Making a difference through vocational technical education

There is an urgent need for industry experts to participate in the nation building process. Skilled manpower should not be made solely the responsibility of educational institutions.

By Feature writer
Making a difference through vocational technical education

According to a UNESCO report, ‘acquiring skills’ has been considered a vital component for reducing poverty, recovery of an economic and sustainable development as well. As a consequence, policy attention to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) also needs increasing worldwide focus.

The UNESCO debate led to a global rethinking of TVET ‘to enhance its role in developing more equitable and sustainable societies’.

The ‘Transforming TVET: Building Skills for Work and Life’ debate came to a worldwide consensus that ‘developing technical and vocational education and training (TVET) would be top priority in the quest to build greener societies and tackle global unemployment’.

Global consensus
At the recently concluded 5th BRICS meeting of education ministers from India, Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, it was unanimously agreed upon that ‘the need of the hour is to strengthen cooperation in the field of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)’. For this, these member nations shared ideas and experiences in the development of vocational educators, and develop projects that are of common interests to BRICS Member States. India was represented by Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Human Resource Development.

India’s roadmap
Industry experts across sectors believe that there is a growing importance of skill development and technical and vocational education training in India. The recent figures of National Sample Survey tells us that in 2007 itself, merely two percent of the entire workforce of 400 million workers in India had received vocational education. This low figure brings to surface the sheer neglect of vocational education.

However in the last decade, there is no denying that a remarkable shift in government policies has lead to far greater emphasis on skill development and technical and vocational education and training (TVET). The need for taking TVET seriously could be seen by the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012) where a separate chapter on skill development (something that was missing in the previous 10 plans) was added. Because vocational education is to benefit the specifc industry needs, it makes most sense for funding to come from employers only. Surprisingly, barring India, as many as 62 countries worldwide have respective industry making a contribution to the skill sector fund that is used for training. This isn’t to say that government funds shouldn’t be utilized- in fact they will be better utilized in the unorganised sector and ensuring equity.

Bridging the gap
India’s need for skilled development has been heavy on government run or aided institutions for vocational skill development. Look at the real picture here- quality of vocational training should be determined by length of training, quality of trainers and whether industry is providing internship and experience during the training. Most of these conditions are not met.

Unfortunately, trainers in India have poorly trained themselves with little or minimal industry experience. As a result, the quality of vocational skill training is average or below average. The training duration of most courses is anywhere between one and four months- this is very less. To add to this, is a challenge of providing requisite industry training. So private ITIs funded by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) are in a desperate need of good trainers. Another reason for a major gap between industry needs and actually what youth are learning at various government run vocational skill development programmes is, non involvement of industry in the skill development process.

Unfortunately, all government funded ITIs, IITs and IIMs are not abreast with changing needs of the various industries. In East Asia or Europe for example, TVET is employer driven and industry-funded. Therefore, skilling has become demand-driven and quality and relevance are ensured.

There is an urgent need for industry experts to participate in the nation building process. Skilled manpower is not only the responsibility of educational institutions, but will need support from think tanks in the private and public sector alike.

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