Skills Driven Education
October 2010

Skills Driven Education

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Pondering over the quality of students who apply for technical education, it is worth attention that the aspiring young people who apply in institutions such as IIT show that at least 10-15 percent of these applicants are comparable to the students at major public universities in the US India VS world

Often heard government views, including views of Shri Kapil Sibal, Human Resource Development Minister, resonate of the great potential the India encompasses. It has been estimated that not far in the future, India will have a population ration where majority will be in segment of youth earners/ workers with minority remaining as dependent population, while most of the developed nations are to see a skew whereby majority of their respective populations will fall in category of dependent inhabitants. In such a scenario, India will hold the prospective workforce not only for itself but nations across the world. Foreseeing such a need, it becomes all the more important for us as a nation to have a skilled workforce which is not only trained but is recongnised or certified too, in order to deliver quality services.

Pondering over the quality of students who apply for technical education, it is worth attention that the aspiring young people who apply in institutions such as IIT show that ‘at least 10-15 percent of those applicants are of IIT quality and comparable to the students at major public universities in the U.S.’ At the same time, India as a nation has to still catch up with other countries. For instance, ‘A comparison between India and China in this regard shows that China has developed the technical education sector much more rapidly than India. China has produced more than 5,000 Ph.D. holders per year compared to India’s 1,000.  China has also successfully implemented the concept of scalability as it currently has fifteen IITs (eight of which have only recently started), though it is still not clear how the newer IITs will be staffed with qualified faculty as in the existing IITs.’

Open Universities and Skill Development

Open universities offer skill development and vocational education programmes, as a part of higher education sector, unlike other mainstream higher education universities. These courses are additional course which are not offered by the latter, especially in area of skill development. The open universities provide flexibility, anywhere-anytime access to education.

For instance, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), the largest Open University offering distance learning programmes collaboration with Srei Sahaj e Village Limited, a part of Srei Infrastructure Finance Limited has come up with a cost effective skill development vocational programme, for Indian rural inhabitants. This has been channelised through over 29,000 Common Service Centres (CSCs) in states of West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, UP, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. This programme involves the learning strategy known as ‘Education That Works Learning System’ (ETWLS) that revolves around self regulated computational system and whereby, the skill assessment is done online.

SKILL DEVELOPMENT AT
SCHOOLS
When it comes to skill education and vocational training, there is a noticeably high demand for skilled workers in the industry. The demand is met by supply of untrained/ non certifi ed labour, mainly consisting of illiterate youth/ children or the drop-outs. There have been lots of efforts made by the government in order to introduce vocational training in form of Industrial Training Institutes, etc, and other training centres of varying capacity across fi elds at higher education level, but there is hardly any initiative at K12 level for introduction of the same. The attitude towards training in areas away from the mainstream is not very positive in Indian context, especially for those who want to pursue and/ are in a position to pursue higher education. It is considered as the last or perhaps no option at all. For those students, however, who drop-out of school or are interested in becoming a part of the work force at an early age, vocational training and skill development are of utmost importance. Certifi cation in such cases, if provided, can help youth to attain good salaried jobs and earn a decent living. Without any kind of recognition, even if one is skilled, the person usually ends up having abrupt employment pattern or being unemployed off-and-on. The All India Council for Vocational Education under MHRD is responsible for planning, guiding and coordinating the programmes at national level for vocational education and training, mostly for the grade 10th pass students, besides the State Councils for Vocational Education at respective State Levels. A major question that rises is that of a ‘choice’. Is it only the government school children who need to be ready for introduction of any skills or vocational training, because we observe a large drop-out from government schools? Shouldn’t there also be an effort to train students from public and private school as well so that, if there is a choice, the young people can join the workforce directly after secondary or senior secondary level? Offcourse, there is a need! However, still a greater need is that of bringing an attitude change in the society towards such training or learning. There is a need to introduce for our Indian audience the importance of the non formal education, which is taken as synonymous with the skill development and vocational training education, in a manner so that it is considered as an important a supplement to higher education, and not completely discarded as a left-over for those who cannot do anything else, with formal education. Rita Kaul, Principal from The Millennium School, refl ects upon importance of non formal education or technical education, “At the Millennium School, besides academics, we anyway equip our students with a variety of life skills which will help them become productive citizens. It is an essential part of the cutting edge learning system called the Millennium Learning System adopted by us.” Similarly, SC Arora, Vice Chairman, Lotus Valley International School, mentioned that there is a need to make students adept with non-formal education or skill education and vocational training that can enable them to get a job immediately after school, more so students from that strata of the society who do not wish to pursue higher education. He added that presently, most school students are not equipped with such skills that make them fi t for industrial based jobs. About inclusion of skill development in course and curriculum prescribed by CBSE, he opined that “Some subjects are there that cater to skill education and
vocational training, but it is not adequate and most of the school do not go for this options.” We have in our school system some major drawbacks in form of hindrances such as absence of teachers, issues of quality and standardisation. Often technology is sought as a major tool to overcome these and add value to the in-use education system. On similar lines, Rita Kaul, adds in support of role of technology for skill development and vocational training, “India has a fast-growing Service based industry. So there is defi nitely a huge role of IT based education if we want to dominate globally since it will help both in terms of increasing reach as well as enhancing quality.” ICT presents a more unique way of making learning interesting and existing, especially in reference to use of multi-media. With a similar opinion about role of ICT, SC Arora mentioned that for imparting any type of education ICT can be used in form of audio- video aids, which makes learning and grasping of a concept easier for students.

