur. So the boys who came to my room speak welcome sir, enjoy your meal sir, how is your stay sir. So I started talking to him in English. He did not know the fifth sentence. Because the owner had worked very hard to exactly explain him the gestures after each action. And they were doing so well. But one of them was speaking better so he said after I learned all that I saw that my tips went up. So he used the apps to promote himself in English. So it’s a mindset.
While in the cockpit while I was flying, and I will tell you the ‘disconnect’. So I would generally say hello to the girls who would come to serve tea or coffee and talk to them about the background. 90 out of every 100 girls who flew in Indigo, 95 girls who come as air hostesses or who were there in as the crew, 95 would be from Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, all the metros. 5 would be from Raipur, Patna, Jharkhand. It’s not that girls there are not smart, that the girls there are not educated or the girls there cannot join. Simply their grooming and English is a constraint. And the day they are over it, good enough. So there are a lot of gaps in almost every sector. Because the entire focus of our system has been education and degrees. And my aspiration would be the day, today we have matrimonial ads which read I need a daughter- -in-law who is a graduate, who is a scientist, or my son in law is an engineer, or a doctor or IAS officer or IPS officer. We would think in this government we would have achieved when there are advertisements in matrimonial columns which say I need a son who is a master chef, master plumber, I do not know when this would happen. But we will wait for the time when that happens and this is our aspiration.Thankyou.”
This speech was delivered by Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State (IC) of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and Minister of State of Parliamentary Affairs, Government of India at AIMA’s 2nd National Leadership Conclave which took place on 3rd& 4th March 2016.