Q. Highlight the need and challenges of mainstreaming vocational education in India. What measures have been taken by the government in this regard?
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• Briefly introduce the concept of vocational education.
• Describe the need for mainstreaming vocational education in India.
• List down the challenges in mainstreaming vocational education in India.
• State the measures that have been taken by the government in overcoming such challenges.
• Conclude accordingly.
Vocational education or Vocational Education and Training (VET) consist of practical courses that impart skills, knowledge and attitude to students and prepare them for specific trades, crafts and careers for effective employment. Contrasted with general education, vocational education is skill- oriented and trains both the head and the hands.
Need for mainstreaming vocational education in India:
• Unskilled workforce: India faces a dual challenge of paucity of highly trained workforce, as well as non-employability of large sections of the conventionally educated youth, who possess little or no job skills.
• Reaping demographic dividend and promote entrepreneurship: As per NSSO Periodic Labour Force Survey 2017-18, India’s labour force participation rate for age-group 15-59 years is around 53% which require the right skills to become engines of economic growth.
• Market demand: Labour market has become more sophisticated with demand for higher levels of specialised skills.
• Reforming school education: Multiple exit points should be provided wherein a weak student should be able to graduate after he has completed his compulsory course of elementary mathematics, language and basic computer skills and some optional subjects such as horticulture, animal husbandry, plumbing, welding etc.
• Boost to the informal sector: It will provide a skilled labour force in the informal sector, which would further enhance productivity and improve the overall economy.
Challenges in mainstreaming vocational education in India:
• Lack of recognition: VET is rarely considered to fall under the traditional definition of secondary and higher education. This results in reduced mobility between vocational and general education.
• Lack of standardisation: Lack of uniformity in learning outcomes across institutions leads to problems in establishing equivalence of certificates/diplomas/degrees which in turn impacts employability.
• Inadequate academia-industry linkage: This results in low employability because of mismatch between demand of employers and relevant curriculum of vocational schools.
• Poor ecosystem of skill training: Different government agencies, NGOs and corporates manage their skilling initiatives independently leading to lack of synergy. Further, a survey of ITIs found a shortage of trained teachers.
• Weak apprenticeship system: Engagement of private enterprises for offering apprenticeships has been low.
• Associated social stigma: VET has until recently focused on specific trades such as automobile mechanic or welder, and is therefore associated with activities of lower social classes
Measures taken by government:
• Samagra Shiksha scheme: Initiatives have been taken under this scheme towards integrating skills and education through Vocationalisation of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education.
• National Council for Vocational Education and Training: It will regulate functions of entities engaged in vocational education and training and establish minimum standards for functions of such entities.
• National Skill Development Corporation: It is a Public Private Partnership to create training capacity in the country; fund vocational training initiatives and create a market ecosystem for skill development.
• National Skills Qualification Framework: This initiative would facilitate mobility from vocational to general education and vice versa. Further, to impart skill training more efficiently, initiatives such as Labour Market Information Systems, National Employability Enhancement Mission etc. have been undertaken.
• Standard Training Assessment and Reward scheme: It envisages a monetary reward to incentivise taking up of vocational training. Further, government is also providing certification recognising skills attained informally through Recognition of Prior Learning of Construction Workers scheme.