The last decade has seen a lot of growth and even change in the way education is being imparted in the country. Higher education has seen increasing privatisation and schools are going elite. Professional education, in fact, has become the buzzword for every college-goer. However, vocational education has slid back and has taken a back-seat. Today, vocational education has come to be understood as a training course for students who are academically weak or students who belong to less privileged backgrounds.
Unfortunately, this has cost the nation in terms of a trained workforce since vocational education prepares students to directly fit into a job by giving them practical, hands-on training. One must remember that academic qualifications do not give the practical knowledge that a vocational course provides and millions of students are left unemployed due to this. The absence of expertise in many technical and vocational fields is also costing us economically as a nation.
The first step to counter the harm already done is to do away with the mindset that vocational training is for the less intelligent or the less privileged. It has to be understood that these courses help a student develop practical skills required for a specific job. While ITIs are the only famous entities in India providing vocational training, many institutes like YMCA offer job-oriented courses for students.
With technology penetrating our lives at every level, hardly anyone these days can be found without access to a computer or a smartphone. With e-learning and m-learning making their mark in the digital learning domain globally and even in India, this mode should be adopted and encouraged by the government for vocational education. However, since vocational training is a lot about practical aspect, we need to understand how m-learning incorporates the practical training part.
The beauty of m-learning lies in the limitless possibilities it offers. The issues that this mode addresses are:
Time: With fast-paced lives, people are always on the move, juggling and multitasking. They want to study without time constraint. Traditional systems offer batches of students at fixed times, whereas m-learning is at their disposal whenever they want to study.
Space: No need to travel anywhere. M-learning enables one to study anywhere. All they need is a smart device. No more travelling, no more ruing at inaccessibility of places.
Affordability: Not everyone can afford to attend costly coaching or training sessions. For them, m-learning is a boon because the content is available at the fraction of cost. These days the study material is also getting refined.
M-learning consists of study material which can be accessed through an internet connection or can be downloaded at a small cost. This material is compiled by the best faculty from the industry who provide a step-by-step method to do a task. Video lectures show how to do a task which a student can emulate. To an extent, this is comparable to classroom learning, and with the right amount of effort, can also be a mode of vocational training. The tests and self-assessments help a learner find out how much she has learnt and there is no limit to the number of times a lecture can be repeated.
The vocational course market is picking up and has a huge potential. India needs to upskill its 500 million strong workforce, to which millions are added every year, to avoid falling into the unemployment trap. A major attention has to given to set up more institutes for vocational training, creating awareness around the same, and utilising the power of m-learning by joining hands with major players in this arena. Once the myth of being a low-class course is busted, more parents would open up to enrolling their children to make them market-ready.
The author is CEO & founder, iProf, a digital education library that offers free video lectures, notes, customised tests, individual assessments and more