Published On: Wed, Jan 4th, 2012

Vocational Education & the year passed by…(2)

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As it exists today, vocational education perpetuates the iniquitous social hierarchy in the country. We need a system that treats vocational subjects as an honourable option and offers them as a serious alternative for students, regardless of their class, caste, region or any other marker of socio-economic status.

The major challenges or questions we need to answer are:

  • How do we begin imparting vocational skills to a staggering millions quoted above? (Most of these youngsters are in the age group of 15 to 25 years belonging to lower middle class, could be school dropouts or even a graduates who is in search of a way to support a living .)
  • Where can we find suitable instructors? There is serious shortage of skilled teachers, finding the welders, machinists, carpenters, electricians, beauticians, gardeners, English language trainers, computer skills instructors and multiple others to handle good vocational skill instruction is a task that boggles the minds of the policy makers.
  • How will we create jobs at places where these students reside?
  • If they are provided jobs at place far off from their homes (From villages / towns to cities) how will they relocate with the current salaries and facilities provided?
  • How these youngsters sustain with meager salaries they are offered? (The salaries range from Rs.4,500 to Rs.6,000…. How can an individual support himself and his family with this kind of an earning)
  • The employers are skeptical of employing these youngsters due to reasons such as
    1. Lack of experience (Employers prefer experienced staff over youngsters who have just completed the course of a short duration)
    2. Salary constraints (Employers over salaries which are way below employment seekers expectations)
    3. Facilities (Employment seekers expect facilities such as stay and food which may not be provided by the employees

What is the most important factor which rule the decision of a CAREER ASPIRANT whether or not take up Vocational Training and specifically paid Training?

Here the career aspirant is the consumer and  going to the consumer point of view, a young man / woman’s desire to pay and enroll into a Vocational Training Course is solely dependent on the difference he / she sees between the compensation potential before and after being trained.

The major questions which arise are:

  • Do organizations see any value difference between untrained vs trained while choosing candidates for employment?
  • If yes how do we quantify the value difference?
  • What would be the compensation premium they would be willing to pay for this trained vs untrained employee?

The major factors to be considered are:

  • Demand for Trained employees.
  • Quality of Training / Skilling provided.
  • Industry-Academia association /partnerships.
  • Location of the training organization and probable employers

The major aspects to be taken care of are:

  • Identifying skill requirements and course offerings exactly matching the needs
  • Training the trainers to match the industry standards and constant faculty training and assessment to maintain quality of training
  • Internship / On the job training
  • Placement partnerships
  • Striking a balance between affordability of the course and profitability of the venture
  • Tie ups with bankers to fund the course fee /student loans

It would be preferable if:

  1. The design of the vocational system will not compel students to choose too early between the vocational and academic paths.
  2. Vocational education system must offer students the possibilities of switching between the vocational and the academic paths if they wish to do so. Offering this flexibility is a definite route to reducing the social burden of any choice, i.e. making all educational choices “honourable”.
  3. In order to ensure flexibility it would be good to have a vocational education method that is integrated with the basic education system on one end, and with higher education system on the other. An integrated system will erase sharp distinctions between “vocational” and “academic” streams, thereby increasing the probabilities of youngsters to opt for Vocational education who are inclined towards higher education.
  4. A flexible, localized vocational education system, built integrated with effective basic education will easily be accepted and embraced by the rural and semi-urban societies.

Let us declare 2012 as year of ‘Proud to be Skilled Indian’ says Vijay Thadani CEO of NIIT Limited and Chairman of CII’s Northern Region.

“We should also look at launching events such as ‘Indian Skills Idol’ and have popular brand ambassadors to endorse pride in skills. Then we will not be apologetic about our 1.2 billion population. We can be an enviable reservoir of 1.2 billion skilled people.”

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