Indo - Swedish Collaboration: Skill Development

3 Years agoCountdown to #IndiaInStockholm, where cooperation in Skill Development takes centre stage. Read on in our article, here.

Skill development is a pivotal component for economic growth of a nation and eventually contributes to its development. It is important for increasing productivity, employability and promoting sustainable enterprise development. Around, 62% of Indian youth belongs to the working age group (15-59 years) and more than 54% of the total population are below the age of 25 years.1 Furthermore, according to the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2025, it is predicted that the average age of the population by 2020 will be 29 years, compared to 40 years in USA and 46 years in Europe.2 These estimates reflect that India will continue to be the youngest nation by average age in 2020.3

Additionally, it is believed that the labour force in the industrialised world is expected to decline by 4% in the next two decades, but India is predicted to witness a spike of 32%.4 In the present scenario, the percentage of workforce who have undergone formal training in India is 4.7%, and the scope of growth is immense when compared to developed nations such as USA (52%), UK (68%), Germany (75%) and Japan (80%).5 This in turn represents a massive opportunity for the country to tap into its favourable demographic dividend and create a market for a workforce with a prerequisite skill set.6 According to a study conducted by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) for the period 2010-14, it is predicted that more than 109.73 million, additional skilled manpower will be required across different sectors by 2022.7

Currently, the ecosystem in India is undergoing a transformation with the introduction of supportive policies launched by the government. To tap into India’s potential in the sphere of skill development, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) was set up in 2014 to steer the ‘Skill India’ campaign8 . After the launch of the campaign, the number of trained citizens has witnessed a spike - from 0.12 million in the Financial Year (FY) 2014-15 to 0.16 million in FY 2015-16.9

As India is moving forward to realise its vision of a knowledge economy, the country must focus on providing the appropriate entrepreneurship ecosystem to young aspirants. Recognising the need for this ecosystem, the government launched the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (NSDE) in 2014 to fulfil skilling needs of the youth, keeping in mind long-term goals such as sustainability and quality.10 The Policy has four thrust areas:

  • Addressing major obstacles in the sphere of skilling,
  • Aligning supply and demand for skills,
  • Promoting industry engagement and
  • Leveraging technology for apprenticeship training.11

Similarly, MSDE introduced its flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana in July 2015 with a financial outlay of USD 1.85 billion which will benefit 10 million people over a period of four years (2016-2020). According to statistics, 1.98 million candidates have been enrolled under this scheme, out of which 1.79 million have been trained and 1.1 million have been certified.12

To involve the private sector in skill development, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) was set up to run industry-driven courses with its focus on providing employment. The primary objectives of this Public Private Partnership (PPP) model include the upgradation of skills to international standards through industry involvement and enhancing and supporting private sector initiatives for skill development. Besides, NSDC also plays the role of a ‘market maker’ by bringing finances, particularly in sectors where market mechanisms are not in place. As of now, 5.2 million students have been trained and 38 Sector Skill Councils have been approved in services, manufacturing, agriculture and allied services.13

Furthermore, in another scheme, new Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) have been established or existing ones have been upgraded, with state-of- the-art facilities. The success of this Scheme can be measured from the rise of ITIs in the last two years - from 10,750 institutes in 2014 to over 13,105 in May 2016.14 Consequently, to empower women and spur their growth as entrepreneurs, MSDE has also laid the foundation stone of the first Regional Vocational Training Institute (RVTI) in Hyderabad, which has been exclusively set up to impart training to women. Currently, there are 17 such institutes functional in the country, but MSDE plans to set up one RVTI in each state.15

The introduction of a National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) tries to bring convergence between general education, vocational education and training. This framework is based on competency and segregates qualifications according to different levels of knowledge, skill and aptitude. Under NSQF, a learner can get certification at any level through either formal, informal or non-formal learning. In fact, over the last two years, 1661 qualifications from both NSDC and ITI ecosystems have been tailored in sync with NSQF.16 NSDC has also mandated all its partners to run NSQF-compliant courses.


Indo-Sweden Synergy in Skilling


India and Sweden have shared a long-standing and fruitful relationship for over two decades. Two leading Swedish companies - Ericsson and Swedish Match - were present in India even in the early 20th century. Today, other Swedish companies such as ABB, Scania, IKEA and H&M have also invested in the country, both with regard to manufacturing and research and development.17 At present, there are over 185 Swedish joint venture wholly owned subsidiaries in the country.18 These Swedish companies provide direct employment to 0.18 million people in India, while generating 1.3 million jobs indirectly.19

According to the 9th India-Sweden Business Climate Survey 2016-17, the business climate in India is favourable than ever before.

Key findings of the Survey20:

  • 1,85,000 direct jobs created by Swedish companies in India
  • 185 ventures presently existing in India
  • 65% of Swedish companies consider the business climate in India favourable
  • 8 out of 10 companies will invest more in the years to come
  • 7 out of 10 companies are involved in skill development

With the impetus provided by ‘Make in India’ and its complementary initiative ‘Skill India’, Sweden envisions involving local talent to boost their businesses in India. Furthermore, India and Sweden signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2017 to facilitate the mobility of trained personnel from India to Sweden. The deal inked between The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Visit Sweden will ensure India imparts vocational training to its citizens to cater to specific skill sets required for jobs in Sweden. According to statistics, 3,500 work permits have already been issued, out of which 3,000 are in the Information and Communication Technology sector. The other significant sectors are retail and hospitality.21 Additionally, MSDE in partnership with the Ministry of External Affairs would also be providing training for overseas employment through its India International Skill Centres, 15 out of which are operational in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Jharkhand, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Punjab, among other states.22 These centres have been set up with cooperation from NSDC.

A few examples clearly portray how India and Sweden are working in tandem to support skilling initiatives. The Swedish Healthcare Platform signed an agreement with the state government of Maharashtra in 2016 to train nurses in special skill sets such as infection control, wound care and diagnostics.23 In Sweden, nurses are given specialised training to enable them to take higher responsibility in the healthcare system. Imbibing this principle would aid India in enriching and empowering nurses in the country, who are the building blocks of the healthcare ecosystem.24

Another case in point is IKEA’s commitment to gender equality. The IKEA foundation has partnered with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to provide employment to one million underprivileged women across India.25 Currently, IKEA has a healthy gender ratio of 43% women and 57% men. To continually work towards increasing this number, there is a strong focus on identifying competent women employees and create a diverse pool of talent. IKEA proposes to employ 50 women for various positions at its first store in Hyderabad.26 With India set to become the world’s most populous nation by 2022, the country can reap the benefits of its demographic dividend and deepen the collaboration with Sweden to realise the vision of ‘Skill India’.27

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