An International Symposium on “Flexible Models for Skill Development” was jointly organized by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, here, yesterday. Thanking the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand for sharing their experiences in the field of vocational education, Sri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, pointed out the enormous potential of the work force in India which was growing at a rate of 1.7% annually. However with a capacity for vocational training limited to just 3 million annually vis-a-vis the demand of about 10 million, the challenge is to bridge this gap by providing the required skill base. He added that imparting these skills should include an element of continuum giving students the ability to learn and unlearn making the system flexible. This also requires development of standards in skill development by recognizing existing skills, getting State Education Ministers to map the skills required in various localities of their states, by means of which industry can work with these localities would provide skill training in these areas.
Speaking on the importance of vocationalisation of education starting from the school stage, Smt. (Dr) D. Purandeswari, Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development, said that there is an urgent need for innovation which need to be learner-centric. Vocational institutions facing these challenges with changing technologies should meet this need to provide a system of certification empowering individuals to contribute to the national economy. She hoped that this one day symposium will come out with strategies to meet the diverse needs of manpower by 2020.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Steven Joyce, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills & Employment, Govt. of New Zealand expressed hope that this symposium will provide a tangible opportunity for learning through collaboration, keeping in view the massive challenge of providing skills to 500 million people in India by 2022 and with the long tradition of innovation in the field of vocational education possessed by New Zealand.