Cabinet nod to merger of skill development bodies


New Delhi: The Union cabinet on Wednesday approved the merger of the National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) and the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) to “consolidate fragmented regulatory structures” and improve the outcome of the Skill India mission.

The merged entity would be called the National Council for Vocational Education and Training (NCVET), the government said after a cabinet meeting.

The overarching regulator will bring in accountability in a sector that caters to nearly 15 million students at any given time.

Skill development and entrepreneurship minister Dharmendra Pradhan termed the cabinet decision an “institutional reform” that will lend credibility to the sector and “encourage greater private investment”.

The NCVT was a regulator and assessment body of the long-term skill education space comprising more than 13,000 industrial training institution, while the NSDA was a policy formulating body of the skill development ministry helping it devise training and industry collaboration policy for the Skill India mission.

The NCVT had been in existence for more than four decades as part of the directorate general of training, while the NSDA was a relatively new body that came into force in 2013.

The NCVET will regulate the functioning of entities engaged in vocational education and training, both long-term and short-term, and establish minimum standards for the functioning of such entities. The primary functions of NCVET will include recognition and regulation, assessment, approval of qualifications developed by different bodies and industry governed sector skill councils, the skill development ministry said in separate note after the cabinet meeting.

Quality control has been a constant worry for the skill development sector in India with the mushrooming of skill schools across India. Though Skill India had been a talking point for the government over the last few years, there has hardly been any quality assessment or monitoring of the sector, essential to the supply of efficient manpower to industries .

The cabinet also approved the establishment and operationalization of two new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) at Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh) and Berhampur (Odisha) at a total cost of ₹3,074.12 crore.

The cabinet also approved payment of productivity linked bonus equivalent to 78 days’ wages for fiscal year 2017-18 for all eligible non-gazetted railway employees. The decision, which comes ahead of the festive season, is likely to benefit around 1.191 million railway employees and will cost the government ₹2,044.31 crore. Productivity linked bonus is paid to eligible railway employees every year before Dussehra.

The cabinet committee on economic affairs also approved a proposal for the closure of loss-making Biecco Lawrie Ltd and the National Jute Manufactures Corp. Ltd and its subsidiary Birds Jute & Exports Ltd.

Closure of these state-run firms will ensure release of valuable assets, including land, for productive use, or for generation of financial resources, the government said.