An important step in inclusive growth of the country, the Skill India campaign, has become a national agenda in both politics and the media. All of us are aware of the huge skills gap that currently exists in our country. It ranges from the day-to-day needs of the common population to get a skilled plumber or an electrician, to the needs of the industries and the service sectors to get skilled workforce for production/service delivery.
In the light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for making in India, there is a great momentum to scale up the efforts towards skilling. The seriousness on the part of the government is evident from the fact that recently a separate ministry for skill development and entrepreneurship has been set up. It is expected to converge different initiatives for skilling and develop a comprehensive programme to achieve the aim of skill development at the national level. Along with the new initiatives, many of the earlier schemes and programmes are being revamped. Built upon the experiences of various initiatives so far, the government is now keen to set up national vocational universities in different states.
Several studies have indicated that there is a major mismatch between the skill-sets of the youth trained in the existing skill/technical training institutions and the skill requirement of the jobs available in industries in most of the sectors. In India, only about 5% of the workforce has marketable skills, as compared to 50% to 60% in many other emerging economies. The magnitude of the challenge is further evident from the fact that about 12 million people are expected to join the workforce every year.
There are some successful models on vocational education in other countries that can be potentially replicated to increase the prevalence skilled studies in India. Germany’s dual model of vocational training is quoted as one of the most successful models anywhere in the world. The German model has a long history and strong socio-economic (and even cultural) roots—thus it is not easy to transfer. Developing a full-blown dual vocational training system at the national scale is difficult and will take its due course of time. Yet it is important to understand the core elements of this model, listed by IZA Newsroom (newsroom.iza.org), which are:
- A combination of structured learning while working in companies with vocationally-oriented schooling;
- A standardised, binding national training curricula that are updated regularly and examinations with chambers of crafts and commerce to certify occupational skills;
- Fixed-term apprenticeship contracts with specific and collectively-agreed wages;
- Co-regulation by social partners and government regarding curricula and exams; and
- Shared funding by employers (labour costs) and the government (schools).
In the Indian context, the need of the hour is to adopt an appropriate strategy for skill development that will help in producing a large number of skilled workers for the national needs as well for the international job market. The model for skill development has to be scalable, sustainable and cost-effective. It should also assure quality that can match the international standards. In fact, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) has tried to develop a model which can be suitable for universities in India.
The TISS entered into the field of skill development in December 2011 by establishing the School of Vocational Education (SVE) with a seed grant from the ministry of HRD through AICTE. It is an effort to demonstrate how universities and higher education institutes can impart vocational education. The TISS-SVE, in fact, has tried to develop a robust model that involves partnership with training institutes and industries from different sectors for imparting quality vocational training to a large number of young people pan India. It is a work-integrated training model with appropriate modifications of the German model of vocational education.
We have, so far, identified 20 different sectors to offer vocational education courses. For any sector there are three types of partners—vertical anchor, hubs and skill knowledge providers. All these partners are carefully selected for ensuring the quality of education. With help of these partners, the TISS has the role of offering job-oriented vocational courses by setting up processes for standardisation of course delivery, examination and certification.
While this particular model is still evolving, there are a few basic strengths of this model. For example, the emphasis is more on hands-on practical training at a related industry and appropriate theoretical knowledge. The courses are vetted by a committee of experts drawn from related industry, academicians and are aligned with the National Skills Qualification Framework and National Occupational Standards. The model is not based on supply-creation but is demand-driven—the courses are started only in those locations where there is a possibility of work integration.
It is too early to judge the effectiveness or impact of this model, introduced by the TISS, but we are confident to make considerable progress over the next few years. Since the need for training is so huge, it is necessary to use as many training resources as possible to impart vocational education.
The author is deputy director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences