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Vocational skills training in India 

By: Santosh Digal.
Bangalore-based Functional Vocational Training and Research Society (FVTRS) is a broad framework for Vocational Training for the benefit of the unorganised sector in India. It was instituted by Misereor- a German Funding Organisation – following the realisation that non-formal vocational training was a critical need in India, and needed special focus and support in addition to the regular support provided by Misereor to its partners for other development interventions.

This concept paved way for starting FVTRS in 1993. The focus was on making the target community – school dropouts and illiterate youth – employable by building skills to earn a living in a trade of their choice, and preferably to become successful entrepreneurs to provide more employment for others. Its vision is to make “A just and humane society of empowered communities, equipped with skills to contribute to their personal well-being and to that of society.”

Santosh Digal talked to P. M. Philip, Executive Director of FVTRS.

Q: Please tell us in brief about FVTRS.

A: Functional Vocational Training and Research Society (FVTRS), a Bangalore based organisation was started in 1993 to organise professional coordination and efficient monitoring of vocational skill training projects in India. The focus youth group identified was the school dropouts and illiterate as they are in huge number in India.

Hence for the last 23 years FVTRS has been supporting projects to promote functional vocational skill training for the school dropout youth. FVTRS provided skill training to more than one 100,000  youth by building technical skills in various trades to help them build livelihood on their own. FVTRS in this process is supporting Civil Society Organisations across various states in India to organise skill training activities. Simultaneously also focusing on building their entrepreneurial capacity and life skills to promote more of successful entrepreneurs rather than employees. We are creating a Training of Trainers (ToT) on Entrepreneurship Development and Life Skills to create successful entrepreneurs. Along with this we facilitate the school dropout youth, to obtain 10th class certificate by pursuing academic studies or by attending skill training in any trade of their choice under the scheme of National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).

Q: What were the major breakthrough achievements of FVTRS?

A: FVTRS have so far trained 1,19,000 youths through 941 projects. Among them 58% are women and 62% belongs to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe category(SC/ST). The employment rate is 70%.

We have also initiated organising the skilled workers as occupational groups (Skill Net) based on self help principle aiming at skill upgradation and enhancement of the livelihood engagement.


FVTRS also supports skill training projects in the disaster affected areas like tsunami affected areas in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and communal riot affected areas in Orissa.

We are mainstreaming the EDP and life skills training along with the vocational training so that the trainees become more efficient entrepreneurs. We have created a pool of resource persons for EDP and life skills who are spread across the country.

With National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), so far we have facilitated accreditation of 42 partners since last six years. So far around 6250 trainees have been enrolled of which 2777 has appeared for examination and 1915 has so far passed the examinations.

We have been able to reach out to many civil society organisations through National Skill Conferences conducted every year from 2007. This forum has been used to mobilise the partners of skill training and also redefine the perspectives and strategies in skill training. Of late we are trying to promote a community owned skill training as well as understanding skill training beyond an activity but as a process which is continues and sustainable. Thus we are promoting ‘Skilling Community Owned Promotion and Enhancement (SCOPE)’ as an approach and ‘Skill Net’ as a strategy to promote Skill Development Process with community ownership.

Q: You have been focusing on the backward regions, communities, women and the most vulnerable groups. What is been your journey in this regard?
A: At present we have a total of 70 running projects spread out in 18 States including North East  India. Out of this 80% of the projects are implemented in the backward states of the country.

During this year we have trained 6849 youth of which 4401 are women which is 64% and 2248 are men which is 36%. Among the trained youth 1672 belongs to SC, 1206 belongs to ST and 3971 belongs to Other Backward Category(OBBC) and others. This means 42 % trainees are from SC/ST. So far FVTRS has trained 119552 youth of which 69367 are women and 72264 are from the backward communities.

Last year onwards we are giving special Most Vulnerable Groups (MVG) and targeted at least 5%. It has been reported that in the last one year partners have trained 568 persons who are considered as most vulnerable groups which is around seven percent.

Q: FVTRS has been contributing towards the process of empowering young India in terms of skill development for creating better livelihood options for the marginalized. How do you look at the process?

