Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Introduction:

A large section of work force in India, especially in the informal sector, has not undergone any formal training to acquire skills. In such cases, skills have been acquired at work place, mostly through informal training, and have been developed based on the experience gained over a period of time. RPL is a formal process of recognizing previous experiential learning through a systematic assessment and certification process to award a formal qualification.

A huge section of India’s unorganized workforce are unskilled and semi-skilled. Most of them pick up skills and knowledge in an informal set up by observing people or working under their guidance or through complete self-learning. As a result, even though they manage to get a job and earn a decent wage or salary, they may not be able to improve their skills. This also affects their productivity and quality of output. They need access to training programs and support from their employers to skill and upskill themselves. This is where Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) can help them get assessed and certified on their current competencies as per NSQF levels. RPL also shows them a path to bridge their current knowledge and skill levels to reach a competency level or go for higher skills for professional growth.

Construction sector is the 3rd largest employer of workforce in the country and contributes about 8.1% of the total GDP. It is expected to get a huge fillip by the demands of urbanization in the near future with more than 50% of the population that would be living in urban areas by 2050. To meet this demand, it will be critical to develop a workforce that is adequately trained and qualified to meet the needs of modern day construction work. RPL in construction sector would help in developing competencies among the tradition workforce to meet the modern day requirements of the construction. RPL would also help in opening doors for upskilling and multi-skilling of work force and contribute towards improving sectorial productivity and efficiency

Benefits for the Workforce:

Through RPL assessment and certification, the candidates will be able to align existing competencies with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) for better opportunities in higher education. Besides creating an equitable system, RPL also helps them explore different options in skilling and upskilling to bridge the knowledge and skill gaps.

Benefits for the Industry:

By getting the workforce certified under RPL, the industry gets the dual advantage (1) formally recognized skill levels mapped with QPs and job roles and (2) open up different paths for workers to upskill and grow through short term training and bridge courses.

RPL assesses the prior knowledge and skills of individuals and certifies them mainly in the unregulated sector. The objectives of RPL are:

  • Align the competencies of the unregulated sectors of the country with the National Skills Qualification Framework
  • Enhance the chances of employment of individuals and provide them with more options for higher education.
  • Reduce the inequalities that are present due to the privileges given to some types of skills and knowledge over others.

Government Initiatives:

In the entire world India stands at the bottom of the list of countries with skilled people. While in South Korea 96% of the population is termed as ‘Skilled’, in India dismal 3% persons are called skilled. Other countries, such as China, Singapore, European countries score much more marks than India in the Skilled persons’ count.

It would be wrong to presume that in India skilled manpower does not exists. Actually, a size-able population in the country is skilled but has never been assessed and certified. The tally of skilled people, thus, shows a dismal 3% when we talk of statistics.

The formal skilling ecosystem in India was quite weak till now. The workers acquire skills either on the job or these skill-sets are transferred by the parents to their children. No formal trainings and assessments are done to formally train people and then certify them after a credible assessment process.

Govt of India has launched many big schemes viz. ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, Swachh Bharat’ etc. However, the foreign investor would be attracted in the country, if sufficient skilled manpower is available in the country. They would not recognize that the existing manpower possesses skills without a credible check of their skill sets.

40 Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) have been opened by NSDC in various sectors. The main function of these Sector Skill Councils is to develop National Occupational Standards (NOSs) and then get the skilling trainings conducted thru their affiliated Universities and Trainings Partners and finally assess and certify those students. As the trainings are provided on the State of Art infrastructure and curriculum, as per the exact expectations of the Industry, the students passing out of these institutions immediately get employment.

The RPL scheme is implemented by the Sector Skill Councils by conducting it in formal, as well as informal sectors. In formal sector the SSC identifies specific manufacturing or Service units and 2-3 days orientation programme is conducted at the factory premises itself, before or after the factory timings so that the factory work does not get affected. In the said Orientation programme the Trainer teaches the National standards related to the respective job roles to the employees. E.g. if it is the Sewing Machine Operators in that factory, they would be taught as to what are the National Standards related to the Job role of Sewing Machine Operator. This means that what should be skillsets in a Sewing machine operator as per the National Standards. Thereafter, the workers are mentally prepared to face an assessment process. The accredited Assessor of the SSCs conduct assessment of the workers and then certify them.

Private Sectors:

Even in Private Sectors Many companies and IT Giants have come up with RPL mode of skilling their workers so that they are able to cope up with advanced technologies. Many private bodies and autonomous councils have taken initiatives to conduct Skill based vocational courses and evaluating them on the basis of their skills and awards certificates.

Conclusion:

So, the RPL scheme doesn’t only brings smiles on the Worker’s faces, it is equally beneficial for the Entrepreneurs and as the scheme gets popular, more and more entrepreneurs are coming forward to get their units covered under the ambit of RPL scheme and a majority of the unskilled workforce will get the much needed skillsets so that Indian industry prospers well in the future.

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