The government appears to have abandoned its goal of training 500 million people in new skills by 2022.
Speaking to the media in New Delhi on Tuesday, skill development ministry officials also refused to spell out a new number that the Union government and its 22 departments and ministries will chase, business daily Mint reported.
"We don't want to chase any number. Whether it is 150 million by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and 350 million by ministries—we are delinking it, not attaching any number," Mint said, quoting Director-General of Training and a joint secretary in the skills ministry Rajesh Aggarwal.
Skills Development Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy said that any training target would be more "demand driven than supply driven".
Rudy said the government is focusing on "improving the quality" of skill training in India. "It is a path that needs to be tread carefully as it involves the future of our youth," the Mint report quoted Rudy as saying.
Though the ministry did not give a reason for shifting focus and delinking numbers from the skills mission, over the years, skill training targets have been missed, Mint noted in its report.
Rudy said that the ministry is now keeping a close eye on private skill training providers working on a franchise model and strengthening the Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) to supply efficient workers to industries.
He affirmed said his ministry is not focusing on giving jobs but imparting training to make people employable. But he would not give numbers on how many of the 11.7 million trained in the past two years are holding jobs currently.
The 500 million number formed the premise on which the Union government set up different bodies such as NSDC, National Skill Development Agency, Skill Development Fund, and made a concerted move to make the skill development sector for-profit in India as against the not-for profit nature of the education sector.
Between 2011 and 2015, the Union government missed its skills training target in three out of four years, barring 2013-14.
In 2014-15, the first year of the National Democratic Alliance government, all the departments, including NSDC, trained around 7.5 million people against a target of 10.5 million, as per official data.
In the next two years — 2015-16 and 2016-17 — they trained 11.7 million people.
The government had claimed that as of March this year, it had trained about 2 million youth under the flagship Skill India programme. According to the Hindustan Times, data from the scheme's nodal body, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), showed just 34 institutes – 0.2 percent of the total – trained almost 40 percent candidates under the first phase of the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana( PMKVY).
Besides, NSDC was given a corpus to hand out soft loans to training providers to achieve certain training targets.
Mint had reported last month that some of NSDC's initial loans have turned non-performing assets.