Thursday, August 20, 2009


None to whet VET in its current form…

Over the years, employability has always been one of the most daunting challenges of India’s growth story. As such there is lack of adequate academic infrastructure and on top of it high drop-out rates at all levels clubbed with narrow access to higher education makes the future look extremely grim. On account of which millions of people still remain unemployed, even in sectors that require most basic skills. Welcome to an education system, where the most pertinent vocational training is the last skill imparted.

Across the world, it has been observed that as and when economy progresses, the labour market becomes more specialised and skill-based, wherein governments and industries increasingly invest in vocational education. Even India introduced similar skill-providing institutes under the aegis of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). The fundamental objective behind these institutes was to enhance skill sets within our work-force through industry and government participation. In order to further provide impetus to the initiative, Finance Minister has proposed to grant an interest-free loan upto Rs.2.5 crore to each ITI for development. However, neither industry nor students are much excited about such courses, primarily because most of these courses do not make them employable and most of this, again, are not industry- endorsed. All the more reason that the Planning Commission's report on Employment Opportunities found that 44 per cent of all workers in 1999-2000 were illiterate and another 22.7 per cent had schooling only up to the primary level. Without any apprehension, relevant and industry endorsed vocational training can come as a bliss for many thousands of youngsters, who are currently unemployed or are under disguised employment. In spite of such unprecedented prospects, inefficiency still shadows this initiative. Speaking of numbers, India has only 5,100 it is and 1,745 polytechnics (mostly dysfunctional) compared to China's 5, 00,000 VET (Vocational Education and Training). That’s not all, India’s vocational programs provide only 171 skills compared to over 1500 that the developed countries provide. India is still trying to detangle the course structure that is currently scrambled, thanks to 17 ministries that handles VETs and obviously without any co-ordination!! What’s worse, even the service-providers of this system are not fully equipped as only 40 per cent of the instructors have undergone a full instructor-training course.

Even with the given infrastructure, what India has not been able to achieve in the last 60-62 years, Germany and the likes have achieved in less than 50 years. Over 50 per cent of German students work in an industry for a couple of years after high school. Likewise, South African and Brazilian VETs are funded by industries and Australian VET's syllabi are defined and endorsed by industry and not by government. Similar trend can be observed across the industrial world.

India, still, is lost in those archaic syllabi wherein the course structure of VET still revolves around traditional skills. Today, the market demands vocational education in fields such as retail, tourism, information technology and most other service based industries, as well as in traditional crafts and cottage industries. As such Government is struggling to generate enough employment for masses and has been constantly expanding its budget for schemes like NREGA. Even if a percentage of the same is utilised to revamp the ITIs and the management of the same is provided to industry, then the challenge to generate sustainable employment and employability, both can be taken care of, forever.


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