PRIVATE INITIATIVES AND SKILLDEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
Skilled labour force is not only a demand of the industry but also a concern. In order to share the effort of creating a trained skilled force many private companies have started collaborative programmes to offer livelihood, especially to rural youth. One of such initiatives
is the Larsen and Toubro Ltd, ECC division’s initiative in partnership with MoRD, Government of India, where the former supports the latter for execution of Demand Driven Skill Developmentany kind of recognition, even if one is skilled, the person usually ends up  aving abrupt employment pattern or being unemployed off-and-on. The All India Council for  Vocational Education under MHRD is responsible for planning, guiding and coordinating the
programmes at national level for vocational education and training, mostly for the grade 10th pass students, besides the State Councils for Vocational Education at respective State Levels. A major question that rises is that of a ‘choice’. Is it only the government school children who need to be ready for introduction of any skills or vocational training, because we observe a large drop-out from government schools? Shouldn’t there also be an effort to train students from public and private school as well so that, if there is a choice, the young people can join the workforce directly after secondary or senior secondary level? Offcourse, there is a need! However, still a greater need is that of bringing an attitude change in the society towards such training or learning. There is a need to introduce for our Indian audience the importance of the non formal education, which is taken as synonymous with the skill development and vocational training education, in a manner so that it is considered as an important a supplement to higher education, and not completely discarded as a left-over for those who cannot do anything else, with formal education. Rita Kaul, Principal from The Millennium School, refl ects upon importance of non formal education or technical education,
“At the Millennium School, besides academics, we anyway equip our students with a variety of life skills which will help them become productive citizens. It is an essential part of the cutting edge learning system called the Millennium Learning System adopted by us.” Similarly, SC Arora, Vice Chairman, Lotus Valley International School, mentioned that there is a need to make students adept with non-formal education or skill education and vocational training that can enable them to get a job immediately after school, more so students from that strata of the society who do not wish to pursue higher education. He added that presently, most school students are not equipped with such skills that make them fi t for industrial based jobs. About inclusion of skill development in course and curriculum prescribed by CBSE, he opined that “Some subjects are there that cater to skill education and
vocational training, but it is not adequate and most of the school do not go for this options.” We have in our school system some major drawbacks in form of hindrances such as absence of teachers, issues of quality and standardisation. Often technology is sought as a major tool to overcome these and add value to the in-use education system. On similar lines, Rita Kaul, adds in support of role of technology for skill development and vocational training, “India has a fast-growing Service based industry. So there is defi nitely a huge role of IT based education if we want to dominate globally since it will help both in terms of increasing reach as well as enhancing quality.” ICT presents a more unique way of making learning interesting and existing, especially in reference to use of multi-media. With a similar opinion about role of ICT, SC Arora mentioned that for imparting any type of education ICT can be used in form of audio- video aids, which makes learning and grasping of a concept easier for students.

