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Here’s how RPL making change in rural India

RPL programme, under PMKVY, has certified more than 10.47 lakh people, covering around 620 districts across India, ranging from maize cultivators in Bihar, carving artisans in Rajasthan, rural masons in Uttar Pradesh, amongst others

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In three years, Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme, under PMKVY, has certified more than 10.47 lakh people, covering around 620 districts across India, ranging from maize cultivators in Bihar, carving artisans in Rajasthan, rural masons in Uttar Pradesh, amongst others. Ankit Joshi writes...

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an initiative by Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Government of India,  under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), implemented by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) launched PMKVY in the year 2015. Individuals with prior learning experience or skills shall be assessed and certified under the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) component of the scheme. RPL, majorly, not mandatorily, focuses on the individuals engaged in unorganised sectors.

The objectives of RPL are primarily three-fold:

  1. to align the competencies of the pre-existing workforce of the country to the standardised National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF),
  2. to enhance the employability and/or entrepreneurial opportunities of an individual and
  3. to provide opportunities for reducing inequalities based on privileging certain forms of knowledge over others.

RPL shall be undertaken by Project Implementing Agencies (PIA) through any of the three project types: RPL Camps, RPL at Employer's Premises and RPL centres. The project types differ according to target beneficiaries. PIAs shall include Sector Skill Councils (SSCs), Training Providers (TPs), Corporates, Industry Associations, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), Government Entities or any other agency designated by NSDC/MSDE. Assessment Agencies (AAs) are not permitted to be PIAs under RPL. To address knowledge gaps, PIAs may offer Bridge Courses to RPL candidates.

RPL Process
RPL is being given priority as well as importance under PMKVY since it addresses many issues in the skill development of unorganised workforce. Through RPL assessments and certifications, candidates are able to align their competencies that were acquired through an informal way of education with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF). It supports an equitable system, where workers from the informal sector, who did not have a chance to undergo formal training, but have acquired the skills on their own, can appear for RPL assessments thus helping them explore different options in training to bridge the knowledge and skill gaps or upskill themselves.

The RPL process comprises of five steps, as specified below:
Step 1 - Mobilisation of candidates
Step 2 - Counselling and pre-screening of candidates
Step 3 - Orientation to candidates
Step 4 - Final assessment of candidates
Step 5 - Certificate, mark-sheet and payout to successful candidates

Key features of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) under PMKVY
RPL is a platform to provide recognition to the informal learning or learning through work to get equal acceptance as the formal levels of education. It aims to acknowledge and appreciate prior learning irrespective of the medium of achieving it.

In short, RPL is a process of assessment of an individual’s prior learning to give due importance to learning as an outcome rather than learning as process. Under the RPL programme, the candidates undergo a 12-hour orientation programme focusing on soft skills, entrepreneurship, as well as digital and financial literacy. PIAs may also propose a Bridge Course (max. 68 hrs of duration) to be imparted to candidates for Project types 2 and 3 only.

Besides a skill certificate, a reward amount of Rs. 500/- is deposited to the candidate’s account, directly, on successful completion of assessments, where a candidate’s overall score must be 30 percent and above.

All RPL certified candidates shall receive an accidental insurance of three years from New India Assurance Company. A unique policy number of the Accidental Insurance is mentioned on the certificate that is awarded to respective certified candidates.

It also provides an opportunity to candidates to avail loan benefits via Government schemes, such as the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana.

In around three years of its execution, the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme, under PMKVY, has certified more than 10.47 lakh people, in 434 job roles, covering around 620 districts across India, ranging from maize cultivators in Bihar, carving artisans in Rajasthan, rural masons in Uttar Pradesh and tyre fitters in Odisha, amongst others.

The PMKVY (2016-20) scheme targets skill development of one crore people, wherein RPL constitutes 40 percent candidates, whose prior experience and skills will be assessed and certified.

IL&FS Skills has successfully carried out RPL programmes in multiple sectors including Agriculture, Apparel, Beauty & Wellness, Construction, Handicrafts & Carpet, Leather, Retail and Tourism & Hospitality. Apart from these sectors, employees from Raj Bhawan, CRPF Academy and Jawans of the Assam Rifles have been trained under this programme. Some of the key RPL progammes have been:

  • Implemented by IL&FS Skills 7,817 farmers of the Saran district of Bihar were certified across job roles such as tuber crop cultivator, maize cultivator and dairy farmer / entrepreneur.
  • The 5,000 beneficiaries were targeted to be RPL certified in multiple job roles of Tourism and Hospitality sector along Char Dham route of Uttarakhand. 3,000+ beneficiaries were enrolled, wherein more than 1,300 have received RPL certifications.
  • Over 73,000 beneficiaries have been certified in Apparel sector across 20 states Pan India. Different workers across value chain have received RPL certification which includes fabric cutter, finisher, inline checker, press man, sewing machine operator, etc..
  • IRCTC aims to enhance customer experience in trains by upskilling the Licensee Staff of IRCTC through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) under PMKVY. The programme is covering 900 candidates across job roles such as assistant catering manager, multi-cuisine cook, kitchen helper and F&B service steward.
  • 122 employees of Raj Bhavan in Bihar and Himachal Pradesh underwent training and certification in jobs such as gardener, documentation assistant, unarmed security guard, F&B service – steward, housekeeping attendant (manual cleaning) and multi-cuisine cook.
  • In an ongoing RPL programme, over 1,000 Jawans of Assam Rifles in Meghalaya are being oriented and certified in job roles such as armed security guard, housekeeping supervisor, security officer, personal security officer and security supervisor.
  • In a another RPL programme, 5,000 carving artisans (stonecraft), across Rajasthan, were trained in stone carving.
  • To accelerate the efforts of achieving universal sanitation coverage, and to put focus on safe sanitation, the Prime Minister of India launched the Swachh Bharat Mission. Under the guidance and supervision of CSDCI, IL&FS Skills has trained 199 rural masons through bridge training (20+12 Hours) & RPL, with special emphasis on rural sanitation technology.

(Views expressed and information provided in the article are author’s own.)

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