Skill Development Aug, 19 2016

How to start your own vocational institute

One would require to plan for everything from desks to lab equipment; Chairs and tables; from phone lines to advertising copy; from spare pens to fire extinguishers.

By Jasleen Kaur Taneja
How to start your own vocational institute

A vocational school/institute is a place where students come and acquire some skills in order to establish a business of their own or specialise in a profession. There are several vocational schools all around the world. Whilst some are free because they are attached to a not for profit organisation, others are strictly all out to make money.

Technopak Analysis shows that in the beginning of 2016, there were almost 20,000 vocational schools in India run by Government ITI, Polytechnics, Private ITI and other private training centres. The annual demand by for vocational institutes was by 10 million students whereas the supply was only to 3 million students, thus, creating a huge shortfall of need-gap by 7 million.

Starting a vocational school can be tricky. One can probably be an expert in his/her field, and might already have a lot of experience teaching it, but ironically, the knowledge of his/her industry may have very little to do with the business of starting a vocational school.

The steps essential in opening a vocational institute can be complicated and can involve potential pitfalls too. If taken care, one’s current expertise can be translated into skills needed to start a vocational school and avoiding making mistakes simultaneously. Let us look at the steps to be followed to open a vocational institute:

Be Determined

The first step would be determination. One’s got to determine the need to start a vocational school. Decide whether you want to start this school for the sake of making profit alone, or you’re more focused on how to get people trained on various skills. Being sincere with oneself when answering these questions is the key, as these answers would help the business a great deal.

Curriculum

It’s not enough to have an idea and a general plan. To start a successful vocational school one needs to go into details. The details should answer the following questions in-depth:

  • What subjects are planned to be taught?
  • What are the learning objectives for every subject?
  • How are those subjects taught? (lecture, labs, a combination. What are the required learning materials?)
  • How will one assess student progress?
  • What’s the split between lecture and lab time?
  • How is lab time credited and supervised by staff?
  • What skills are tested as practical application vs. written?
  • What’s the best order to teach all the topics? Why?
  • How many total hours is the program? Is the clock hour amount enough to award a certificate or a diploma in the area of study?
  • How does each subject being taught prepare graduates for getting and keeping a job?

All these answers are required for approval to operate as a school in most states, but drilling down the details also helps one get organised. Especially in the beginning, the more organised one is with the curriculum, the better prepared they’ll be.

Business Plan

The business plan takes care of facilities, staffing, staff training, marketing, enrollment benchmarks (and how to meet them), operational procedures, safety, growth and improvement plans etc.

One would require to plan for everything from desks to lab equipment; Chairs and tables; from phone lines to advertising copy; from spare pens to fire extinguishers. Some states require such plans be submitted for initial approval to operate, so preparing the plan beforehand is advisable. Opening a vocational institute implies your expertise in a particular subject. On the other hand professionals for other courses can be hired also.

Start-up Capital

Starting a school requires a certain amount of capital. Initial capital is required to set up the infrastructure of the school. Also, opening a school does not imply students joining at the very beginning, so one should be prepared with the capital of at least three months of market saturation to advertise a new school in a region: local papers, radio, TV spots, streaming media spots, search engine marketing, etc. Advertising is a must to attract students.

Once the school is up and running, the amount of funds being spent on advertising can be reduced.

Get a Location

This is one of the areas that need thorough attention as it’s the location of school that would, to a large extent, determine the type of students to attract. One may consider consulting a realtor to help get a property that can be divided into different segments. It is important that the different classes are separated so that there is no interference when lectures are in progress.

Research

Before starting a vocational school one should speak with experts who run their own schools and ask how they got started, what they learnt etc. An extra month or two of quality research can save years of bad decisions.

Course Catalogue

The course catalogue contains not only program and curriculum information, but all academic, student grievance, and student conduct procedures. For vocational schools, it’s more than just a schedule of classes. It serves as both the information and rule book for students (schools are required to give a copy to all students when they enroll).

The standard operating procedures for vocational schools must be clear. Thus, creating them is very much jumping through loops, but this proves the state and federal agencies that one is serious about creating a good school and not just getting money from students.

Industry Partners

Primarily, industry partners are required for:

  • Ensuring the curriculum is up-to-date and applicable to current practices.
  • It helps with job placement.

In most states, and for all accreditations, states are required to publish their job placement rates and meet a minimum standard as well. If a school does not place its graduates, the quality of education it provides can be questioned by governing authorities.

Initial Approval to Operate

Most states in India require that a school’s curriculum, staff, and operations plan be approved by the applicable agency prior to the opening of school. Some don’t even allow schools to advertise until they’ve been approved. Once the application is submitted there is generally a site visit to make sure the facilities are adequate.

Dedication

Opening new vocational schools can be most difficult and rewarding but it’s also a very serious business. It will have people, the students paying their own hard-earned money for one reason: to learn something new that might give them a better life.

Running a vocational school is an extremely rewarding business. With people gaining proficiency in a particular field, vocational schools can be seen as the most profitable venture in the times to come.

Related: Training students, earning profits

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