NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Skill Development And Entrepreneurship’s efforts to streamline skill training for women have adversely affected thousands of women. The Union Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry and the Skill Development Ministry are at odds over a three-decade-old women employability Central scheme. The bone of contention is specific norms made mandatory by Rajiv Pratap Rudy-led skill development ministry. The norms, according to WCD ministry, are difficult for the small trainers to comply with.
After repeated communication between the two ministries failed to yield any result, WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi took up the matter with Rudy. He assured her that it will be looked into but the wait continues for an official communication, said sources in WCD ministry.
The trouble started after the Cabinet cleared a decision that all skill training being provided under Central funding should follow the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) norms. Besides educational qualification, norms also list infrastructure facilities like rooftop solar water heater, LED lighting, dormitory and basement space.
The WCD ministry has been administering Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) scheme since 1986-87 as a Central scheme. It aims to provide skills that give employability to women and enables them to become self-employed/entrepreneurs.
The WCD ministry provides an annual budget of `40 crore to nearly 1,500 registered NGOs at district/panchayat levels to train women in skills. “The problem is that none of the registered NGOs with the ministry meet the NSQF norms. NGOs giving training under STEP scheme operate from one or two-room offices/community centres in villages and there is no funding to provide infrastructure as per the NSQF,” said a top WCD ministry official.
The grant under the scheme is given to an institution/organisation, including NGOs directly, and not the states/Union Territories. The assistance is provided in sectors such as agriculture, horticulture, food processing, handlooms, tailoring, stitching, embroidery and zari work.
The ministry now wants an exemption for STEP scheme as it has been stalled completely for over a year and half and funds are lying unused. “All our units are shut which otherwise used to provide training to 9,000 women,” the officer added.