Education Needs New-age Outlook
Siddharth Chaturvedi, Executive VP, AISECT, describes why skills component in higher education is critical to meet industry needs and to reduce unemployability
The education system in India received a much-needed facelift when the Government of India announced a change in the system of education in the light of NEP 2020. This came at a juncture when educators and institutes began to recognise that the old-world structure or what Brazilian Educator Paul Freire calls the banking model of education was not working. The old system where students received, memorised and repeated was irrelevant to the new world and impractical at this point. Students were looking to expand their horizons, be critical thinkers, and gain practical real-world knowledge and skill-sets that would make them employable.
At AISECT we always believed that information is not synonymous with education. Since its inception in 1985, AISECT has been focused on imparting practical education that reaches the grassroots of India further empowering them to be skilled, employable youth with an entrepreneurial spirit. When Santosh Choubey started AISECT, the basic idea was that there were gaps in scientific temperament and worked to bridge these gaps with an approach that was practical. At AISECT we recognise that the strength in education and knowledge depends on the medium that it is imparted. As one of the first movers in this direction, we introduced course curriculums in regional languages, which the NEP recognises and supports.
Today the job and skilling industry has seen several paradigm shifts. However, one of the major challenges that the job-seeking population of India is facing today is the mismatch between education and employment. The skill gap is stark between industrial demands and job seekers. Not only are employers seeking people with technical skills, but the pre-requisite also includes soft skills like communication, critical thinking and problem-solving approach, along with other imperatives like leadership, teamwork and emotional intelligence. It is inevitably the responsibility of universities and institutes to invest time and resources in training, reskilling & upskilling and the duty of the government to have policies implemented that ensure opportunities to future-proof careers and make individuals indispensable assets to companies.
Skills are considered as the essential pillar for employment and enhanced economic growth of a nation. The persistent industrial market demand for employability skills has provided a requirement to integrate skill-based education in higher education intending to develop graduates’ future work-ready. Thereby, a considerable necessity has been felt to align higher education with skill-based education and to incorporate skill-based education as an essential part of the higher education system. Expanding access to skill-based education in higher education can enhance the competitiveness of a nation in the global world. Countries like Switzerland and Germany, well renowned for their extensive dual systems of vocational education and training, have attained worldwide recognition.
In a collaborative effort towards improving higher education curriculum, universities should introduce skill-based and realistic knowledge experiences sharing systems and new learning techniques. Higher education institutions should build partnerships with business industry bodies and skill assessment organisations to contribute to reforming strategies. Leaders can come together to assess areas that are facing skill gaps in the industry and institutes can bridge this gap by introducing learning through a practical approach to the same.
The integration of skills in higher education under the National Skill Qualification Framework and incorporation of skills and ability enhancement courses through Choice Based Credit System for sustainable skill development is also advocated along with the full-time vocational degree/diploma programmes and add-on courses being offered through BVoc.
We also have the NEP which brings formal education and skill development together. It talks about skilling from the VIth standard onwards and mainstreaming vocational education. NEP also focuses on skilling being an integral part of higher education and it sets a target of 50 per cent learners across the higher education institutions to be exposed towards skill development. Now is the time to implement this idea of bringing the two streams together. And it will be no less than a revolution in the skilling and education domain of India.
As per the Eighth Edition of the India Skills Report 2021, the unemployability rate of Indian youth stands has increased from 53.79 per cent to 54.1 per cent, as reported last year. However, various sectors have reported the availability of job opportunities but are met with a lack of industry-relevant skills, which also results in a rising unemployment trend. This can be attributed to a widening skill gap in the Indian industry.
Impetus to skilling
In today’s times when India is leading 4th Industrial Revolution, the existing ecosystem of skilling, higher education and employment need a facelift. Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) have a pivotal role to play in the placement of talent in the right job. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Skill India Initiative in 2015 with the ambition to train about 400 million people. It recently received an approved amount of Rs 12,000 crore from the Cabinet, indicating the seriousness shown by the Government to bridge the existing gap of supply and demand of talent.
One such example of recognising and bridging the skill gap is the collaboration between The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Microsoft with the AISECT Group.
NSDC and Microsoft have collaborated to transform India into a digitally empowered nation through NSDC’s eSkill India portal. The focus is exclusively on female students, targeting beneficiaries from rural and semi-urban parts of India and AISECT has implemented the project in seven locations — Bemetara, Rajgarh, Narayanpur, Bijapur, Durg, Jhansi and Chitrakoot. The current project’s target is to develop ICT-based skills among girl students living in the project locations and generate employment.
Blue-collar and grey-collar workers are the backbone of every sector in India. India has a working population of blue-collar employees of approximately 300 million and it is estimated that India Inc will create around 7 million blue-collar jobs by this fiscal year-end. However, the gap lies in formal training programmes for blue-collar workers across sectors. The rising number of start-ups, eCommerce enterprises have created a need gap in this segment. A basic understanding of technology and the use of the internet can bridge the gap massively leading to the use of job portals and applications for skilling and training.
In the year 2030, India’s working population is predicted to increase from 750 million to nearly one billion. If plans for training are not undertaken the country will be burdened with a growing class of unemployed individuals and subsequently negative economic consequences. India needs to step forward with the affirmation that education needs a new-age outlook to practical training, content creation and multipurpose training. At AISECT we continue to focus on skill training for the youth, in about 17 sectors, including electronics, hardware, logistics, banking and finance.
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