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300 million people to be trained under National Skill Development Mission by 2022

In India, only 2.3% of the workforce has received formal training. If you compare this figure to other countries, you’ll be surprised and saddened in equal measure. In UK, 68% of the workforce has received training. This number is 96% in South Korea, 52% in USA and 80% in Japan. To bridge this gap, the National Skill Development Mission (NSDM) plans to train 300 million people by 2022. Almost 54% of India’s population are under the age of 25 and they need to be skilled in order to find gainful employment.

According to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, these courses will aim to make people future-ready by training them on subjects like AI, Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, 3D printing, Virtual Reality and Robotics. Other than that, the program also offers courses on media, electronics, construction, tourism and hospitality, agriculture and many more other fields.

What are skills and why do people need them?

A skill is the learned ability to execute a task or manage a problem within a given time frame. They could be divided into domain-general and domain-specific skills. Some examples of domain-general skills are time management, leadership or teamwork. Everyone needs these skills in order to succeed. On the contrary, domain-specific skills are exclusive to a person’s area of expertise. Operating complicated machinery, painting or video editing are some examples of domain-specific skills.

Skills are necessary in the professional world as everyone is looking to hire someone who can add value to their team. While it was difficult to acquire skills earlier, the advent of YouTube and online streaming has made things easier. In his book Don’t Chase The Dream Job, Build It, Evan Thomsen wrote, “From WWII to 9/11, if you wanted to learn a professional skill, you had three options: university, library, or a mentor/on-the-job training. Simply being introduced to something, like accounting basics, for example, would require a serious investment in time, money, or both. The range of information you had access to was restricted as well. You were limited largely to your geographic environment and knowing which text was best wasn’t clear. Today – are you kidding me? The 10 best accounting instructors in the world are on YouTube. You can learn this skill for free, at your own pace, while taking a bath.”

How can you improve your skills?

Achieving mastery at most things is a life-long pursuit as perfection is an enigma. That said, it doesn’t take long to learn how to make a collage or cook rice. A lot of people postpone their learning plans for lack of time. They think that acquiring a skill will take them years. That’s not true. In his TEDx talk, Josh Kaufman proposes that a skill can be learnt in as little as 20 hours. You may not become a master, but you’ll be able to do a decent job. 20 hours is just 45 minutes a day for a month.

Another problem that people face is that learning a new language or learning a new instrument is very difficult to do as an adult. A children’s brain is more receptive to new information and half the battle is lost if you miss that boat.

In his book The Principles of Psychology, Harvard psychologist William James wrote, “In most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set like plaster, and will never soften again.” There’s some truth to that statement considering our brain starts to work according to a set pattern as we age. This is what has given rise to the popular phrase – “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

That doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything new. A lot of people have moved countries and learnt new languages as an adult. People continuously need to adapt to new technologies and new things. Giving your brain a workout, subjecting it to challenges and learning new things is fundamental to having a successful and fulfilling life.

Take the example of Aleksandar Hemon. When he arrived in United States from Bosnia in 1992, he didn’t know English. In a few years, he became such an expert that he published novels and short stories in the language. Nothing is impossible with sustained effort.


So far, NSDM has been successful in giving a huge percentage of people jobs as per a 2019 report published in BusinessToday. Out of the 64.27 lakh people trained till then, 14.43 lakh people were placed. With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on most industries in 2020-21, a lot of organizations have frozen hiring. Even then, the government’s effort to impart skills shouldn’t suffer as there could be a boom just around the corner.


1. National Skill Development Mission: A Framework for Implementation (Government of India)

2. Our brains can get lazy by age 25 — but people can counteract it with a habit Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett all have (Business Insider)

3. The amazing fertility of the older mind (BBC)

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