National Skill Development Agency
Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship
Government of India

NSQF - Story Beyond Levels



The interaction with faculty and students in a training centre during one of the State engagement programmes reflected on aspects of how National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) is translated on ground. NSQF, a competency based framework, was notified vide gazette notification dated 26th December 2013 with the objective of providing progression pathways for those pursuing the vocational education stream. It organizes Qualifications according to a series of levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude wherein levels are defined in terms of learning outcomes of vocational education which the learner must possess regardless of whether they are acquired through formal or informal learning.


The NSQF is expected to ensure mobility between vocational and general education; facilitate recognition of prior learning to enable movement between informal and formal jobs and enabling individual to move into formal ecosystem of skilling/education; uniformity across country in nationally acceptable outcomes of training; mobility of workers across country and globally to meet the manpower requirement in deficient geographies etc. The National Skill Development Agency (NSDA) has been mandated to operationalise the NSQF. The NSDA serves as the secretariat for National Skill Qualification Committee (NSQC), the final apex Body where the Qualifications are approved for NSQF alignment. The process flow of NSQF alignment involves submission of Qualification by submitting body be it Ministry, State Govt, SSC to NSDA which after desk audit and stakeholders consultation brings the same for approval to NSQC. The alignment involves giving levels to the Qualification ranging from level 1 to level 10 with level 1 being the most simple and level 10 being the most complex . As per the gazette notification the NSQF provides a five-year implementation schedule wherein after the third anniversary (27.12.2016) date of the notification of the NSQF no government funding would be available for any training and after 5th year it is mandatory for all training/educational programmes/courses to be NSQF-compliant. Since its notification 2876 Qualifications across sectors have been aligned. However, the understanding of implementation and operationlisation of NSQF is still evolving. While interacting with the training centres, we witnessed that NSQF alignment is not just about assigning levels but its implementation travels through gamut of stakeholders at different stages and their awareness and connect with the framework is vital for its success. These stakeholders include people like those developing curriculum, content, trainers, trainees and industries. To complete the story of NSQF implementation, the real meaning needs to be reflected in the work area of all the stakeholders involved.

At times, the perception of the framework is also taken at the superficial level while the core essence of it is missed in the process. Level 1 to level 10 should be so defined that a trainer and trainee are clearly aware of the final outcomes that course design aims to achieve. This requires more awareness and advocacy at the level of design and implementation. The implementation also necessitates seeing that course curriculum, training delivery and trainers are also aligned to the requirements of NSQF.

The smooth implementation of NSQF requires well supported Quality delivery systems right from the development of Qualifications ,to training delivery and assessment. The reference on how to measure the effectiveness of these delivery mechanisms is very well laid down in the National Quality Assurance Framework (NQAF) developed by NSDA. The NQAF provides the benchmarks or quality criteria which the different organisations involved in education and training must meet in order to be accredited to provide education and training/skills activities. It defines the common minimum Quality norms that can be measured to evaluate the efficacy of various stakeholders like Training Providers, Assessment Bodies, Auditing Bodies across the system. NQAF is a thread that binds all the process and stakeholders involved in skill development.

One of the things that has always been talked about in any of the systems, is a sense of ownership / vision/ belongingness in the process. Ownership comes when the system facilitates a process where a stakeholder be it training provider, auditing Body or others is given an opportunity to reflect and create its own set of milestone and areas for Quality improvement. So far, in the existing set of accreditation processes somehow this sense of introspection and improvement has been lacking across the systems. To address this gap, NQAF provides a provision of Quality Improvement Plan that can help organisation to evaluate its existing systems and determine the areas that need improvement .This can help an organisation to develop its own organisation improvement plan that can serve as a yard stick while undertaking evaluation on the progress made.

To take forward the story of NSQF beyond levels, quality assurance system that defines the role of each stakeholder involved in skill development needs to be established and strengthen. This will broaden the scope of NSQF beyond assigning levels and as a key instrument for facilitating Skilling with Quality.

Blog Disclaimer:-    Any views or opinions represented in this blog are of the author and do not represent/reflect views of the organization.