National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF)


  • In 2013, India’s skill agenda got a push when the government introduced the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF). This organises all qualifications according to a series of levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude, just like classes in general academic education.
  • For each trade/occupation or professional qualification, course content should be prepared that corresponds to higher and higher level of professional knowledge and practical experience.

India Skills 2018:

  • NSQF implementation through the prism of national skill competitions, or India Skills, a commendable initiative of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE).
  • Twenty-seven States participated in India Skills 2018, held in Delhi. Maharashtra led the medals tally, followed by Odisha and Delhi. Now, teams will be selected to represent India at the 45th World Skills Competition, scheduled in Russia this year.
  • It was also heartening that the Abilympics was included in India Skills 2018, for Persons with Disabilities.

Five pillarsof skill training in India:

  • The secondary schools/polytechnics.
  • Industrial training institutes.
  • NSDC funded private training providers offering short-term training.
  • 16 Ministries providing mostly short-term training.
  • Employers offering enterprise-based training.

A majority of the participants in India Skills, 2018 were from corporates (offering enterprise-based training) and industrial training institutes. Neither industrial training institutes nor corporates’ courses are aligned with the NSQF. Less than 20% participants were from the short-term courses of the NSDC which are NSQF compliant. If India Skills 2018 was only open for the NSQF-aligned institutions, it would have been a big failure.

Problems facing NSQF:

  • Unlike general academic education, where certain level of certification is required before further progression is permitted, there is no clear definition of the course curriculum within the NSQF that enables upward mobility.
  • There is no connection of the tertiary level vocational courses to prior real knowledge of theory or practical experience in a vocational field.
  • Efforts to introduce new Bachelor of Vocation and Bachelor of Skills courses were made, but the alignment of these courses was not completed.
  • Lack of alignment between the HRD Ministry (responsible for the school level and Bachelor of Vocation courses) and the Ministry of Skill Development (responsible for non-school/non-university-related vocational courses).
  • There are too many Sector Skill Councils in India and each is not comprehensive, like we have four SSCs for manufacturing but they are treated as one in World Skills courses.

The following can be done to improve skill framework in India:

  • There is a need for more holistic training and to re-examine the narrow, short-term NSQF-based NSDC courses.
  • NSDC should include skills in broader occupation groups, so that trainees are skilled enough to compete at the international level.
  • SSCs should be consolidated in line with the National Industrial Classification of India to improve quality, outcomes, and help in directly assessing the trainee’s competence. It might also bring some coherence to our skills data collection system.
  • Vocational education must provide broader skills in broader occupational groups.
  • A re-alignment in skill programme would prepare India for representation at the 45th World Skills Competition, scheduled in Russia this year.


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