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Saturday, 11 February 2012 00:58
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Vocational skills programme has too many players

Given that just a fifth of children appearing for the Class X examination end up going to college, it is obvious India needs a serious vocational education programme. More so given the low level of employability of graduates of most colleges/MBA programmes/engineering schools—that’s the reason why over

2 lakh MBA, and a greater number of engineering college seats are going vacant. To that extent, the National Vocational Education Qualification Framework (NVEQF) is a great idea. To begin with, starting 2012-13, the government is planning a seven-stage system that starts from Class IX and allows kids to get 1,000 hours of both general education and skills training at each stage that, eventually, ends at the graduate level. Older readers would recall that the 10+2 system which replaced the 9+2 one was supposed to give children the option of quitting formal school after Class X and getting into the vocational stream. That, however, never happened.

What is problematic about the new attempt, however, is how the system is evolving. Even before the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) was set up, India had an impressive list of vocational education providers in the ITIs and the polytechnics. The model, however, had several weaknesses and the principal one was of employability of students. Apart from trying to work out a viable financing model involving bank loans for students, what

NSDC did was to come out with sector councils—essentially comprising the industry leaders in various fields from automobiles to retail—who were given the responsibility of looking after the quality of the skills providers. A retails skills provider, for instance, would work under the guidance of the retail skills council that would be headed by, say, Pantaloon executives. The logic was simple. Industry had to employ the kids, so it was best that industry not only provided the curriculum it wanted its future employees to be familiar with, but also certified the education. This is where the problem with NVEQF arises. Instead of NSDC and its skill councils being responsible for it, AICTE is to provide the required statutory approvals for various vocational programmes. If it isn’t bad enough that AICTE and NSDC are now going to be doing essentially the same thing, the labour ministry also has its own parallel vocational programmes. Since we’re just about starting a structured approach for vocational education, it would be a good idea to eliminate this multiplicity of certifying agencies at the very beginning.



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