Dialogue  April-June 2007 , Volume 8 No. 4

Situating Skill Training Facilities in North East Indiatc

Biswajeet Saikia

The North East India (presently Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland Sikkim and Tripura) have a less number of technical institutes for providing industrial as well as agricultural training facilities. Presently entire north eastern region have only 51 ITIs and there are only 4 ITC (private institute). Among them only 4 ITIs are specially for women. During 10th five Year Plan, Government of India initiated to modernize 50 ITIs. A special package was focused for the region to modernize some ITIs as centre of excellence.

The Directorate General Employment & Training (DGE&T) under Ministry of Labour & Employment is implementing Centrally Sponsored Scheme “Establishment of new Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the North-Eastern States and Sikkim”. The main objective of the scheme is to meet both qualitative and quantitative skilled and semi-skilled manpower requirement for industry, service sector, self-employment etc. by way of creating and developing infrastructure for training of youth in identified skill areas. The scheme envisages establishment of 22 New ITIs (with a total outlay of Rs.49.88 crore) and strengthening / modernization of 35 existing ITIs at a cost of Rs.100.00 Crore. On completion of implementation, the seating capacity in ITIs of North-Eastern States and Sikkim will increase from the existing 7692 to 16144.

The north eastern region is near urgently needed skill development training facilities within the region. The region population is nearly 40 million and there are almost 68.63% of literacy (in Mizoram it is 88.49% and for Arunachal Pradesh, it is 54.74%).1 The unemployment rate is substantially high in the region. Being 4th highest number of urban unemployment (26%), the state of Assam has little skilled manpower. Majority of the educated unemployed have general education. According to 60th round of NSSO report, the north eastern region has total 6, 84,385 people literate in primary and below in 15-19 years age. Combining with middle level for 15-19 years, it is 1,203,114 people. For the 20-24 age group, the region have 809,278 who have either primary degree or below primary. If it is combined with the middle level educated persons, then exact number of persons at 20-24 age groups in the region is 1,218,057.

Table1. Literacy rate of North eastern states and percentage change in literacy (states are arranged according to the female literacy level)

STATE           Literacy    Literacy    % change       Male        Female   %share

                      rate (%)    rate (%)    in literacy       literacy    literacy   of female

                      1991         2001         level                (%)         (%)         in total

                                                         (1991-2001)                                  literacy


Pradesh         41.59        54.74        50.34              64.07       44.24      38.01

Assam           52.89        64.28        54.80              69.75       50.65      39.62

Manipur        59.89        68.87        14.99              77.87       59.70      42.93

Meghalaya    49.10        63.31        28.94              66.14       60.41      47.09

Mizoram       82.27        88.49        7.56                90.69       86.13      46.95

Nagaland       61.65        67.11        8.86                71.77       61.92      43.67

Tripura          60.44        73.66        21.87              81.47       65.41      43.19

All India        52.21        65.38                               75.85       54.16     

Sourc : Basic Statistics of North Eastern Region, 2000, North Eastern Council, Government of India. N P.126; Registered General of India, Census of India, 1991, Government of India, New Delhi, 2001 CD version

In the field of higher education, considerable progress has been achieved since independence in north east India. At present there are eleven universities in this region including two agricultural universities and three central universities. The total enrolment in higher education courses increased from 61,580 in 1978-79 to 1, 57,708 in 1990-91 this signified an increase of 61 percent over a period of 12 years.2

With higher literacy level, lack of industrial, manufacturing as well as service sector, the region is facing high rate of unemployment. According to survey on the unemployed in Assam, 2005; employed per thousand male in the rural areas are only 685 while unemployed is 114 persons. In the urban areas the total persons in the age group of 15-59, total 435 persons are employed, while 117 people per thousand are unemployed. In the state, the total person (both rural and Urban) employed are 513 persons while 105 person per thousand are unemployed.

