Vocational education or skill-based education is based on a specific trade, occupation or vocation, and is also known as technical education. Vocational education is learned using an age-old apprenticeship system. Ergo, they are traditionally non-academic; India’s greatest problem. India is a country that has recently begun to value academic education and encourages all its children to acquire any degree in an academic field. Children are not given many options and often mindlessly follow in the footsteps of the majority. It is not only forgotten that students have different interests and various skill sets but they are also not encouraged to pursue their true passions. They are blinded by a false pretence that academic knowledge is the only key to a successful and luxurious life.
The global economy is dynamic. Its needs change every few years. An efficient government will recognise flourishing sectors which need technical expertise and encourage students into following their passion in the chosen field. This has not been the case in India. Up until the 20th century, Indians focused their vocational education on specific trades like carpentry, automobile technology (mechanic or welder), electrical technology (electrician) etc. These were considered occupations of the lower social classes. As a consequence, these occupations attracted a lot of stigma in the eyes of the public. This stigma has stunted the growth of such fields tremendously.
However, the labour market is not stagnant and has been ravaged by various changes in the economies, driving them to identify that it is time that the concept of vocational education was reintroduced in the society. Governments and businesses are increasingly recognising potential and are ready to invest in the future of vocational education through publicly funded training organisations and subsidized apprenticeship or traineeship initiatives for students who have just completed school. At the post-secondary level, vocational education is usually provided by an institute of technology or by a local community college.
Despite these efforts taken by the government, a survey by TeamLease Services’ research “Industry opportunity based vocational course design” reported that only 18% of the students undergoing Vocational education (Voc-ed) training are capable of receiving jobs, of which merely 7% are formal jobs. Further 60% of the candidates and employers find these ineffective. This indicated that the vocational education ecosystem in the current form has failed to succeed in creating employable job seekers in the economy even though there is demand for the same, which leads to believe that the quality of these educational providers is not adequate. This survey was conducted among 105 organisations and 65 students.The survey also revealed that the negative perceptions of these jobs, absence of rich academic content and inadequate funding are some primary reasons for a failing vocational industry. A few other reasons are lack of awareness of such courses and scope of continued learning. The training quality being below par was another reason the students were not employable. Although the government has taken a few positive steps in the direction of development of the technical industry, they are blatantly deficient and need to be upgraded.
At present, the management of the technical education system is three pronged: direct government-controlled institutions, direct financial aided institutions and the journal of engineering education and unaided institutions managed by private agencies from their own financial resources. It is apparent that the quality of education provided by them can have differences. It is important to standardise this quality and introduce a board-like system similar to the professional courses in other academic fields. Even though they cannot be graded accurately like academicians, it is possible to bring a level of standardisation that allows students to be sufficiently qualified before they complete their education.
Therefore, the programmes and curriculums must be developed sufficiently, concentrating more on practical work and apprenticeships rather than evaluating their theoretical knowledge. Moreover, in certain fields like engineering, the emphasis has shifted from old conventional fields to more technical fields and introduction of complicated machinery is increasing, the students must be aware of the development in these technological fields and such merging areas and also be able to adapt to these changes instead of being left behind. Their curriculum must cover all these dynamics and provide quality teaching and learning experiences alike. If Voc-ed programs in India are more demand driven, it will enable them to target specific sector skills and contemporary skills ensuring that the students are employable.
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