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Lessons for India from Rajasthan’s skill development initiatives: Ashok Chandna, State Minister, Government of Rajasthan

Ashok Chandna, State Minister, Government of Rajasthan

The Rajasthan Skill & Livelihoods Development Corporation (RSLDC) is the only state skill development corporation that is implementing three state skill development schemes funded by the state government—these are Rajkvik, Sakshm and Samarth. Besides these, there are three centrally-sponsored schemes (DDU-GKY, PMKVY and SANKALP). These schemes are being implemented with the objective of covering various areas and segments of the society with a special focus on the disadvantaged section of the society. The SANKALP project aims to strengthen skill ecosystem up to district level and increase the share of the disadvantaged people in skilling activities. “The RSLDC is working towards both self and wage employability by opting innovative models,” says Ashok Chandna, state minister, Government of Rajasthan (Youth Affairs & Sports; Skill, Employment & Entrepreneurship; Transport; and Soldier Welfare departments). In an interview with FE’s Vikram Chaudhary, on the occasion of the World Youth Skills Day, he shares certain skill development initiatives of Rajasthan that can be replicated at the national level. Excerpts:

What are the key differences between the Mukhya Mantri Yuva Kaushal Yojna (MMYKY) and the MMYKY 2.0?

The MMYKY was launched in 2019 to provide employable skilling to students of second/final year of graduation in government colleges of Rajasthan. After the Covid-19 pandemic, when conducting physical training became a challenge, the RSLDC opted for a new avatar of the MMYKY (which includes online mode of training for students of government colleges). This model was renamed as the MMYKY 2.0 from this financial year.

The hospitality sector has been negatively impacted due to the lockdown. Rajasthan gets a lot of revenue from tourism and many jobs are dependent on tourism. Because of the lockdown, a large number of jobs in tourism and related sectors have been lost. Do you have any schemes for upskilling people from such sectors so that they can find jobs in other sectors?

It is true that due to Covid-19 job losses are visible in the hospitality sector. Post-Covid-19, the RSLDC’s special emphasis has been on offering more skilling courses in the hospitality sector (skilling, reskilling and upskilling). Along with this, various tie-ups with the hospitality sector skill council and the hospitality industry will be explored.

Recently the Rajasthan government started a drive to make Jaipur beggar-free by imparting skills training. What are these skills, and do such initiatives really work?

The RSLDC in collaboration with the Social Justice and Empowerment Department and Police Commissionerate Jaipur has undertaken a pilot project for mainstreaming of beggars by providing them skill training. In this, 100 beggars keen on skilling were identified and five batches (20 youth per batch) have been started for imparting training in hospitality (cook), housekeeping, housekeeping in hospitals and catering services. Post the training, they will be engaged in gainful employment activities in coordination with district administration, industry department and placement agencies. After completion of one batch and the response of employers shown during the placement, the initiative appears to be a successful one; I truly believe it will make Jaipur beggar-free, set an example for other cities, and can be replicated across the country.

Skilling someone is easy, but the real challenge is connecting them to the job market…

All courses run by the RSLDC are aligned with industry demand. Collaboration with industry, tie-ups with placement agencies, and the development of Rajkaushal Portal for making an arrangement to bring employer and prospective youth on one platform are some initiatives for connecting skilled youth to the job market.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has said that the demand for plumbers and electricians in rural areas will go up in near future. What will lead to their demand going up?

As per the mandate of the Jal Jeevan Mission, services of personnel trained in plumbing, electrician and fitter trades will be required up to the village level, to ensure successful implementation and sustainability of Har Ghar Nal Yojna.

Is your ministry taking special steps to make women of Rajasthan more employable?

Yes, the department of skill, employment & entrepreneurship, in collaboration with women empowerment ministry, is running IM Shakti, a special scheme for women candidates. In addition, the RSLDC is focused on women training under its existing schemes. Registration fee for women candidates is kept very nominal and dedicated batches of women candidates are also promoted. The RSLDC has trained 1,25,113 women, which indicates the prioritisation of women in skill training.

Have you developed any learning set in the area of skilling in the state of Rajasthan that can be replicated at the national level?

Yes, our initiatives such as training and mainstreaming of beggars, enhancing employability of college youth by providing skill training under the MMYKY so that they can become job-ready as soon as they graduate, and steps taken towards empowerment of women can set an example for others.

Do you have any suggestions for the new Union skills minister Dharmendra Pradhan?

First of all I would like to congratulate the respected Union minister that at a relatively young age he has gotten the responsibility of a ministry that possibly deals with the largest youth population in the world. My suggestion would be to also focus on online training; for example, the DDU-GKY provides placement-linked skill training, but candidates are required to physically attend all classes (which may not always be possible due to lockdowns), so an online component (wherever it can be done easily without affecting the quality of training) would help. Also, increased participation of industry in the skill ecosystem will enhance employment opportunities for the country’s youth.

You have been a sportsperson. Do you have any learning set from the sporting world that can be replicated in skilling?

It has been observed that behavioural and soft skills are required to excel in any sport. Post-Covid-19, a lot of behavioural problems are emerging amongst the youth, which can be reduced by a mix of sports and skill activities.

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