Table 2. Per thousand distribution of population according to their employment status in the active age group

Employment status (15-59)

                    Rural                           Urban                          Total

                    Male Female Person   Male Female  Person  Male Female  Person

Employed     685     327       527      621      180       435     675     306       513


loyed             114      90        103      124      106       117     116      92        105


force             799     417       630      745      286       552     791     398       618

Out of

labour force   201     583       370      255      714       448     209     602       382

Source:  Jayanta Madhab, 2005. Survey on the unemployment in Assam, Government of Assam, Dispur.

Some of the north eastern states are ahead of the national average in respect to literacy. Mizoram’s effective literacy rate is as high as 88.49 %, Tripura with 73.7 % is second, Manipur with a 68.87 per cent effective literacy rate occupies third position, Nagaland and Assam has a literacy rate 67.11 percent and 64.2 per cent respectively. However, the performance of Meghalaya (63.0) and Arunachal Pradesh (54.7 per cent) are below the national average 65.02 per cent. The literacy rate has increased by 5 percent for Nagaland and 14 percent for Meghalaya in the 2001 census. The gender disparity in literacy rate is most glaring in Manipur (male 77.87 per cent and female 59.7 percent) and Tripura (male 81.5 per cent and female 65.4 per cent). But in Mizoram its disparity is less (male 90.7 and female 86.13). Rural urban disparity is also very wide in north east India. In Arunachal Pradesh urban literacy rate is 71.59 per cent while rural literacy rate is as low as 37.02 per cent (1991). In Meghalaya, these rates are 81.74 per cent and 41.05 per cent) respectively. Except Mizoram, (urban 93.45 and rural 72.47) the rural urban disparity is pronounced. In Nagaland Mon and Tuensang; Tripura, south Tripura and in Manipur Senapati, Chandel and Tamelang districts are more backward compared to other districts of the state in literacy. The backward districts in literacy in Meghalaya are the Jaintia and West Garo; in Arunachal Pradesh Tawang, East Kameng, Upper Kameng, upper Subansiri and Tirap; while in Assam Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Goalpara, Darrang, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur, Marigaon and Karbi Anglong are more backward literacy rate. 3

It is found that out of the total population in the active age group 15-59 years around 62 per cent constitutes the labour force. Incidentally it is higher in the rural areas due to higher participation rate of both male and female workforce. The rate of unemployment (15-59 age groups) is 17 per cent for the state of Assam.

The rate of unemployment is around 21 per cent for the age group of 15-40 years in the state. The rate of unemployment is much higher among the females (26%) then the male (19%) but the urban female unemployment rate is 43 %. The rate of unemployment is much higher in urban areas (around 28%) in comparison to rural areas (20%). In the state 15 per cent population in the age group of 6 and above are illiterate and remaining 85 % assumed to be literate. For female it is 88%, in the urban areas it is 89%. While in the 15-40 age group 88 per cent are literate. The survey estimates that about 8 per cent of the total population within the age group of 15-40 posses technical degrees and diplomas. Among the employed, only 9 per cent have technical qualification.

Table 3. Per thousand distribution of skilled and unskilled persons

                    Rural                           Urban                         Total

                    Male Female Person  Male Female Person Male Female Person

Skilled          125      62         97       118       78        101     124      64         98

Unskilled      875     938       903      882      922       899     876     936       902

Source:  Jayanta Madhab, 2005. Survey on the unemployment in Assam, Government of Assam, Dispur.

It is found that 10 per cent of the usually employed are skilled workers in the state. Male employed are found to be more skilled than female. The survey concluded that due to sufficient skilled workers in the labour force in the state, the income level of the population is low.

The analysis of the skilled workers into their respective employment status shows that not more than 15 per cent of the employed persons are skilled in the state, highest being aro9und 15 per cent for causal labour in public works and lowest being around 12 per cent for self employed. In the urban areas of the state 23 per cent of the skilled workers engaged as casual labour in other types of works and a low of 10 per cent of the skilled workers engaged as regularized salaried. While around 14 per cent of the labour force e is skilled, less than 5 per cent of skilled labour are not in the labour force altogether.