A: If one looks at the present the skills training scenario, it focuses more on secondary sector or tertiary sector and providing wage employment which will fetch them a monthly earning around Rs. 8000 per month. Most of these employment opportunities are in urban area and this wage is insignificant in terms of leading a decent life in cities. Most of the job opportunities in this sector are in cities. Hence it is accessible only to the urban poor and not for the rural communities where the most of the labour force is available. So, if at all they have to access these jobs they have to migrate and face the consequences of migration. Therefore it is inadequate to provide a decent livelihood.

In the case of FVTRS, the average employment rate of our youth is about 70%. If I look at the employment pattern there are three types of placement we can see- wage employment, self-employment and collective employment. In wage employment, the person has to depend on the employer and he is also exposed to exploitative situations attached to any employment. In self- employment, the person is independent in making decisions and using resources and benefits the entire fruits of his labour. In collective employment, along with the advantages of self-employment the growth of individuals is together. Hence, we are increasingly promoting the second and third types while not ignoring the first which will facilitate localized employment and support local economy. It also contributes to reduce the distress migration.

Q: How to expedite the action process on the importance of having community based skill development system which would substantially contribute for the poor and most deserving people in rural areas?

A: The main theme of the National Skill conference 2015 was community based skill training. There after we are consistently sensitizing and promoting our partners to adopt this approach. We launched skill net in Karnataka on October 2015. It has been replicated to the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh later. A preliminary data has given above. In National Skill Conference 2016 it has been decided not only in the above states but also in other states wherever the FVTRS project is implemented the trainees will be organized as skill net groups.

Since, this is a new concept we are implementing this as an action research in six locations of this country with six partners.

Q: What are the difficulties FVTRS faces in this journey of skill development process?

  1. The focus of the government sponsored skill training initiatives are for the youth completed 10th and above.
  2. Most of these courses are designed to supply skilled workers for industries and commercial establishments. It is not focusing on primary and unorganised sector.
  3. Most of the training facilities and services are urban based and not easily accessible to the rural population.
  4. Stigma attached to skilled work against white color job.
  5. Difficulty in creating interest in skill training and follow -up of the trained youth.
  6. Sustainable resource support for skill training.
  7. Limited perspective on skill training specially in terms of scope and stereotype.

Q: How are you finding a way to address those gaps?

A: We continue to sensitise the communities and stakeholders on the need of promoting skill training to the unorganised sector. The community based approach and skill net is expected to focus more on the rural areas, primary sector and unorganised. The understanding of skill development as a process will make it more sustainable and effective. The activities like the savings and thrift, internal training mechanisms and accessing government schemes promoted through skill net will also contribute to address few of the above gaps. We are also intending to promote something called skill support mission in order to mobilize local resources for skill training especially through our alumni’s which will be shared by the partner organisations and FVTRS.

Q: AFVTRS is working in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Teleganga, North East, West Bengal, Odisha, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Jammu Kashmir, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Which state has maximum impact of your programmes and why?

A:  We have not done any comparative impact study between the states. Therefore, it is not possible to comment in this.

Q: What is your comment on the knowledge management related to skill building of tribals towards generation of productive and gainful employment and self-employment?

A: We are not much familiar with knowledge products on skill building of tribals. However, we are in the process of conducting research on this covering the states of Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Q: FVTRS has developed a frame work for need assessment of primary sector which is P6 (production, productivity, procurement, processing, preservation and promotion). Is this model is effective?

A: We have familiarized this framework with our partners. However, we are not aware much about using this framework by our partners. In fact we wanted to pilot this in few organisations which we are not able to do as we are not able to use our resources for this, as our resource is mandated for vocational skill training which will give the training and earnings immediately after the training.

Q: Any other factors that affect FVTRS ?

A: We need to be conscious about the culture and attitude of the poor and marginalized while designing skill development strategies for them. It is not uniform across the country and very specific to geographical locations, ethnicity and religious background. For example, if you take tribal community, they are satisfied as they are. In this case the first thing we have to do is create aspiration for their growth.

Today because of the thrust given to skill training and corporate social responsibility they are also becoming social workers and human development workers. We need to remember the fact that business and the human development are two different portfolios and requires specialized skills.

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One Response to Vocational skills training in India

  1. Bapi Biswas

    Happy to see the contributions and wish you all the very best.

    thank you.

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