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The challenge is to increase the proportion of employable & talented students from 20% to 80%

By Dr. Varun Gupta,

The way forward is to use the appropriate vocational skills at the appropriate time.

Vocational education at the secondary level will help the students implement concepts while still in school. says Dr Varun Gupta.

While India keeps making economic growth towards becoming one of the world’s fastest growing economies in the 21st century, there are many concerns regarding its ability . One of the major challenges for any growing economy is to have sufficient skilled human resources, something we simply lack. Expanding the training skills system by adding technical courses at the school level is the answer.

With 50% of the population under the age of 25, and 65% under the age of 35, we are a young country. While we celebrate India’s demographic dividend, the challenge is to increase the proportion of employable and talented students from 20% to 80%.

The way forward is to use the appropriate vocational skills at the appropriate time. The government’s New Education Policy (NEP) published this year puts a strong focus on vocational training and skilling, which should begin in elementary school. All states and Central boards of education should include skilling as part of a regular education system, both as an aspiration element and as an employability of soft skills element, if vocational training is to be mainstreamed.

Early skilling programmes will be introduced in schools and students will be exposed to industry work alongside academics. Vocational education at the secondary level will assist the students in not only studying but also implementing concepts while still in school.

The NEP proposes that the students be skilled from Grade 6 to Grade 12. From the viewpoint of the learner, this allows him or her to apply knowledge on the shop floor all while allowing the students to self-discover their capabilities and interests. It helps in the earlier detection of the right talent from the viewpoint of the industry.

Bringing this transformative shift to our educational system, on the other hand, is a major problem. It will be necessary to build a massive infrastructure. The government has a significant role to play in this, both in terms of developing a friendly, pragmatic policy and in terms of facilitating the establishment of appropriate infrastructure.

For in-house training, schools will need vocational labs in several fields. The students interested in the healthcare field, for example, will need infrastructure to learn the fundamentals of healthcare in the school’s vocational labs before moving on to hands-on training in hospitals.

Schools and institutions will be required to develop curricula that reflect industry needs, embrace shop-floor learning, identify student abilities, and promote their brilliance.

On a big scale, private sector participation will also be required. The industry will need to promote talent acquisition activities and inspire high school students to join aspirational domains and show their skills. In India, applied skill universities are still in existence. The newly created National Rail and Transport University and Petroleum Universities are significant steps in the right direction.

There are a lot more of these applied skill universities that we need. The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the educational ecology is expected to last many years.

The students will be prevented from attending normal schools caused by social distance norms. Innovative teaching methods are developing as a consequence of these circumstances.

In the future, digital delivery techniques for smooth and easy communication between students and trainers will be critical. In the coming years, content innovation, delivery methodology, assessment, and the seamless use of artificial intelligence will all play an important role.

Dr. Varun Gupta, educationist, author and social worker. Views expressed are personal.