The India Skill Story

Making 500 million people employable

India faces a curious dilemma. In the next two decades, it will add over 200 million people to its working age - between 18 to 60 years - population. Much more than any other country in the world. Even China, seen as the mother lode of the global economy this century, will see its workforce shrink by about 100 million by 2030.

For India, more working people means more income. More income means a more prosperous nation. For a country that will become a middle income nation - per capita annual wages of $1,200, translating into Rs 4,500 a month - by the end of 2010/11 after more than a century of penury, its young population presents a never-before opportunity for transition.

That is, if it can get its people readied for work. If it can train its young to man global standard factories. If it can get its young to be smart accountants. If it can turn its young into efficient yet friendly front office staff at super markets. If it can have its young tell the difference between a dovetail joint and a lap joint in a well-crafted wooden table. If it can produce enough nurses and doctors to charm and heal the world's increasing old. If it can...

Aiding that effort is the National Skill Development Corporation, or NSDC, a partnership between the Union government and industry associations. The National Skill Development Policy puts the need for skilled hands in India at 530 million. NSDC has been entrusted the task of producing a 150-million-strong skilled workforce by 2022, or some 13 million a year. (The remaining 350 million, it is expected, will be covered by the current crop of colleges, ITIs and other institutions.) That's a big jump from the three million skilled workers India produces annually today. NSDC has committed Rs 667 crore to support private and government-aided skill initiatives and has given its nod to 26 projects to date (See NSDC's Project Partners). Several more are in the pipeline - Business Today April 2011