India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, launched a programme on Wednesday aimed at imparting skill training to more than 400 million Indians over the next seven years “to make India the world’s human resource capital”.
Indian corporations and industry have often cited unskilled manpower as a big hurdle to filling existing jobs.
Modi described the plan as a key step in overcoming that problem at a launch in New Delhi.
“Today China is the world’s manufacturing hub and with this scheme, playing to our strength, India can aim to be the world’s human resource capital,” he said.
The government put the workforce shortage at about 110 million, in key sectors such as retail, textile and clothing and tourism.
“With only 2.3% of the workforce having received a formal training, India currently faces a severe shortage of well-trained, skilled workers,” Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the skill development and entrepreneurship minister, said earlier this week.
He added, however, that the “12-week training under the programme will now ensure you a job that 12 years of compulsory [school] education may not”.
The scheme will utilise the existing network of about 12,000 industrial training institutes along with decommissioned railway carriages and containers as mobile, makeshift classrooms for remote areas.
“We will also set a specific skills university in every state and hire around 60,000 retired defence personnel for training to be skill-trainers,” Rudy said.
Wednesday’s announcement was bare on funding details, but officials said the government expected close private sector participation.
Modi, who won office on a promise of jobs and economic growth, repeatedly emphasised the scheme’s scope for job creation, particularly for the “economically weaker sections of the society”.
“This isn’t for the rich but for the poor and economically weaker sections where students often don’t even complete formal school education,” Modi said.
“It will empower them with training and confidence to not just serve India but even prosperous countries across the world that need trained manpower,” he added.