Saksham Haryana-Skills & Employment: A walk down memory lane
Nikhil Nadiger
August 09, 2019

The department that nobody even knew existed till just a few years ago, is today showcasing its successes because of your vision and support”, Mr. T.C. Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary, Department of Employment, Government of Haryana, said addressing the Chief Minister, Manohar Lal. He was speaking at an event organized by the Government of Haryana to mark World Youth Skills Day (15th of July) and showcase the multiple pioneering initiatives undertaken by the state to make its Saksham Haryana programme a success.

Saksham Haryana, started in July 2017, is the state government’s flagship programme aimed at improving the quality of education, skilling opportunities and linking the youth of the state to employment opportunities. To supplement the Government of Haryana’s efforts in realizing this vision, two engagement teams were set up by Samagra with support from Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. Together these teams constitute the Saksham Haryana Cell. While all initiatives are driven by the government, their efforts are catalysed by the Saksham Haryana Cell. My colleague Harsh Garg has written about the 2-year journey of the Saksham Haryana Education engagement here.

Understanding the Skilling and Employment domain

 /><figcaption>The World Youth Skills Day organized in Rohtak on 15th July.</figcaption></figure><p>With almost no precedent for a state-wide, systemic transformation of the Skilling and Employment domain in the country, we worked with the government to develop a plan of action from scratch. We started by trying to design a strategy to link youth to employment opportunities. However, we soon realized that the problem should be approached differently. The scope of what we were trying to do was too broad. Given that the number of people looking for jobs would be much higher than the available jobs, creating linkages from people to jobs would be more complex than the other way around. Therefore, we changed our strategy and decided to focus on jobs which needed people. Cutting across the public and private sector, the Departments of Skilling and Employment and the Samagra team started a journey which required constant reinvention based on feedback and results.</p><p>Within a few months, Haryana catapulted itself to becoming a national leader in apprenticeship. How did this happen?</p><p>The Apprenticeship Act legislated in 1961 by the Union Government is largely underutilized (if not unutilized) by states. The Act mandates the appointment of apprentices in all establishments (government and private) with more than 40 employees. Haryana became the first state to put together a holistic strategy for its implementation, becoming the state with most number of apprentices appointed per lakh population. Till date, this position rests with Haryana. When the Saksham Haryana programme began in 2017, the number of apprentices per lakh population was 87, today it stands at over 260 and continues to rise. Over the last two years, public sector recruitment has also increased significantly with over 60,000 appointments. No state government in Haryana in the last two decades has been able to link as many people to public sector jobs. This is a noteworthy achievement not just because of the numbers involved but also because of the transparency in the process and emphasis on merit-based selection. For a state that had been riddled with corruption and “<em>sifarish</em>”-based recruitment, this was a paradigm shift. The period also saw the largest one-time recruitment of over 18,000 people to Group D government jobs. In November 2018, more than 17 lakh people applied for these jobs and criss-crossed across the state to write the recruitment exam. New trains had to be brought into service to facilitate this sudden increase in intra-state travel.</p><p>During the same time, there was an exponential increase in private sector job opportunities owing to an innovative collaboration between the Department of Employment and two cab aggregators–Ola and Uber. The basis for this win-win partnership was that the government wanted to bring more jobs to the state while the cab aggregators wanted to expand their markets. It was a perfect union. In a matter of a year, more than 55,000 people have been on-boarded by Ola and Uber as driver partners.</p><p>Starting in October 2018, the Skills Department became the focal point of transformation while the Employment Department continued its journey. As a consequence, our team split its time between the two. The focus of our efforts with respect to skilling was on transforming the 167 government-run Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) in the state, with around 66,000 students in an academic year. As in all our engagements, we started by diagnosing the problem in its entirety, visiting multiple districts, speaking to more than 80 ITI principals, trainers, students, officers etc., and analysing the available data.</p><p>At a personal level, ITI transformation has been one of the most dynamic and exciting interventions in the engagement. What started with reforms in procuring equipment, revamping assessments, filling up vacancies in trainers’ posts, has undergone a fundamental shift towards better outcomes (such as career advancement, industry linkage etc.) over the last one year. We started with ITI transformation in October 2018 and within six months, Haryana became the first state to standardize monthly formative assessments in ITIs, the first state to provide 10<sup>th</sup> and 12<sup>th</sup> grade equivalence to all its ITI students and the first state to award star ratings to each of its ITIs on outcome-based metrics. Even in this initiative, transparency has been a key factor. The results of monthly assessments and the ITI Star Ratings are available in the public domain on the Skill Development Department’s <a href=website.

The idea behind these initiatives is to provide a student seeking admission into an ITI with all relevant information to make an informed choice. Going forward we will be focusing on linking the skilling domain to industry demand. Learning from the experience of Scandinavian countries, Germany, Austria, as well as Haryana’s Shri Vishwakarma Skills University, we are working on transitioning towards a dual system of training in ITIs. This would entail a paradigm shift in not only how training is imparted but also how skilling is perceived. A dual system of training would mean that during the course of training, the student would spend 40-50% of his/her time in an industry working and applying what is taught in an ITI. For instance, someone in a 2-year hospitality course, would work in a restaurant chain for around 9 months in those 2 years. As a result, the industry and the ITI would be jointly responsible for providing quality training to the student.

On 15th July, watching officials from the Departments of Skills and Employment jointly commit to making Saksham Haryana an even bigger success, reaffirmed our commitment to the systemic transformation journey we have embarked upon. The fact that this was the first time both departments came together on a public platform was a testament to the shared vision of creating a Saksham Haryana. While a positive beginning has been made, the path ahead is neither simple nor straightforward. Nevertheless, there is excitement in the state to build on its past successes that is unmatched, unprecedented and unbound.