PRIVATE INITIATIVES AND SKILL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
Skilled labour force is not only a demand of the industry but also a concern. In order to share the effort of creating a trained skilled force many private companies have started collaborative programmes to offer livelihood, especially to rural youth. One of such initiatives
is the Larsen and Toubro Ltd, ECC division’s initiative in partnership with MoRD, Government of India, where the former supports the latter for execution of Demand Driven Skill Development Programme. Under this programme the company offers training to rural youth (BPL) in area of construction. The initiative costs around INR 470 million, out of which MoRD is responsible for 30% of the funds and remaining 70% is being taken care of by L&T, for training and infrastructure facilities.

SHOULD SKILLS AND MAINSTREAM HIGHER EDUCATION MERGE?
Some opine that tertiary education and /skill development and vocational training should be a part of the mainstream higher education system while others opine the opposite. For instance, Navyug Mohnot, CEO, QAI, “Skill development and vocational training should be constituted as a separate entity, more so in a country like India. This will broad-base the provision of skill development linked to the investment cost of education. Most western countries have a developed framework consisting of sector specifi c Skill Development Councils and Guilds that track industry manpower statistics, track quality and provide certifi cations of skill sets acquired. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) do not typically understand the requirements of training needed for skill based jobs, as they specialise in grooming students for
knowledge based jobs. However, HEI’s will gain by leveraging their brand, academic and physical infrastructure to provide private/corporate trainers a platform to disburse the skill development of the targeted manpower.” Participation of the private player facilitates not only infrastructural and monetary benefi ts to various programmes that they support, but also provides a platform for the youth in training to get hands on experience with the industry.

NATIONAL SKILL DEVELOPMENT MISSION IN INDIA
The 11th Five Year Plan aims to increase the present skill development capacity of 3.1 million per year to 15 million annually. India targets to develop manpower of 500 million skilled workers by 2022. The aim of the mission is to increase employability, meeting the supply demand balance, making employees adept with knowledge of technology and skills, improving livelihoods of people, and making skill development an attractive proposition for investment. The National Skill Development Mission is inclusive in nature and is to minimise disparities of gender, urban-rural, and employment in organised and unorganised sectors. The objectives of the National policy on Skill Development include – creating opportunities to earn living, especially for disadvantaged groups, promoting participation of stakeholders from private sector in developing a workforce, creating a mechanism that caters to diverse needs of stakeholders/ industry and so on. Its coverage is to encompass development of institution-based skill development including ITIs/ITCs/vocational schools/technical schools/ polytechnics/ professional colleges, e-learning, webbased learning and distance learning and
so on. The initiative promotes quality skill education to provide with skilled supply of labour to the dynamic, changing and increasing industrial demands. Under the same umbrella, effort are to be taken to create a framework of National Vocational Qualifi cation Framework (NVQF) in order to provide quality, fl exible, continuous, lifelong learning knowledge to the
seekers of skill education. The initiative is to proceed with states becoming the key actors.

WHAT IS REQUIRED?
From the above note, it can be gatheredthat at present what we need to uplift the
value of skill development and vocational training in the country is
• Provide with trained instructor
• Provide with certifi cation and standardisation of courses available in the sector
• Have independent accreditation systems
• Include industry for facilitating various programmes in fi eld of skill training, and
• Bringing about change in the mindset of people about the fi eld, so that it can be regarded as more than ‘just the last option’

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