Skills and employability in South Asia

Local women provided with skills training post Tsunami, Chinna, India.  ©ILO/T. Falise

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Skills and knowledge are key driving forces of economic growth and social development in any country, and the ability to sustain labour-intensive growth depends on whether a nation can expand the skills and capabilities of both its existing and future labour force.

As one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, India has prioritized skills development to promote a more inclusive and sustainable growth path. A critical challenge to achieving this goal is the large informal sector and the low level of skills development in the country.

The creation of a dedicated ministry, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, signals the Government of India’s prioritization of this policy area. India’s National Policy on Skill Development (2015) and the guidance contained in ILO Convention - Human Resources Development Convention, 1975 (No. 142) and Recommendation - Human Resources Development Recommendation, 2004 (No. 195) provide the framework for ILO’s work on skills development in India.

ILO’s work in this area is achieved through a mix of research, knowledge-sharing and capacity building activities, which are delivered through strategic partnerships and pilot projects undertaken with key skills system stakeholders. Significant activities include:
  • Support to the National Career Service
  • Inputs on a national labour market information system and recognition of prior learning
  • Strategies to improve the apprenticeship system
  • Development of National Occupational Skill Standards (NOSS) for trainers and assessors
  • Support on sectoral approaches to skills by supporting the establishment of the Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council
  • Development of training materials for barefoot technicians under GOI’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme
  • Facilitation of ways to enhance the employability of people with disabilities
  • Provision of advisory services on a range of skills development topics to strengthen the technical capacity of selected government partners

Key resources

  1. Rural Roads Maintenance Training Modules for Engineers & Contractors 01 December 2015 - Provides an overview of training modules on Rural Roads Maintenance

    01 December 2015

    The purpose of this training manual is to provide technical management staff and contractors with appropriate guidelines for the effective management of road maintenance works. They were produced through a collaborative effort between the International Labour Organization and the National Rural Road Development Agency under the technical assistance component of the World Bank supported Rural Roads Project-II of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana Project (PMGSY).

  2. © ILO
    ILO Director interacts during a BFTs training programme in Jodhpur, Rajasthan

    Training materials for Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA): barefoot technicians

    The ILO has been supporting South-South knowledge exchange on MGNREGA with MORD through the Employment Intensive Investment Program as early as 2004. Since 2010, the ILO has been collaborating closely with MORD and the Joint Secretaries of MGNREGA in the development of training material for the Innovations in Public Employment Programmes (IPEP). These training modules for Barefoot Technicians are part of the same initiative.

  3. Skills assessment in India: A discussion paper on policy, practice and capacity

    26 February 2015

    This discussion paper, prepared jointly by the British Council, India and the ILO, provides an overview of the successes and challenges facing the rapidly emerging third party skills assessment sector in India.

  4. Towards a model apprenticeship framework: A comparative analysis of national apprenticeship systems

    30 January 2014

    This ILO-World Bank report is based on eleven country case studies of national apprenticeship systems.

  5. Possible futures for the Indian Apprenticeship System: Options Paper for India

    30 January 2014

    This report presents the Indian case study and the options paper for reform in a single reference.

  6. Review of the Sources and Availability of Skill Development Data in India : Final report

    The purpose of this document is to review the sources of skills and TVET data and assess the availability of specific data sets relevant to future efforts to better understand the supply and demand of skills in India.

  7. Possible Futures for the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) Discussion Paper

    This report provides an impressionistic review of the National Council for Vocational Training in turn to provide a basis to reflect on the future mandate, role, responsibilities, and activities of the NCVT keeping in mind that other key skills agencies have emerged on the scene also mandated with certain roles and function.