Table 4. Per thousand distribution of skilled person according to employment status

                    Rural                           Urban                         Total

                    Male Female Person  Male Female Person Male Female Person


salaried         159     139       155       94       135       102     146     139       145


employed     135      72        112      122      231       137     133      82        116


workers in


works           155     140       151      107      200       119     145     147       146


workers in

other types

of work         133     138       135      215      286       232     139     148       141


loyed            142      86        121      178       99        147     148      88        125

Not in

labour force   69       31         43        74        44         55       70       33         45

Total             125      62         97       118       78        101     124      64         98

Source:  Jayanta Madhab, 2005. Survey on the unemployment in Assam, Government of Assam, Dispur.

Therefore, going through the conclusion of the survey report, there is an urgent requirement of the skilled training facilities in the states. Although the other north eastern states do not have a huge population, the unemployment rates are almost nearly 10 per cent.

Table 5: Per thousand distribution of population according to their employment status in the active age group in north eastern states (combined excluding Assam)

                                 Rural                                       Urban

                                   Male    Female   Person         Male     Female      Person

Unemployed                 7           4             6                22            9              16

Labour force               502       230         371             491         153           322

Not in labour force     491       766         624             486         838           662

Source:  NSSO, December 2003. NSS 58th round, Household Consumer Expenditure and Employment -Unemployment Situation in India, Government of India

The 58th round of the NSSO reports says that half of the population in the region is not in the labour force. In the urban areas the percentage is substantially higher. Many reports argue that this is due to lack of the industry, manufacturing units and the other service sector as well as lack of appropriate technical degree among the population. So majority of the population is not engaged in any activity.

Training facilities available in the region

The entire north eastern region has fewer institutions for providing skill training facilities. For a population of 1.2 million middle class and below graduates, the seating capacity in the region is very less. The following table shows the state wise distribution of the ITIs.

Table 6: showing number of ITIS/ITCS with seating capacity in north east India

                         No. of     Seating     No. of     Seating      Total    Seating

                         Govt.      capacity   Pvt.         capacity    ITIs/     capacity

                         ITIs                            ITIs                             ITIs


Pradesh            2              368             0              0                  2           368

Assam              28            4536           3              84                27         4620

Manipur           7              540             0              0                  7           540

Meghalaya       5              622             2              304              7           926

Mizoram          1              294             0              0                  1           294

Nagaland          3              404             0              0                  3           404

Sikkim              1              140             0              0                  1           140

Tripura            4              400             0              0                  4           400

Total NER       51            7304           5              388              52         7692

These ITIs are not able to provide appropriate training facilities due to various factors. Among the other factors, there are lacks of awareness regarding the availability of the industrial training facilities those who have either drop out at school or non availability of appropriate finance to do continue for a long time investment to learn industrial training. The region even doesn’t have average 1 ITIs per district.4 During the recent initiatives, government of India initiates to sponsor few ITIs in the region to upgrade in to centre of excellence.

Table 7: State-wise releases of funds under centrally sponsored scheme for establishment of ITIs in north-east states and Sikkim

                                          2001-02                 2002-03                   2003-04

Arunachal Pradesh            150.84                    114.75                     276.97

Assam                               170.97                    360.5                       1116.23

Manipur                                                          132.8                       245.63

Meghalaya                        3.43                        52.12                       74.67

Mizoram                           26.39                      135.18                     287.35

Nagaland                           188.65                    152.15                     779.21

Tripura                             1.96                        184.39                     380.27

Sikkim                                                             17.46                       28.70

Total NER                       542.24                    1,149.35                  3189.03

The Proposed Centre of Excellence is targeted mainly those trade which have more market acceptability. These were introduced in consultation with the industry particularly Federation of North Eastern Chambers of Commerce (FINER). These institutes are

