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Skill India and Opportunities for Rural Youth in India

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Functional Literacy in India: The Growth Factor of the Workforce
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Need for Skill India

A recent Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) report stated that  “the Indian economy has the potential to grow from the current $3 trillion to $9 trillion and $40 trillion by 2030 and 2047, respectively. But this is possible only if the working-age population is productively employed.”

Skill India Mission

This brings us to the relevant topic of how skilled are our youth. With a mission to empower the Indian youth, especially the youth of Rural India, Skill India was launched by several state governments. This is an initiative to train and upskill over 40 crore Indian youth, both men and women, in different industry-related jobs. 

The objective behind this is to create an empowered workforce with the help of various education schemes and training courses. The central ministry has allocated INR 1500 crore towards upskilling and reskilling programs and educational curriculum that will benefit the youth of rural India, who today make up 68% of India’s total population and are in need of better vocation and employment opportunities

National Skill Development Mission

Identifying  prevalent gaps in current education and the lack of opportunities thereof for the rural youth, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship launched the Skill Development Mission on July 15, 2015. This government initiative aims to create a connection between sectors and states to work together for skill training activities. Other than that, it will also focus on expediting decision making across sectors to achieve maximum skilling at scale with speed and quality standards.

To meet the demand of industry, Skill India is training the youth to deliver better possible output in the corporate world. They also provide on-the-job training to the students to give them practical exposure to the actual workplace. With every count of a second, a new individual is joining the Skill India mission, it is showing its impact in all the sectors of our society to take a step ahead towards development.

What is Skills Development?

Skills development is for determining skill gaps and overcoming them. Skill development also refers to acquiring additional capabilities through different and innovative levels of learning and training, which can either be in formal, non-formal, informal or in practical (on the job) formats. 

Rural Youth Development

According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), the unemployment rate among rural male and female youth stood at 17.4% and 13.6% respectively in 2020. These numbers indicate that regular jobs with additional benefits are hard to come by for rural youth. It is these issues that have given birth to the Skill India Mission Programme. The primary motive of this programme is to help the youth focus on their work and enhance their technical expertise. 

Once these youngsters are adequately educated, they will get their desired jobs. And that is possible only by skill development and training, which is the solution to this problem. The initiative undertaken by the Government will empower the rural men and women with knowledge, skills and capabilities that will allow them opportunities to better themselves and support their families. 

Why Skill Development Programmes and Schemes

Skill development training schemes focus on skill sets that are essential to make the youth more productive and employable in their workspace. Intending to target the 65% of youth and bridge the knowledge and skill gap, these trainings have been introduced. 

Skill development training allows an individual to learn, grow, and contribute to the economy of the country. Because a profitable economy means improvements in standards of living, better healthcare, and an overall optimistic approach to life. To achieve this, skill development plays a crucial role. 

Challenges Involved in Rural Skill Development 

Whilst the initiative is well-formulated, there are still many hurdles to achieving optimum results. One key issue is technology, which we have discovered during the recent pandemic, is a huge enabler, of lack of access  The rapid shift towards digitization and inability and lack of access to technology in rural India has made it difficult for the rural youth to avail of many of the initiatives designed for them  Being able to leverage technology to make these initiatives sustainable with long-term benefits and then taking that last mile, which is introducing skills training in rural education institutes is probably the biggest challenge to overcome. 

The Solution

Unarguably it is skill development. Only with a systematic and well laid methodology of  identifying the skills gap in youth and providing training to strengthen them will it translate into employment benefits to them. Skill development programs are based on understanding the existing levels of education and capabilities of the rural youth, and then extending support by assisting them proper guidance, infrastructure, opportunities, and encouragement that help them achieve their ambitions.

Types of Skill Development Programmes

Coordinated efforts are needed to develop an integrated approach that improves access to relevant, good quality education and training to all rural women and men. The most basic and key initiatives would be– 

  1. Agriculture-related training and development
  2. Computer and digital training program
  3. Microfinance for entrepreneurs  
  4. Frontline healthcare education schemes

Skills such as the above will go a long way to provide employability and improve livelihood opportunities, reduce poverty, enhance productivity, and promote environmentally sustainable development. All of which will help the country’s socioeconomic growth and progress. 

Rural India Skill Scheme 

Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDY-GKY) is designed especially to provide high quality skill training opportunities to the rural poor and also to establish a larger ecosystem that supports trained candidates to secure a better future. The target group for DDU-GKY is poor rural youth in the age group of 15-35 years. 

Another skill development training program is the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana. This is also a government initiative which ensures uniformity and distribution of skills training to all individuals in rural India. This scheme grants practical and vocational skills to the uneducated and educated unemployed youth of the country. 

The main focus is to help and support the people belonging to the economically weaker sections of the society. The scheme also offers certification programs, which help the rural youth in achieving industry-relevant skills, and thus securing a better life.

Concluding Thoughts

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”


This inspiring quotation is most fitting to skill development and training, which is the need of the hour for India’s rural youth. As the country grows from strength to strength, a lot depends on the capabilities of its workforce, and that is where skills acquired by rural India will be the same as urban India, and the country’s youth collectively will walk side by side with head held high.

Smile Foundation and Skill Development

Smile Foundation, recognizing the need of the hour has re-oriented its employability training initiative, STeP to fight the challenges posed by unemployment and skills training. Our campaign, Tayyari Kal Ki aims at training & up-skilling the youth between the age of 18-32 years and helping them secure livelihoods with top global brands.

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