J&K's skill policy remains a distant dream

With an aim to create a “culture of entrepreneurship” in employment starved Jammu and Kashmir, Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha led government is mulling to devise a comprehensive skill policy and roadmap for employment generation—however, according to many, the policy remains a distant dream.

Officials told Greater Kashmir that the process of devising fresh skill policy and skill roadmap for Jammu & Kashmir has been initiated, so that future strategies are formulated to prepare youth on skill and entrepreneurship development.

Officials said that earlier, the Chief Executive Officer, Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency and Jhelum Tawi Flood Recovery Project, Dr. Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, who was heading the mission till recently, chaired series of meeting and directed the officials to work on formulating the policy on priority basis. The Skill Mission is headed by Dr Shahid Choudhry now.

Director, Skill Development Department, Sajad Hussain Ganai, said that there are several programmes under way—which have been devised in order to benefit the young generations of Jammu and Kashmir in a big way. He said that the officials during the meeting were directed that in order to gain in-depth understanding of the existing skill ecosystem, a fresh analysis is essential to ascertain the demand and supply of the labour market, industry requirements etc.

“We are going for some basic baseline study. It will provide grassroots level information about the different parameters required for developing the skill roadmap of J&K,” “We are working to channelize the talent of youth in the right direction and this skill gap study will help in charting future strategy to prepare our youth for jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities,” he said.

He said that government was working to go for a skill-gap study, which according to him would be conducted to ascertain the exact picture of demand and supply of skilled workforce in J&K which will be followed by youth aspiration survey to gain information about the skill aspirations of present day youth

The skill gap study would estimate demand and supply of skills at district level and translate the gap in demand and supply into a UT and district level action plan. It will also ascertain the priority sectors for skilling in J&K that can provide employment to the local youth, identify job roles that are in high demand in these priority sectors and categorize skills that are required by the industry for these job roles.

Ganai said that according to government order, every district is supposed to have District Skill Action Committee—which is headed by the Deputy Commissioner concerned.

He said that youth aspiration surveys through focus group discussions are to conducted in each district to understand the skilling and learning aspirations of the region’s youth, their preference for various types of jobs and location, employment in J&K UT and outside.

The official said that based on the findings of the surveys, a skill policy will be devised which shall become guiding force for the government to undertake skill and entrepreneurship development initiatives in J&K.

Officials said that EOIs for conducting Skill Gap Study, Youth Aspiration Survey and Formulation of Skill Policy were finalized. They informed that the process for inviting EOIs from reputed consultancy services for developing MIS has been initiated as was given out in the meeting.

‘Skill Gaps & Administrative Inertia’

A senior official at Civil Secretariat, wishing not be named, told Greater Kashmir that government failed to formulate the policy despite having funds available.

“There is no process in this (Skill Policy) from last six months. Around 40 lakh funds were available with the Mission for the rollout the policy and some share was to be borne by the UT government, however there was lot of lip service in this regard,” the official said.

The official said that in September, 2020, a high level meeting was chaired by the Principal Secretary, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon to review its bottlenecks.

“Lot of decision were taken. But months passed and nothing productive happened in this case.” “Also the Directorate of Technical Education was to float request for proposal (RFP) in which they failed and this affected the overall process.”

The official said that a proposal of revamping the traditional polytechnic colleges and ITIs was also on cards for which government was planning to hire few consultants. However, was done in this regard too.

“The Consultants were supposed to study the gaps in the polytechnic colleges and it is and Finance department was approached. The government had formulated a committee to look into it on priority, however nothing on the ground is coming up till now.”

Pertinently, India’s goal of skilling 400 million people under the National Skills Development Programme is too large, unnecessary and unattainable, a centre government-appointed national committee found. The Sector Skill Councils are autonomous, industry-led, sector-specific skill builders that ensure skills training meets employer needs.