Taking a big diversion from the MBA route that we have been following for some time now, let us now look at other fields of education.We believe that Education is something that aims at Development of an individual’s skills and enhancement of his Knowledge, both of which he can apply in the outside world, which can be a posh boardroom of an MNC or a workshop of a craftsman/technician. This brings us to an important field of education in today’s times- Vocational Education.
Vocational education (Parallel Education) consists basically of practical courses through which one gains skills and experience directly linked to a career in future. It prepares trainees for jobs that are based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic, and totally related to a specific trade, occupation, or vocation thus providing them with better employment opportunities. It is sometimes referred to as technical education as the trainee directly develops expertise in a particular group of techniques. In other words it provides Procedural knowledge in contrast to the traditional education that furnishes theory and conceptual knowledge. Until the end of the twentieth century, vocational education focused on specific trades such as those of automobile mechanic or welder, and it was therefore looked down upon. However, as the labour market becomes more specialized and economies demand higher levels of skill, governments and businesses are increasingly investing in the future of vocational education through publicly funded training organizations and subsidized apprenticeship or traineeship initiatives for businesses. At the post-secondary level vocational education is typically provided by an institute of technology, or by a local community college. Vocational education has diversified over the 20th century and now exists in industries such as retail, tourism, information technology, and cosmetics, as well as in the traditional crafts and cottage industries.
VET in India
Let us look at the importance and extent of Vocational Education wrt our country.
Changing realities – Globalization, competitiveness and the knowledge economy
Established realities – Demographic pressures and financial constraints.
Vocational education can be at the secondary or post-secondary level. At the post-secondary level vocational education is typically provided by an institute of technology, or by a local community college. According to a National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) report two types of vocational trainings are available in India: a) Formal and; b) Non-formal. Formal vocational training follows a structured training program and leads to certificates, diplomas or degrees, recognized by State/Central Government, Public Sector and other reputed concerns. Non-formal vocational training is through ‘hereditary’ sources and helps in acquiring some marketable expertise, which enables a person to carry out her/his ancestral trade or occupation. Following is an indicative graph of Mainstream and Vocational training system in India:
Different institutions which impart vocational training can be classified into five categories: (i) Government, (ii) Local body, (iii) Private aided, (iv) Private unaided, and (v) not known. According to a NSSO report vocational training is received by only 10% of persons aged between 15-29 years. Most sought after field of training is computer related training. Only 20% of formal vocational training is received from ITI/ITCs. In India, technical education and vocational training system follows patterns like graduate - post graduate, engineer - technologists through training colleges, diploma from polytechnics and certificate level training in ITIs through formal apprenticeships.
The Vocational Training in India is imparted by mainly two types of bodies:
- Public Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs)
- Private owned Industrial Training Centres (ITCs)
The Indian Government has invested a lot for the development of skills through ITIs. The DGE&T (Directorate of General Employment and Training) generally regulates these ITIs and ITCs at national level and implements policies for vocational training. Some of the principal training schemes are:
1. The Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS)
2. Apprenticeship Training Scheme (ATS).
Some training schemes provide by DGE&T other than CTS and ATS are:
- Craft Instructors’ Training Scheme(CITS),Advanced Vocational Training Scheme(AVTS)
- Supervisory/Foremen Training Scheme, Staff Training and Research Program
- Instructional Media Development Program
- Women’s Training Scheme
- Hi-Tech Training Scheme
If we were to look state-wise data, Tamil Nadu holds the majority stake in private owned ITCs and Maharashtra holds a similar position for Government owned ITIs. National Council for Vocational Training’, an advisory body, was set up by the Government of India in the year 1956. Main mandate of the NCVT, according to DGE&T, is to establish and award National Trade Certificates in engineering, non-engineering, building, textile, leather trades and such other trades which are brought within its scope by the Government of India. It also prescribes standards in respect of syllabi, equipment, scales of accommodation, duration of courses and methods of training.
Total number and capacity of ITIs and ITCs per million persons in India:
Despite efforts made to popularize these courses, several problems prevent ITIs/ITCs from reaching common masses and youth.
The vocational education stream is quite small enrolling less than three percent of students at the upper secondary level.
1. Vocational students appear intent on entering higher education rather than entering the labour market, given the relatively weak labour market outcomes.
2. Despite the poor outcomes, policymakers remain keen to expand vocational education. Even though enrolments in vocational education in India are small when judged by international comparisons, expanding the numbers or re-targeting the program would not be justified unless a model is found that would substantially improve outcomes.
3. International experience suggests that employers mostly want young workers with strong basic academic skills and not necessarily vocational skills. Hence they believe India would do well to not expand its vocational education system but focus on strengthening its general education system.
4. To make the existing vocational education system relevant to market needs, a major restructuring of the system and how it is managed will be needed. If India wants to emulate countries where the vocational education system has succeeded, sweeping reforms are needed. This will require significant commitment on the part of policymakers.