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Employability Skills and Vocational Education
India's transition to a knowledge-based economy requires a new generation of educated and skilled people. The competitive edge will be determined by its people's ability to create, share, and use knowledge effectively. India requires a knowledge economy to develop workers – knowledge workers and knowledge technologists – who are flexible, analytical and will be the driving force for innovation and growth
It is a well known fact that technical education plays a vital role in human resource development of the country by creating skilled manpower, enhancing industrial productivity and improving the quality of life. To achieve the goals of a knowledge economy, India needs a flexible education system: basic education to provide the foundation for learning; secondary and tertiary education to develop core capabilities and core technical skills; and further means of achieving lifelong learning. This should facilitate quality learning.
With more than 8000 institutes in the degree sector, 2500 in the polytechnic sector, and more than 1.9 million seats at the entry level in the degree stream, 0.5 million in the polytechnic stream, we have one of the largest technical education systems in the world. A host of ITI's in every State also cater to vocational education and skill building.
Reforming the Education System
Today, a student who wishes to get into a technical education programme can do so. A few problems like finding the finances can be facilitated through a good student loan model. The Government's model of providing the same through setting up of a finance corporation is laudable in this context.
However the near total inclusivity has also put undue and tremendous pressure on the system to respond to the new expectations like finding a suitable placement for almost 1 million youngsters graduating from our Institutes every year currently and growing to 2.0 million in three years to come. It would also be worthwhile here to note that a student with 50% minimum eligibility at the qualifying examination also gets into this system along with the student at the top of the ladder. A normalisation of the process caters to common denominator and hence a fall in standards.
Our examination systems being what it is will also cater to common denominator that only aids in propagating more mediocrity in a system that is already mediocre.
Hence we have a system that is extremely difficult to be high on quality metrics. The industry would obviously employ the best of the lot. In the absence of an industry profile, the available job market in absolute numbers, and the available graduates, the mapping would always be incongruous.
New institutes, programmes and new courses are all based on perception and whims of a few entrepreneurs, who prefer to set up institutes in the areas they choose with scant regard to the demographic needs. The affiliating universities and the State Governments do not help the cause by not preparing the perspective plans for the regions in their jurisdiction. This results in a highly skewed growth of technical education with no bearing on either industry needs or that of the country's needs.
The net result of the above understanding is that there are a large number of graduates who are unemployable. Are there enough jobs for every one graduating before raising the bogie of un-employability is a million dollar question which no one wants to answer?
Though many institutes provide quality education comparable to the best in the world, many of our institutes are now fully short of facilities at all levels, be it in infrastructural or faculty both in required numbers and quality.
Need for Skilled Manpower
Two greatest concerns of employers today are finding good workers and training them. The difference between the skills needed on the job and those possessed by applicants, sometimes called the skills-gap, is of real concern to human resource managers and business owners looking to hire competent employees. While employers would prefer to hire people who are trained and ready to go to work, they are usually willing to provide the specialised, job-specific training necessary for those lacking such skills.
Most discussions concerning today's workforce eventually turn to employability skills. Finding workers who have employability or job readiness skills that help them fit into and remain in the work environment is a real problem. Employers need reliable, responsible workers who can solve problems and who have the social skills and attitudes to work together with other workers.
Employability skills are those basic skills necessary for getting, keeping, and doing well on a job. These are the skills, attitudes and actions that enable workers to get along with their fellow workers and supervisors and to make sound, critical decisions. Unlike occupational or technical skills, employability skills are generic in nature rather than job specific and cut across all industry types, business sizes, and job levels from the entry-level worker to the senior-most position.
Finishing schools are generally expected to build greater self