On an average, India sees 12 Million people become job eligible each year. Most of these people, if they work, find jobs in the unorganised sector. A small number goes through Vocational Education programmes sponsored by the government or through private coaching centres. In the early days, vocational training covered technical professions such as turning, fitting, electricals and electronics etc., or largely, manufacturing or trade related. Now, with the significant increase in services domains, vocational programs cover IT and IT services, consumer and retail, hotel and tourism, etc..
Why Vocational Education?
The key difference between Academic courses and Vocational courses is the that the academic courses see a significant number of hours spent in the classroom while vocational courses require a significant number of hours to be spent in the on the job or practical training. A key fact is that a vocationally trained person is trained to perform a very specific type of work, whereas an academically trained person is trained to be more well-rounded, if one can say that.
An important aspect of vocational training is the apprenticeship or on the job training. This, in my view, is a challenge that impacts the quality of trained persons we bring to the job.
Another point to note is that that vocational education is very dependent on the market capacity to absorb trained persons. As an example, one may see more focus on services courses as compared to tradesman courses given the demand. This needs to be constantly evaluated.
The measure of success of a vocational program is the competency measured at the end of the course. This is a critical aspect as the persons undergoing the course have to be productive in their jobs immediately.
Some of the courses offered today include –
- Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture.
- Architecture and Construction
- Computer Science and IT
- Business Management
- Art and Craft
- Health Science
- Personal Care and Fitness
- Media Studies
- Social science
- Hospitality and Travel
Vocational Education in India
In India, the Central Govt defines the vocational education training and provides funding. There are about 9000 schools imparting 150 vocational courses of two-year duration in several disciplines. It caters to about 1 Million students countrywide. The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), a GOI initiative offers about 80 courses and 0.6 Million students are enrolled. The gap between the number of people eligible for employment as a whole is significantly higher than the ones being imparted training and the gap increases each year.
The National Vocational Educational Qualification Framework (NVEQF) is the government’s initiative to address the quality of the students passing out of the courses. We will need to understand the details. The plan is to create a unified framework that allows the recognition of the courses, quality and qualifications at a national level.