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Linking Industry-Academia

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Prof (Dr) Louis VernalProf (Dr) Louis Vernal

• Member – National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE), Western Region

• Education Consultant – Learning Links Foundation Delhi, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Goa

• Former Dean, Faculty of Education & Chairman, Board of Studies in Education, Goa University

There is a need to expand the vocational education and training programmes in the country to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend, says Prof (Dr) Louis Vernal

Secondary Education

Education is the key to the task of nation- building. It is also a well-accepted fact that providing the right knowledge and skills to the youth can ensure the overall progress and economic growth of a country. The Report of the Education Commission (Kothari, 1964-66), titled ‘Education and National Development’, set a number of goals to be pursued. One of them was to vocationalise secondary education.

The National Vocational Education Mission includes the establishment of 1,600 new industrial training institutes (ITIs) and polytechnics, 10,000 new vocational schools and 50,000 new skill development centres to ensure that annually, over 100 lakh students get vocational training. There is thus, a need to expand the Vocational Education and Training (VET) programmes to reap the advantage of the demographic dividend of the country and to fulfil the aspirations and right of the youth to gainful employment and contribute to national productivity.

The total annual training capacity of VET programmes thus offered is estimated to be about 25 lakh. There also centrally-sponsored schemes of vocationalisation of secondary education which includes establishment of 1,000 polytechnics in the country under the government, PPP and private models. Jan Shikshan Sansthan and Craftsmen training are other schemes.

About 90 percent of employment opportunities require vocational skills, which is not being imparted on a large scale to students. The major reforms proposed for bringing about necessary ‘flexibility’ in the offering of vocational courses and development of ‘modular competency-based curricula’ in collaboration with industry to suit the needs of both target groups and the employers (industry), will be useful in reducing the shortage of skilled manpower. The corner stone of a vocational framework would be the close partnership and collaboration with the industry/potential employers at all stages: identification of courses, content development, training and provision of resource persons, assessment, accreditation, certification and placement.

A National Policy on Skill Development has been formulated by the Ministry of Labour & Employment and which has been approved by the Cabinet in its meeting held on 23rd February, 2009. The objective is to create a workforce empowered with improved skills, knowledge and internationally-recognised qualifications to gain access to decent employment and ensure India’s competitiveness in the dynamic global labour market. It aims at increasing the productivity of workforce both in the organised and the unorganised sectors, seeking increased participation of youth, women, disabled and other disadvantaged sections and to synergise efforts of various sectors and reform the present system.

Higher Education

Workforce in India

With elementary becoming universal in India, secondary education is targeted in the next phase. Higher education will take time to be transformed into a mass education initiative. At present, India has more than 15,000 colleges with about 10 million students. More than two-thirds of these colleges are Arts, Science, Commerce and Management (18 percent) and oriental learning colleges. The recent growth is much greater in professional colleges especially engineering, management and medicine as well as in private vocational courses, catering especially to the IT sector. There are over 1,250 medical colleges.A major concern echoed by both the industry and the academic community is that India has stock of some 22 million graduates, including six million science graduates, 1.2 million with engineering degrees and 600,000 doctors, according to the data compiled by the Economic Times Intelligence Group, the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and other industry sources. This population is growing rapidly, with over 2.5 million graduates added every year, including 25,000 doctors, 350,000 engineers and over 600,000 science graduates and post-graduates. Yet, at any given time, about five million graduates remain unemployed.As per a McKinsey report, 73 million workers are needed by 2015: 50 percent more than today in the automobile and electronic sectors.Collaboration between educational institutions and industry is vital for producing capable and employable workforce. The courses and their transaction should be tuned to the real-world requirements to increase the employability quotient for the students. The influx of a variety of global organisations have their own set of benchmarks and additional requirements are needed such as analytical ability, communication and people skills, technical proficiency, creative thinking and leadership competency, social media.

Avenues for collaboration

There is a need to create avenues for a close academia and industry interaction through all the phases from conceptualisation to commercialisation. Academia industry collaboration includes:• Academic intervention in solving specific industry problems

• Adopting alternate modes of evaluation

• Bridging the gap between theory and application by bringing in live cases to the institute

• Building up relationship with industry and career advisors

• Collaboration to develop learning models

• Core competency development

• Curriculum adaptations move as fast as the pace of industry change

• Designing faculty empowerment programmes

• Developing joint academic-industry degree models

• Development of research-based teaching material

• Finalising and reviewiing curriculum in consultation with industry experts

• In-plant training for professional competencies, and also to improve soft skills, communication skills, etc

• Institution-based laboratory utilisation by industry

• Paying attention towards pure sciences and IT-enabled services in a post-industrial economy

• Remedying the lack of industry experience of the teachers themselves

• Research: creation and growth of technological knowledge with industry support; tilt the focus of basic research towards application as well

• Setting up of technology incubation centres in close proximity with academic institutions

• Tailor-made education for the unemployed in shortage areas, for small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs)

• Training programmes for students on core competency development and action research programmes

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