[Gist of Kurushetra February 2021] Employment and Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Skilled Youth

Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana
Mains level: Central and State schemes relating to the employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for skilled youth

Introduction:

• A host of policy reforms, and expansion of agri-business opportunities have brought in a rapid transformation in the agriculture and allied sector due to the introduction of several applications in the domain of crop science and with the use of innovative technologies.

• Last year, even during the lock down due to the advent of COVID-19, the sector recorded a remarkable performance which has fuelled expectations for an agriculture led recovery of India’s economy.

Background:

• Due to millions of workers moving back to their homes in rural India because of the lockdown, there was an additional uptake in agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and sanitation services which brought in additional focus on skilling and upskilling of people in the respective geographies.

• The Government of India also launched ambitious programmes for agri-infrastructure, credit, market reforms, minimum basic income, and risk management, which acre expected to improve profitability of farming and farm ventures.

• Agricultural marketing is expected to attract more investments with the introduction of landmark reforms,reduce the market unpredictability and improve price realisation. It gives me pride to highlight that every ninth agri-tech startup in the world is from India and these are growing at 25 percent, annually.

Central Schemes:

• It was observed that the main challenges of Skill development among the youth are the high cost of vocational training, less flexibility and mobility associated with vocational education. In order to make skill courses more accessible to the youth, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana or PMKVY was launched with an aim to train 10 million youth between 2016 and 2020. Agriculture training can be taken in 182 different job roles under PMKVY.

• Other than PMKVY, opportunities for short-term training in agriculture-related job roles are available under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), Mission for integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushal Vikas Yojana (DDUGKY), Ajeevika under National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), and Barefoot Technician Programme under Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). All youth aged 18 years and above who are citizens of India are eligible for these programmes. Besides, the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) has a special scheme Attracting and Retaining Youth in Agriculture for aspirational youth in the agriculture sector.

State Schemes:

• Apart from the Central schemes, States run their own forward-looking and aspirational skill development schemes that are NSQF-aligned and linked to employed creation.

• Some such schemes in which ASCI is involved in curriculum design, assessment, and certification are the Utkarsh Bangla scheme of West Bengal, Placement Linked Skill Training Programme of Assam, SURYA scheme of Haryana, Employment Linked Skill Training Programme of Rajasthan, Entrepreneurship and Employment Linked Skill Training Programme of Uttarakhand, skill training Programmes under APSSDC, UPSDM, and BSDM.

Skill Courses in schools and colleges:

• The New Education Policy 2020 as cleared by the Union Cabinet has proposed to make VET as an integral part of school and higher education in a phased manner. This is a historic form that have potential to address the long-standing issues of integrating vocational and academic education, ensure mobility, and make skill programmes aspirational. At present vocational subjects can be taken at the secondary (classes 9-10) and higher secondary levels (classes 11-12) under Samagra Siksha Abhiyaan of the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD). Till now there 1527 schools across 22 States, which run agriculture courses assessed and certified courses.

• Skill-based programmes can also be taken as part of the higher education system under the University Grants Commission (UGC). The opportunities for doing a certificate, diploma, B.VOC. or M.VOC courses has expanded considerably. In these flexible credit-based skilling programmes there is also scope for multiple entries and exit enabling the candidates to enter job markets at the end of a course and re-join skilling programme at a higher level to upgrade skill competencies. At present, there are 130 UGC affiliated colleges where NSQF aligned skill-based training courses in agriculture are being run.

Apprenticeships:

• The National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) has significantly improved the scope, access, and effectiveness of the apprenticeship programme. Apprentices are now eligible for a monthly stipend of Rs. 5,000-9,000 depending on educational qualification and experience.

• There are a wide range of opportunities provided by agri-input companies, agri-logistics, warehouses, pack houses and commodity management; crop insurance, organised retail, and technology-intensive modern farms, which require skilled labour to manage their activities. Aspirants can self-register in the NAPS portal (https://apprenticeshipindia.org/). The duration of apprenticeship ranges from 6 months to 3 years.

Involvement of Industry:

• Industry participation in the skill ecosystem is critical for bridging the skill gaps, in-service and apprenticeship training, training of trainers, and absorption of trained candidates.

• Certificates under Skill India Mission carry a greater weight and wider acceptability as all the agriculture modules have been approved by professional bodies and largest industry players. Certified skilled candidates have also been able to secure international placements.

Support for Entrepreneurs:

• Many of the youth want to start their business enterprises after the training programme. Opportunities are a plenty under venture capital funds of different ministries. Initiative for Development of Entrepreneurs in Agriculture (IDEA) under RKVY, Venture Capital Finance Assistance (VCA) of Small Farmers’ Agribusiness Consortium (SFAC), ASPIRE scheme of the Ministry of MSME, Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) are a few initiatives aimed at boosting entrepreneurship.

• National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has issued a directive to Its member banks to prioritise bank loans to the ASCI certified candidates.

Conclusion:

• Agriculture is truly the backbone of India’s economy, reverberating with a new dynamism and excitement. The sector is poised for a big leap forward towards a sustainable future.

• India’s skill ecosystem has geared up to be an effective tool to harness the power and enthusiasm of youth who are at the forefront of this transformation and ASCI is committed to upgrade their skills by building necessary infrastructure, tools and the right capabilities.

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