#MGNREGA, Beneficiaries of the Centre’s flagship rural jobs programme, could soon be offered an opportunity to learn for free a skill that will make them employable at much higher remunerations.
The government believes reaching out to people who can benefit the most from learning a trade will boost its Skill India initiative along with making MGNREGA more effective. It has therefore decided to converge its recently unveiled Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana with MGNREGA or Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
“We have decided to identify and skill one lakh MGNREGA workers in the 18-35 age group each year and provide them with placement in skilled livelihoods. This will reduce dependence of poorer sections on government-provided wage employment alone,” a senior government official told ET.
All individuals who possess some formal education and have done at least 15 days of work in the preceding year under MGNREGA will be eligible for skilling under the programme. According to the official, who did not wish to be identified, cost of training and placement under MGNREGA will be met by pooling funds from the two merged programmes and National Rural Livelihood Mission.
The government has given time to states till March 15 to finalise area of training, formulation and approval of modules, and identification of trainees via MGNREGA database. It aims to start the first phase of the six-month training from April 1 and ensure that the trained individuals start getting placed from October.
“After implementing the programme for three years, it was found that there are households which can improve livelihoods by acquiring suitable skills, which in turn will help them increase wages by at least 50% and will provide horizontal and vertical mobility to the hitherto unskilled workers,” the official said.
Eligible MGNREGA beneficiaries will be identified and grouped as construction and agricultural labour cooperatives, so they can be trained in the respective areas. This will give them sustainable incomes and help redress labour shortage in agriculture besides enabling them to seek contract work in construction sector outside their villages.
Soon after the BJP-led NDA government took charge in May, the ministry of rural development embarked on a massive project for skilling rural youth through Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana besides strengthening the National Rural Livelihood Mission launched by the previous UPA government to improve skills of women workers through self-help groups.
Under the yojana, the government has reduced the minimum entry age for rural youths to 15 years from 18 years and plans to benchmark Indian skill programmes against international standards by roping in private players so skilled rural youths can get certificates recognised overseas and procure jobs abroad. (ET)