Dr Banarsi Lal & Dr Pawan Sharma
Vocational education refers to a system or course of study that prepares individuals for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities. It prepares people for the specific trades, crafts and careers at various levels in all spheres of life. Vocational education is an important element of the education initiative in India. There is need to redefine the critical elements of vocational education to make them relevant, inclusive, flexible, contemporary and creative. Historically education has been the preserve of only a few in India. Before the British rule in India, scriptures and other forms of traditional learning were passed on to the next generations in the Gurukul tradition but usually that were only for the Brahmin community. Non-Brahmins were mostly excluded from this knowledge but they used to learn the family trade as a part of their upbringing. In order to provide the skilled artisans and labour for society’s requirements the skills needed for the various trades were transmitted to the succeeding generations. Opportunities for entrepreneurship were developed among the youths so that they could earn a livelihood and gain prosperity. After the Industrial Revolution the nature of education changed all over the world. Many trades became redundant and new employment opportunities began to emerge and there was a change in the way of earning for the livelihoods of people. In India there was a wide range of changes in the way of education. Education system was changed to accommodate standardization for factories and administration. It also began to diverge from traditional knowledge to the modern science, maths and English. There was a new class of civil servants, doctors, professors and lawyers who were distinct and very different in outlook and education from the vast mass who remained poor and uneducated. With passage of time, the great divide in education became about how much money one had and which school or overseas college one attended, rather than about the learning passed down through the generations. People without education were having the fewest employment opportunities to earn their livelihood.Vocational education has diversified over the 20th century. In newly independent India, Mahatma Gandhi’s emphasised on village economies, economic policy and thought was advised by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru’s view on industrialization. More attention was paid to higher education with the creation of institutions of excellence such as the IITs and IIMs, and engineering and medical colleges which began to produce graduates for the newly industrialising nation. During this process, schools and vocational education were kept on a backseat in the decade between 1950 and 1960, even as we produced more engineers and doctors, the actual number of illiterates in the country rose from 294.2 million to 325.5 million. In a sense, this divergence was also institutionalised -higher education became a focus area for the Ministry of Education, while skills education and labour policy were relegated to the Ministry of Labour. Given that these two departments often competed for the same scarce resources, it was only a matter of time before education and skills development came to be viewed as separate from each other. Aspirations for growth and personal advancement began to be associated with higher education and not skills or working with one’s hands, as a result of which only 2 per cent of all those working in industrial or semi-industrial trades were formally or professionally skilled. The new millennium brought with it a realisation that this divergence could have a disastrous impact on India’s future. India’s demographic dividend and opportunity to re-establish herself as a leading economy in the world had to be addressed through adequate skilling of youth for employability and contribution to the nation’s economy as well as a global workforce.It is believed that India will shape the emerging world order and change not only its own destiny but even that of the world through technology innovations, economic strength and moral leadership. It is also felt that India will be the moral voice for people around the world to practice inclusiveness and sustainability and considered as the benchmarked country in the world. This period saw an upsurge of initiatives to address the convergence of education and skills, such as the framing of the National Skills Policy 2009 as well as the establishment of the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), National Skills Development Agency (NSDA), the creation of the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) and setting up of the Sector Skills Councils to spearhead the selection and articulation of outcome oriented competencies for high volume jobs. The National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) is very significant initiative as it provides the framework for a much needed convergence between education and skills by enabling mobility between formal and vocational education, while also creating a framework for enabling recognition of the large numbers of informally skilled individuals with the opportunity for future career progression. This initiative has the power to dramatically reset the relationship between education and skills.Presently, there are various experiments being conducted for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and vocationalisation of schools and colleges, which have already been benchmarked in the revised National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015. The formation of the Ministry for Skills Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to coordinate the various skilling initiatives across the nation. Make in India and Skill India campaigns have also gone a long way in re-energising the relationship between education and skills by moving the youth’s interest in acquiring skills formally and industry participation in recognising skills certifications along with educational qualifications. The integration of new technologies and the recognition of 21st century skills of design thinking, problem solving, analytics and entrepreneurship will necessitate a revamp to the approach to school curricula and open doors to even greater synergy between industry and education. Government of India launched the National Skill Development Mission on 15th July 2015, which coincided with the World Youth Skills Day. The Mission has been set up to create awareness on the Skill India and will encourage the skills training activities. In India there are various schemes and missions under different ministries like Pt Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana, the Digital India, Make in India etc to promote the skills development and to develop products within India by the Indians. While Government is emphasising on the provision of skill development trainings, the availability of more and more skilled personnel will need to be accompanied by the creation of increased demand for their services, which is helpful for the growth of the economy of the country. Economic and financial policies must spur growth and development and lead to the generation of income and employment for the youths graduating from various institutions. The industries must ensure that supply and demand for skills is properly balanced. Many of the jobs we currently provide to our young people may become redundant with passage of time. It is impossible to predict any degree of accuracy, the kinds of jobs that will be handled by young people in the future, just as many of the jobs, that they presently do, could not have been imagined 25 years ago. There is need to work on 4 Cs – communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. Any education or skilling system must provide these skills and the ability to the trainees to adapt the changing circumstances, so that they will be able to handle the demands of future. For future employability and skills of the youth vocationalisation of schools and institutions is must.
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