Modi hardsells skill development to attract youth

Gandhinagar (Gujarat), Sep 27 (IANS) Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, his eyes firmly on the prime ministerial chair, is hardselling his government's skill development achievements ahead of the general elections in a bid to win over disillusioned youth.

In an event here earlier this week, attended by over 7,000 people, Modi made a big show of the state's skill development programmes, which he said would help the country shape up its youth according to global requirements.

India has a target to train 500 million people by 2022, and of these the Gujarat government has set a target to skill 25 million youth by 2022. The target group for skill development comprises all those in the labour force, including those entering the labour market for the first time.

According to a report of National Skill Development Corporation, the net enrollment in vocational courses in India is about 5.5 million per year compared to 90 million in China and 11.3 million in the United States. A mere two per cent of Indian workers are formally skilled.

The Gujarat government has taken up a slew of projects. Modi may like to replicate these projects across the country, if he gets to steer the nation. He is the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate for the next general elections due in 2014.

The Gujarat government has set up a Commissionerate of Employment and Training (CET) to facilitate industrial development by implementing various skill-building programmes across the state. Under CET, now 263 government Industrial Training Institutes (ITI), 335 Kaushalya Vardhan Kendras, 617 Vocational Training Providers, and 41 Employment Exchanges are functioning.

A team of more than 6,500 people imparts training to 786,794 people at various training institutes in different training programmes under the Commissionerate and assist around 225,550 people to get employment through Employment Exchanges.

Then there is Gujarat Skill Development Mission which acts as an apex body for monitoring and coordination, and provides overall policy direction to skill development activities in the state.

The state is trying to build industry responsive skill development to bridge the gap between academia and industry. The government has set up skill development centres for short-term bridge courses under public-private-partnership mode.

It has also signed 24 Flexi MoU with industry frontrunners like Eicher, Toyota, Larsen & Toubro, General Motors, Mahindra & Mahindra, Volkswagen, ABG Shipyard among others. These pacts are meant for knowledge, technical and infrastructural participation by industries.

Gujarat is celebrating 2013 as Youth Development Year. Industries Minister Saurabhbhai Patel said as Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi stood for 'Satyameva Jayate' (Truth Alone Triumphs), similarly Modi stands for 'Srameva Jayate' (Labour Alone Triumphs).

Modi also harped on the need for skill development in India. "Unemployment is a big problem. At one point we have demand for skilled manpower on the other hand there is dearth of skilled people."

Skill development may be a gambit Modi is using to mobilise the youth population, but whether it will help him achieve his political ambition is anybody's guess.

(Aparajita Gupta can be contacted at aparajita.g@ians.in)

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