Building a skilled workforce
There are more than 7,40,000 formal schools. More than 3.6 million teachers are working on full time basis. There are more than 175 Universities offering under graduate and postgraduate courses and about 6000 colleges affiliated to these universities. But despite these figures (which are growing every year), unemployment is still the most persistent problem plaguing the educated Indian youth.
The unemployment ratio in India has acquired dangerous proportions. This has made us realize that it will be a futile exercise to spend time and energy on academic courses. Academic courses do not equip our children for a job. As a result, today, there is a tendency among students to join some technical educational institutions rather than joining some academic courses. They have begun to acknowledge the importance of technical/vocational education to secure a decent job. Students find it much safer and better to choose a technical/vocational course instead of some academic courses. They also find that the acquisition of a technical qualification coupled with a little bit of experience in a particular vocation would fetch them a lucrative job either in India or abroad.
Indian educational system
The educational structure in India is generally referred to as the Ten + Two + Three (10+2+3) pattern. The first ten years provide undifferentiated general education for all students. The +2 stage, also known as the higher secondary or senior secondary, provides for differentiation into academic and vocational streams and marks the end of school education.
More about vocational education
Vocational Education in a much broader sense covers education and skill development at all levels from post primary to tertiary education- both through formal and non-formal programmes.
The higher secondary programmes by design are collaborative in nature. The schools offer theoretical instruction and basics in terms of vocational practice that is followed by on the job training or practical training at the actual work site.
The practice component of a vocational course varies from 50 to 70%. The R&D institutions concerned with each sector also develop the curricula and instructional materials. Both curricula and instructional materials are developed in workshops in which the employment sector personnel, curriculum experts, subject experts and classroom teachers participate.
No studies have been conducted on the cost effectiveness of the vocational education programme in view of its being rather new on the educational scene. However, the evaluation studies have indicated that if the quality of instruction is satisfactory, Students are satisfied and perhaps equipped to face the world of unemployment better than they would have been otherwise.
Policies on vocationalisation
The Secondary Education Commission (Mudaliar Commission, 1952-53) put forward the idea of multipurpose school and recommended an 11-year pattern of school education for offering diversification after 8 years of schooling by providing training in various crafts/ vocations. The Commission felt that at the end of this, a student should be in a position to take up some vocation and enter the world of work.
The Kothari Commission (1964-66) suggested the restructuring of education into a uniform pattern of 10+2+3 education all over the country, implying 10 years of undifferentiated education for all, with diversification into academic and vocational streams at the +2 level.
VEP (Vocational Education Programme) was started in 1976-77 under the programme of Vocationalisation of Higher Secondary Education in general education institutions. Based on the UNESCO document of 1974, vocational education was demarcated under six categories: Engineering and technology, business and commerce, home science and home economics, healthcare and para-medical, humanities science and education and agriculture and agro-based industries.
The programme aimed to provide skills through production and service oriented courses to reduce the mismatch between the skills acquired by pupil with those required by the employee/market, thereby reducing the aimless pursuit to higher education. The programme also helped in developing entrepreneurial spirit, motivation and competencies needed to organize and run an entrepreneurial venture.
The National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986 advocated introduction of systematic and well planned vocational educational programmes, which can be rigorously implemented to enhance employability. It should impart training in simple marketable skills to students, develop vocational interests, prepare students for participation in work, inculcate desired values related to work and allow for self-exploration of vocational interests. It should be offered in the form of modular courses so that pupils in general should acquire knowledge and marketable skills for direct entry into the world of work.
The National Council for Educational Research and Training’s (NCERT) Curriculum Review Framework 2005 too, laid emphasis on vocational education. According to MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) sources, the ministry is planning to make vocational education compulsory from the pre-primary level onwards, as well as linking community colleges with the help of NGOs to integrate vocational studies.
Objectives of Vocational Education
- To fulfill the national goals of development and the removal of unemployment and destitution
- To impart education relevant to productivity, economic development and individual prosperity
- To meet the needs of skilled and middle level manpower for the growing sectors of economy, both organized and unorganized
- To attract a sizeable segment of population to varied vocational courses so as to reduce the rush to general education
- To prepare students for self-reliance and gainful employment.
Vocational education: The need of the hour
Vocational education equips students with industry-relevant skill-sets. A lot of students are pursuing their graduation through correspondence and are taking our courses simultaneously to increase their employability and entrepreneurial skills.
Several colleges have introduced vocational subject studies at the degree level. These subjects include archaeology, musicology, advertising and sales promotion, mass communication, video production, travel and tourism management, actuarial science etc. that could provide the added specialization.
There are also hundreds of polytechnics and other similar institutions all over the country offering a wide range of vocational and skill-based career development courses such as gems and jewellery, footwear technology, plastics, food processing and construction management. There are hundreds of certificate and diploma courses available today that will suit any student and there are hundreds of institutions everywhere conducting short and long-term courses. Already in vocational education a lot of work is being done. More polytechnics are being opened, engineering colleges are being upgraded and we are soon going to have more Indian institutes of technology.