Thursday, September 6, 2012

Vocational Education & Training in India - Industry Association thinks of Vocation University

The Confederation of Indian Industries, CII - in short, had recently convened a seminar on the need to train millions of workers, particularly at lower levels, and making them employable in an industry relevant way. Titled, "Employment Exchanges to Employability Centres", the seminar had been convened at Chennai in the last week of July 2012. In the seminar, Mr S. Mahalingam, Chairman, CII National Committee on Skills and Executive Director cum CFO of Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, said that vocational education programs were necessary to make the best use of the demographic dividend, which our country enjoys. He also emphasized the need for radical changes in the course curricula and the skill training infrastructure. There were a lot of skills required across sectors such as construction, manufacturing, service-related industry including hospitality and healthcare.
shovon chakraborty business blog vocational training
The seminar ended with a note, emphasizing the requirement for setting up one or more "vocational university" in India.
vocational training education university India CII
This particular proposal, at first, made me uneasy. The very mention of setting up multiple university, meant that the government of India, through its regulatory agencies, had the scope of dictating terms. And, when that happens, we all know about the end results. A look at the state of the professional education in India is enough to make us understand about the negative impacts of regulatory bodies like UGC and AICTE. What these regulatory bodies ensure is that the curricula remain grossly outdated and irrelevant from the industry's perspective. As a regional head of an industry body had once mentioned, the professional courses teach our students to play cricket, while the industry expects them to be good at baseball.
vocational training future sharp skills, gram tarang
However, on second thoughts, I could see the light in the argument. In India, probably the biggest barrier on the road to create the required pool of employable youths, remains the perceptions of the people. The prospective trainees, as well as, their parents and guardians, view the vocational training qualifications and certifications as inferior to the traditional degrees, although, traditional general streams, at least in India, have repeatedly failed to create an employable talent pool. This was highlighted by a McKinsey study, which had shown that only 10% of the General Graduates, being churned out every year, are readily employable. Although, this figure was still better than China, but China being China, will surely find out a way out. India, on the other hand, will continue to be a laggard, if something drastic is not done quickly enough.
vocational training future sharp skills, gram tarang
Here, the vocational university concept may come handy. If the students get a university degree, then the negative perception of them being in an inferior intellectual strata, will go straight out of the window. The acceptance of the society, as a whole, will also increase and it should pave the way for more numbers of youth choosing the vocational route, over the traditional college education.
shovon chakraborty business blog vocational training
But, it has to be ensured that instead of agencies like UGC & AICTE, corporate entities and association of corporate bodies should have the final say in designing and implementing the course curricula, so that these remain industry relevant. Otherwise, the whole objective of imparting vocational training will be lost in the process.
shovon chakraborty business blog vocational training
In my next write-up, I'll talk about two case studies, which involves two distinctly different entities - one from the pure-play corporate sector, Future Sharp Skills, while the other is a part of a university, Gram Tarang. Between themselves, the have been doing quite commendable works in the fields of creating employable talent pools. But, their works have been commendable, because there have been almost zero government interference.
shovon chakraborty business blog vocational training
shovon chakraborty business blog vocational training

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