UP Skill development mission brings hope to millions of unemployed youth of Uttar Pradesh. 4.5 million and more youth, to be precise. Our e-governance portal, the largest in Skill Development in India, clocked higher peak transactions per second than some of the largest ecommerce portals.
Uttar Pradesh is the fourth largest state of India by geographical area, and her most populous state. It is the most populous sub-division of any country in the world. It has a population exceeding 200 million, 72 districts, and a literacy rate of about 69%. About 79% of the population lives in rural areas.
Only five countries in the world (China, India, United States, Indonesia and Brazil) have populations greater than Uttar Pradesh. The demographic and governance challenges of this state are hard to comprehend, due to its size and social diversity.
The Uttar Pradesh Skills Development Mission or UPSDM was born in mid-2013 as an initiative by the UP state government to make its large young population employable. Many youth were not well educated and had only unskilled labour as the source of their livelihood. The UP government launched the Skills Development programme to train the youth at zero fees in the areas where the state as well as the country needed resources, i.e. in semi-skilled areas and vocational training. The focus was on automotive industry, textile industry, agricultural, health, security etc. The UPSDM officers were well aware of the responsibility they were taking up and the management overheads they would have to tackle. An information system was a key part of the management solution.
In November 2013, Ernst & Young LLP (EY) and Merce Technologies Pvt Ltd (Merce) were awarded the project to provide complete processes and mechanisms for the Mission to set up its activities and operate its tasks. EY was given the task of process consulting, definition and operational support, and Merce was assigned the responsibilities of building and maintaining the information system addressing complete workflow and MIS requirements.
The Mission was very critical since aa few million unemployed youth were pinning their hopes for their futures on it. The youth (referred to as “candidates” in UPSDM terminology) were eager for the training and employment opportunities which otherwise were inaccessible to them.
The actual training would be imparted by the Mission’s training partners (referred to as TP). Choosing the right Training Partners was critical. The various schemes for skills development launched by the Central Government had to be studied thoroughly to ease the candidates’ burden and maximise their benefit from the schemes. Assessors needed to be empanelled to assess candidates and grade their performance. The entire process was to be automated to reduce bureaucratic delays. The central information system was designed to engage with all parties (candidates, TP, assessors, and Mission management) to reduce off-line and manual.
The Mission works with candidates, Training Partners, assessors, and Potential recruiters.
Merce designed the software as a centralised system with a browser interface. Our team built the portal and Website in a phased manner. In the initial phases, one of the biggest challenges was to handle the load of dozens of transactions per second, and millions of hits on the static site per day. With tight budgets and lengthy bureaucratic procedures, procuring hardware and provisioning for Internet bandwidth was too slow to be practical. After a brief consultation with the Mission and their partners, Merce took a bold step to move the entire setup to a public cloud. This was one of the first bold decisions by the Mission management.
Merce first launched the portal for candidate registration with performance optimisations at the application, database and hardware levels. The application was being accessed simultaneously every day from over 2,000 computers at 100+ locations during the candidate registration phase. During some periods, 100+ database transactions were being performed per second, sustained over several minutes.
Poor and unstable Internet connectivity from various outlying districts made application access difficult. Significant design changes were done to the application’s user interface and back-end processes within two weeks of the launch to address these challenges.
The Mission’s stated goal in the project RFP was to serve about 25 lakh (2.5 million) candidates over a three-year period. However, the number of candidate registrations over the first two months exceeded 45 lakh (4.5 million), exceeding the Mission’s most optimistic projections. Candidate registration had to be suspended for temporary periods to handle the back-office manual processing load and allocate capacity to respond to the candidates. On certain days, new candidate registrations touched 2 lakh (200,000) in a single day. During this period, the software system performed reliably. Another critical requirement was batch creation. Candidates needed to be grouped into batches for a particular round of a course, keeping dozens of factors in mind. The application needed to match the candidates and the schemes offered by the Mission. Each candidate profile needed to pass through the batch creation engine, which assessed various parameters of the candidate profile and matched it against multiple parameters defined under each scheme. Also, the mission itself had certain criteria of forming a batch, e.g. the mix of male and female candidates or mix of SC/ST and general-category
Candidates. The three-fold complex algorithm required software to be designed very carefully so that each constraint was considered when forming each batch. The sheer number of registered candidates (40 lakh+) made the process more complex. Merce’s technical excellence was called into play to address these requirements.
The Mission is running successfully with well-defined processes and guidelines which have been formulated and codified by EY’s process consulting team. Its entire life cycle is monitored and managed using the single portal designed, developed and maintained by Merce.
Some periods clocked 100+ candidate registrations per second, sustained, over several minutes.
Other modules included
- Training Partner registration
- Inspection module for training center
- Attendance module
- Candidate profile management
- Training center creation and management
- Assessment Body (AB) registration and workflow
- MIS reports for the overall control of the scheme