Ministry cites contractors’ preference to employ informal workers on lower wages in contrast to government’s push to train and certify skilled workers
All workers executing government contracts must have official certification for their skills, the government has decided. Only 2.4% of India’s workforce is formally trained as per the Periodic Labour Force Survey of 2018-19.
The Skills Development and Entrepreneurship Ministry has asked all government departments to mandate this requirement for all contracts issued under their watch, citing contractors’ preference to employ informal workers on lower wages in contrast to the government’s push to train and certify skilled workers.
“If the above provision cannot be applied in toto immediately, then a phase-wise application can be thought of… it can be mandated that up to 10% of the strength of skilled workers utilised in 2021-22 will be certified skilled workers, which shall be progressively increased to 100% by 2026-27,” Pradeep Kumar, Secretary, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, has written in a communiqué to all Ministries.
Government contractors in particular, prefer to rely on informal workers with low salaries for meeting their labour needs, Mr. Kumar has stressed, creating a dichotomy where the government is trying to promote skilling in the workforce without insisting on the use of skilled manpower for its own projects.
“Perhaps, the time has come for mandating the engagement of certified skilled workers by Government contractors. Besides higher productivity and output quality in government contract works, a beneficial impact would be the improvement in wages for the skilled manpower hired,” the Secretary pointed out.
India’s skill regulator, the National Council for Vocational Education and Training, has standardised skill certification systems for 4,000-odd job roles, as part of an effort to change the labour market structure from a largely unskilled one to a predominantly formally skilled workforce. Stipulating engagement of certified skilled workers would make more people seek certification and influence industry hire practices as well, the Ministry has reasoned.
“Given the quantum of manpower engaged in government and government contract works, this would help in making skilling aspirational for our youth and spread the culture of certified skilling. And demand for skilling would start coming from the industry and labour force itself, which will prefer to pay for skilling itself, doing away with the present system of the Government trying to drive skilling through funding,” Mr. Kumar noted.
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