Table 8: Proposed centre of excellence and marketable trade

Sl.       Name of ITI                Year of               No. of          Proposed sectors

No                                     Establishment   existing trade

1                  2                              3                       4                          5

1       I.T.I. Guwahati              1957             20 Trades        Automobile Sector

2       I.T.I. Srikona                  1957             19 Trades        Fabrication Sector

3       I.T.I. Jorhat                    1956             19 Trades        Production & Manufacturing Sector

4       I.T.I. Kokrajahar            1986             6 Trades          Electrical Sector

5       I.T.I. Haflong                 1986             7 Trades          Food Preservation Sector

6       I.T.I. Nagaon                  1954             12 Trades        Electronics Sector

7       I.T.I. Tezpur                  1960             10 Trades        Automobile Sector

8       I.T.I. Dibrugarh              2001             5 Trades          Ref. & A/C Sector

There is one Regional Vocational training institute (RVTI) has been set up at Tura in Meghalaya, to impart vocational training to women of North Eastern Region. The Institute offers various skill training programmes at basic and advanced levels.

The central board for workers education in the North-Eastern Region is covered by its three Regional Directorates situated at Guwahati, Tinsukhia and Imphal. In the year 2004-05, 16182 workers were covered in organized, unorganized and rural sectors. Besides, regular training programmes, some special programmes on topics such as HIV / AIDS, Human Rights, National Integrity and Communal Harmony, etc. were conducted for developing awareness among different categories of workers \ including tea garden workers. The Government of India approved a new Zonal Directorate for North-Eastern Region at Guwahati which has started functioning from 31 January 2005. During the year 2004-05, the Board spent an amount of Rs.90.53 lakh for conducting the programmes and strengthening the Officers of CBWE in North-Eastern Region.

Self Enterprise

There is less number of self enterprises in the north eastern region. In Arunachal Pradesh it is just 0.01 per cent. Among them 87.5 % is owned by male in the urban areas. In the rural areas it is 83.5 %. Among the north eastern states, only in Meghalaya where 36.9 per cent enterprises are owned by female in the rural areas while in the urban areas it is 30 per cent.

Table 9. Percentage distribution of enterprises by State/UT separately for each enterprise type and sector                    Percentage of Enterprises.

                        Rural                          Urban                       Rural+Urban

                        OAE    Estab.  All      OAE    Estab.  All     OAE    Estab.  All


Pradesh            0.01     0.03     0.01    0.01     0.02     0.01   0.01     0.03     0.01

Assam             3.69     4.49     3.79    1.07     1.21     1.1     2.71     2.66     2.7

Manipur          0.18     0.19     0.18    0.17     0.1       0.15   0.18     0.14     0.17

Meghalaya       0.21     0.45     0.24    0.07     0.31     0.12   0.16     0.37     0.19

Mizoram         0.02     0.05     0.02    0.04     0.12     0.06   0.02     0.09     0.04

Nagaland          0.1       0.21     0.11    0.05     0.1       0.06   0.08     0.15     0.09

Sikkim             0.04     0.21     0.07    0.01     0.07     0.02   0.03     0.13     0.05

Tripura            0.33     0.37     0.33    0.29     0.21     0.27   0. 31    0.28     0.31

Among the north eastern state only in Assam, 3.79 per cent enterprises in the rural areas and the 1.1 per cent have either OAE or establishment. It shows that the rural areas have higher amount of self enterprises compare to the urban areas. Regarding the ownership, the state of Tripura has dominantly male owned enterprises in both rural and the urban areas.

