Barriers to skill acquisition: evidence from English training in India

Tarun Jain, Pushkar Maitra, Subha Mani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Skill development is viewed as an escape from the low education – high unemployment trap in developing countries. Despite investments in skill development programs, participation and completion rates in many programs remain low. We investigate factors that prevent individuals from acquiring spoken English, a skill with potentially high returns in the labour market. Using data from a field experiment in India, we find that offering subsidies increases the probability of participating in a spoken English training program. Simultaneously, distance to the training center, pre-existing knowledge of spoken English, and past enrolment in a similar course act as significant barriers to take-up. These findings suggest that multidimensional policy solutions are required to overcome barriers to skill development in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-325
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Development
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Field experiment
  • India
  • Skill development
  • Spoken English
  • Vocational training

Cite this