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Vocational Exposure is the Key to Employability

Context:

India’s economic growth, amid a globally imbalanced economy, has sparked optimism. The New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 underscores the significance of empowering the youth with skills from an early age, positioning them as essential contributors to a developmental revolution.

Relevance:

GS-2

  • Human Resource
  • Government Policies & Interventions

GS-3

  • Skill Development
  • Growth & Development

Mains Question:

Vocational Exposure will empower the youth to be job-ready, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship for India’s development as a developed nation. Analyse. (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Status of Skill Development in India:

  • The initial target was to raise the proportion of formally skilled workers from 5.4% to at least 15% by 2022-2023.
  • The India Skills Report 2022 indicates that the overall youth employability is only 48.7%, falling short of the targeted 109 million workers.
  • The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) data reveals that 86% of those aged 15 to 59 lack vocational training, emphasizing the need for dedicated efforts in skilling and education.

Necessity of Skill Development in India:

  • The current focus is on initiatives aimed at enhancing skills, particularly through the Skill India Mission, to build ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047.
  • Education now extends beyond traditional institutions due to market changes and digital progress.
  • Gaining skills aligned with market demands not only offers promising job opportunities to the youth but also forms a solid foundation for ‘Viksit Bharat’.
  • With a demographic advantage, India must harness this potential by establishing the capacity and infrastructure for skilling, reskilling, and upskilling both existing and new workforce entrants.
  • Upskilling the youth is essential for increased income, higher profitability, and enhanced productivity in the economy.

Government Initiatives in this Regard:

  • The NEP has set a clear goal to raise the gross enrolment ratio in higher education, including vocational education, to 50% by 2035.
  • This involves adding 3.5 crore new seats to higher education institutions (HEIs) with a focus on flexible curricula, integrating vocational education with mainstream education, and enabling multiple entries and exits with suitable certification.
  • The establishment of Multidisciplinary Education and Research Universities (MERUs) aims to provide top-quality education, comparable to IITs and IIMs. The commitment extends to providing vocational exposure to at least 50% of learners through school and higher education by 2050.
  • The vision is for every child to learn at least one vocation and be exposed to several more, leveraging India’s vast education network.

Evolution of Vocational Education Policy:

  • The Kothari Commission report in 1966 was among the early initiatives to advocate for curriculum diversification at higher secondary levels through vocational courses.
  • Subsequently, the National Education Policy of 1986 aimed at enhancing the organizational and management structure of vocational education.
  • It proposed vocationalization at both secondary and higher education levels, introducing Socially Useful Productive Work (SUPW) as a distinct subject in secondary classes and vocational degree courses at the higher education level.

National Education Policy 2020:

  • Addressing challenges on both the demand and supply sides of vocational education, NEP 2020 seeks to mitigate them. On the supply side, it promotes:
  • Conducting proper skills gap analysis and mapping of local opportunities.
  • Aligning vocational courses with specific areas for a more structured approach.
  • Emphasizing the credit-based National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF), initiated in 2013.
  • Assessing prior learning to reintegrate dropouts from mainstream education by aligning practical experiences with the NSQF.
  • Aligning vocational occupations with international standards set by the International Labour Organisation.

On the demand side, NEP 2020 proposes:

  • Integrating vocational education programs into mainstream education gradually.
  • Fostering respect for labor and highlighting the significance of various vocations, including Indian arts and artisanship.

Key Provisions in NEP 2020:

Vision for Balanced Education – Socially meaningful and aspirational:

  • Eliminating harmful hierarchies and silos between different areas of learning.
  • Reimagining vocational education for competency building.
  • Promoting inclusive, interoperable, interdisciplinary, and outcome-based education.

21st-century Capacity Building:

  • Holistic and multidisciplinary education for well-rounded individuals.
  • School internships for skill appreciation and craft-centric learning.
  • Professional development of teachers.
  • Job market orientation with multiple-entry and exit options.
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and alignment with International Standards.
  • Emphasis on technological development and student entrepreneurship.

Way Forward:

  • However, achieving these goals requires sustained efforts, steadfastness in implementing reforms, and investments in setting up skill centers in every high school nationwide.
  • Providing skill training to our youngsters is crucial to nurturing an interest in entrepreneurship. This exposure will familiarize them with cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence, drones, the Internet of Things (IoT), Real-Time Analytics, and more.
  • Given that automation and data exchange are central to the fourth Industrial Revolution, known as Industry 4.0, it becomes essential to equip our young minds with the relevant training. While some may choose careers in the government and services sector, the majority are likely to explore opportunities in the thriving manufacturing and service sectors in our country.
  • While some efforts have been made to restructure skilling programs, the underlying issue has not been effectively tackled. For example, the introduction of the Garib Kalyan Rozgar Yojana (GKRY) by the government in 2020 to address skilling and unemployment issues arising from reverse migration did not yield the anticipated results.
  • Numerous reports suggest that GKRY’s market demand-driven skilling initiatives fell short of success and did not reach the targeted beneficiaries. This points to a systemic problem impacting India’s talent ecosystem. Consequently, instead of merely categorizing youths as ‘Labharathi’ (Beneficiary), the focus should shift towards equipping them with the necessary skills to transform into ‘Kamarathi’ (Workman).
  • Addressing the informal sector, which employs 93% of India’s working population, requires engagement through online and offline channels, with Common Service Centers (CSCs) aiding last-mile reach.

Conclusion:

Ultimately, industry stakeholders, including the government and private sectors, must contribute to instilling cognitive skills, a growth mindset, cultural intelligence, and digital literacy. This collective effort will empower the youth to be job-ready, fostering innovation and entrepreneurship for India’s development as a developed nation.


February 2024
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