APEL.Q Case studiesIndia APEL.Q case study in training and the world of work

Modular Employable Skills (MES)


Vocational training offered at two levels: (1) through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) that fall outside the formal school curricular system, even though the training is institution-based. Around 5,000 ITIs offer 107 trades for students with 8–12 Class qualification. The duration of the training is 6–36 months. Graduates of ITIs are viewed as semi-skilled workers; (2) through shop floor training or apprenticeships offered in 24,700 establishments in 188 trades to students with 8–12 Class qualification and ITI certificate. The graduates of such training are perceived as skilled workers.

In order to provide marketable skills, Ministry of Labour and Employment developed a skills development initiative (SDI) called Modular Employable Skills (MES), which includes the assessment of prior learning. MES provides training and updates skills for school leavers, existing workers, child labourers, the unemployed and early school leavers from ITIs (DGE&T, 2008). Since 2014, MES has shifted to the Directorate General of Training (DGT) under the Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship.

Procedures and processes

MES is a competency-based training pathway providing a set of minimum skills needed for gainful employment.

A trade committee identifies the courses and competences meeting the demands of industry and labour market, and it develops a course matrix and curricula. The courses are delivered in a short time and flexible manner.

A so-called apex committee: (1) assesses the labour market demand; (2) invites applications from vocational training providers; (3) and is responsible for the accreditation of the institutes that provide MES training.

To ensure that the trainees’ skills are tested impartially, independent bodies, who are not involved in delivering training, conduct the testing (DGE&T, 2008).

MES involves 5,200 vocational training providers, 22 assessing bodies, 48 sectors, and 1,109 modules, which take anywhere from 60 to 600 hours to complete.

There are programmes of different kinds (foundational as well as programmes for skills up-gradation) to meet the demands of various target groups.

Courses are available for people with a minimum of Class 5 education.

In addition to testing and certification of skills acquired upon the completion of a training course, skills acquired informally are also recognised.

Outcomes and ways forward

At present the minimum skills standards of the MES has a component of RPL, wherein direct testing and assessment of skills can be done. However, as the Ministry of Finance, Government of India (2013, p. 14) acknowledges, “efforts for recognition of prior skills are limited. By introducing RPL though the NSQF, such efforts will gain momentum and allow learners to benefit on a larger scale. The National Skills Qualifications Committee (NSQC) will develop the process for Recognition of Prior Learning for a given job role against the relevant level descriptors and notify the same for skills training providers, vocational training providers as well as certificate awarding bodies for use in assessment and certification.” (p. 14).


Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGE&T). 2008. Skills Development Initiative Scheme (SDIS) (Based on Modular Employable Skills) Implementation Manual. New Delhi, DGE&T, MoLE.

International Labour Organisation (ILO). 2003. Industrial Training Institutes of India: The Efficiency Study Report. New Delhi ILO, Subregional Office for South Asia.

Ministry of Finance (2013). Department of Economic Affairs. Notification on the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF). Gazette of India. Extraordinary, Part 1, Section 2. New Delhi, Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs.

Singh, R. L. 2008. Corporate HRD and Skills Development for Employment: Scope and Strategies. (International Conference in Bali/Indonesia, 24–26 November 2008). Bonn, INWENT.


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