Schooling & Skilling: Future Ready India

Reducing the skill gap by preparing the youth of our country

The Indian school system has largely followed traditional methods of imparting education, wherein, the entire method of schooling is based on a one-sided flow of knowledge. While this particular approach has worked for a long time, significant gaps were beginning to emerge. Even before the pandemic, the skill gap in India across various industries was quite significant. Approximately, only 25 per cent of graduates in the country are considered to be employable. Significantly, studies have shown that only 20 per cent of India’s engineering graduates are considered to be employable in the current market. 

Industries are going through changes rapidly, digitisation has changed the way we work, learn and live. The sudden expansion, digitisation and automation across industries has resulted in a skill deficit as well as a skill mismatch between availability and requirement of skilled workforce. 

Newer skills are required across industries. The IT sector itself has the need for new-age job profiles such as AI, Big Data Analytics, Robotics and Automation and so on. However, only 2 per cent of candidates possess the necessary skills to be effective in such roles. Apart from technical skills, other skills such as communication (oral and written), research and analytical skills and presentation skills are also lacking among graduates. 

The need to start skill development at an early age: It is worthwhile noting that the new National Education Policy (NEP 2020) has laid emphasis on the need to include vocational skilling and training right from secondary and post-secondary school level. Students from classes 9 to 12 can now opt for vocational courses and focus is now being shifted toward more experiential learning rather than rote learning. Education institutes are mandated to upgrade their infrastructure and prepare or hire teachers who can teach skills along with education. 

Being tomorrow’s workforce and job creators, today’s youth form the base that needs a strong orientation in multiple skills such as cognitive, social, behavioral, technical and vocational. Adopting and implementing future ready skill-focussed curriculum in education institutes will also equip students to become lifelong learners as Career progression through vertical growth may become a thing of the past as new jobs demand new skills and fast. Future job seekers need to be flexible and adaptive in their skill set in order to successfully thrive in a diverse market. Hence, curriculums need to focus on shaping learners to be agile thinkers and doers. Subjects taught in the classroom need to cultivate a solution-centric approach and resilience in learners in order to cope with the changing times.

The need for government intervention

Typically, public schools in India are run by state governments and this gives them an opportunity to inculcate some necessary vocational training at the secondary or higher secondary schooling level. Students who receive some level of practical and vocational training also have a better understanding of how to plan their future education. Moreover, these vocational skills enable students to enroll in diploma programs at trade schools directly out of high school and they are more likely to increase their employability. 

State governments can also look at degree apprenticeships as a possible way to increase employability. Degree apprenticeships provide hands-on practical training and enable students to work while they study. This provides them with valuable first-hand experience and enables them to enter the workforce with a limited learning period. Degree apprenticeships must be promoted at the high school level and thus enable both students and parents to make informed decisions about this possible alternative to traditional degree programs. 

The need for a change in mindset

Parents, educators, governments and educational institutions need to look beyond traditional professional courses and encourage students to take part in non-traditional options such as the culinary arts, archeology, language, musicvand arts, etc. This mindset change will reduce the number of unemployable graduates and create a varied pool of resources that is currently lacking in the country. These courses must be offered with practical training at the school level and thereby offer alternative options to students as well.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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