India may soon have a separate regulatory agency on ‘vocational training’, providing much-needed fillip to the country’s skilling efforts.

This new regulator, which is likely to soon get the approval of highest level of government, will look to bring “quality enforcement” of various skilling initiatives through the mechanism of regulating the awarding body, official sources said.

However, the new regulator will not look to regulate the training provider, they said. Indications are that two existing semi-regulatory bodies are likely to be merged to create the new regulatory body.

Currently, nearly 95 percent of all skilling-related spends of India are from public funds. In the recent years, India has moved to a system where public funds are being used by profit-oriented private sector entities to impart skills to mainly those in vulnerable sections of society. This had raised the need for “quality enforcement” as any form of enforcement was being done only out of New Delhi.

To begin with, it will almost be on the lines of the birth of regulators such as SEBI and PFRDA, which in the initial years worked without statutory backing but only on the basis of Cabinet resolutions.

Critics have now begun questioning the efficacy of India’s skilling efforts and started linking them to employment outcomes, which has been sub-optimal. However, on their part government officials contend that employment, although an important measure, is not the only measure for success of a skilling programme. Employment is determined by multiple things like economic climate, rate of economic growth etc. Not only skilling,” official sources said.

Skilling is a very complex subject in India, especially with 21 ministries in India involved in some form of skilling efforts.