Table 10: Percentage distribution of enterprises by type of ownership separately for rural and urban sectors in NER Percentage of Enterprises

                 Rural                                               Urban

                                        Same Different                                Same   Different

                  Male   Female  house house    others   Male Female  house   house        others

                                        hold   hold                                    hold     hold            


Pradesh        83.5     13.8      0.6     1.2        0.9     87.5    9.2      0.2      0.3           2.8

Assam         92.9      5.9        0      0.7        0.5     91.7    5.7      0.6        1              1

Manipur       85.4     11.2      0.8     1.7        0.9     76.4   18.6      2.7      1.2           1.1

Meghalaya    45.4     36.6     17.8      0          0.2     67.2     30       0.3      0.3           2.2

Mizoram      82.6     17.3      0.1      0           0      69.2   29.3       0        0.3           1.2

Nagaland      82.2     16.6       0        0          1.2      86     12.3      0.2      0.4           1.1

Sikkim        85.8     12.7       0        0          1.5     83.3   12.6      1.8      1.3             1

Tripura        96.1      2.5      0.1     0.1        1.2     91.4    7.2      0.2      0.3           0.9

Thus it shows that the region has very less amount of self enterprises and except Meghalaya all enterprises are mainly owned by male in both rural and the urban areas.


A part of the unemployment problem emanates from the mismatch between the skill requirements of employment opportunities and the skill base of the job-seekers. Rapid expansion of education, particularly of higher education, has also contributed to the mismatch in the labour market in the region. While shortages of middle level technical and supervisory skills are often experienced, graduates and post-graduates in arts, commerce and science constitute a large proportion of job-seekers in the state of Assam. High private rates of return on higher education, to a large extent resulting from low private cost, is an important reason for the rush for higher education despite high incidence of educated unemployment.

The mismatch is likely to become more acute in the process of rapid structural changes in the economy. Majority of the educated unemployed are drastically looking for a job in the service sector or in the government level. Shifting from agriculture to the service and the industrial sector, resulted higher amount of unemployment who don’t have appropriate skill training.

It is, therefore, necessary to reorient the educational and training systems towards improving its capability to supply the requisite skills in the medium and long term, and introduce greater flexibility in the training system so as to enable it to quickly respond to labour market changes in the short run.

The system should also be in a position to impart suitable training to the large mass of workers engaged as self-employed and wage earners in the unorganised sector for upgradation of their skills, as an effective means for raising their productivity and income levels.

The existing training institutions in the region have no doubt, been meeting a significant part of the requirements of the skilled manpower of hardly exists organised industry. It, however, seems necessary that the processes of restructuring and reorientation of their courses are made more expeditious with a view to quickly respond to the under developed labour market.

As the responsibility for imparting training devolves on a number of agencies - in central and state governments, NGOs and private bodies there is need for clearly identifying and strengthening coordination at various levels. A greater involvement of industry in planning and running the training system would also be necessary for this purpose.


     1.   In 1951, in terms of literacy ratio in NER was nearly at par with the all India level.

     2.   Two hill districts namely Mizo and United Khasi and Jaintia hills were ahead of the other parts of the country in terms of literacy. In the 1991 census, the female literacy rate in the north eastern states was higher than the all India literacy rate of 39.42 % except Arunachal Pradesh. The male literacy rate of NER was 65.14 % (Arunachal Pradesh 51.1 %; Assam 62.34 %; Manipur 72.98 %; Meghalaya 51.57 %; Mizoram 84.06 %; Nagaland 66.09 %; Tripura 70.08 %). The literacy rate (7 year and above) of NER (about 67%) is marginally higher than the national average (65.38) recorded in 2001 census.

           The literacy rate is inversely proportional to the population growth of a nation constraint to migration/immigration factor. In the context to India this is very true that growth rate of human population has decreased significantly in states with higher literacy. In NER too, states with higher literacy have exhibited lower population growth rate, with exceptions such as those exposed to extensive international boundary.

     3.   Ganguly, J.B., Sustainable human development in the north eastern region of India, Regency Publication, New Delhi.1996.p. 40

     4.   Total districts in NER is 84, Arunachal Pradesh, 16; Assam 28; Manipur,9; Meghalaya 7,; Mizoram, 8; Nagaland, 8; Sikkim, 4; and Tripura 4.