[Yojana February Summary] Skilling Youth for Future – Explained, pointwise

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Introduction

India is celebrating its 75th year of Independence and today’s youth, born in the 21st century, are going to carry India’s development journey forward till the 100th year of Indian independence. The Prime Minister of India had recently remarked that ‘skilling youth of this new generation is a national need and the foundation stone for a self-reliant India’.

The Government has taken many steps for skilling youth but their level still falls short when compared to the youth of other countries like Japan, S. Korea etc. This calls for addressing the bottlenecks that are impeding skill development in the country and allow them to stand at par with their peers at global level.

What is the meaning of skills?

According to a 2018 report of the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), there are three types of skills.

First, the cognitive skills, which are the basic skills of literacy and numeracy, applied knowledge and problem-solving aptitudes and higher cognitive skills such as experimentation, reasoning and creativity. 

Then there are the technical and vocational skills, which refer to the physical and mental ability to perform specific tasks using tools and methods in any occupation.

Lastly, there are social and behavioral skills, which include working, communicating, listening and responding to others.

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What is the need for skilling youth?

High Demand: Various sectors like  IT-ITeS, Renewable Energy/Green Energy, Power, Hospitality, Tourism, Electronics manufacturing, Green Construction etc. require skilled personnel for realizing their true potential. There is a huge shortage of skilled people in these sectors.

Unemployment rates: The unemployment rate between January to April 2021 in India was 6.83% as per data of Center for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), further rising to 7.9% in December 2021. A more disturbing thing is that the rate was 19% for graduates which testifies the need for focusing on skill. Skilling youth will provide for meaningful employment opportunities.

Demographic Dividend: India has the largest working force in the world and is observing a dividend window until 2040. However if proper skills are not provided then this dividend can easily turn into a demographic disaster.

Greater Foreign Investment: India will receive greater investment if it can provide skilled workforce to the multinational companies. For instance, a surge in investment was observed in Bengaluru when the city started providing skilled IT professionals to the world.

Climate Change: The 6th report of IPCC has cautioned the world towards the grave consequences of climate change. Every country including India is now in a need of developing green skills that can mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.  The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) defines green skills as the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society. According to UNIDO, green skills will be crucial in realizing the SDG 9 which includes the target of upgrading infrastructure and retrofitting industries to make them sustainable.

What steps have been taken for skilling youth?

National Educational Alliance for Technology (NEAT) 3.0: It is a single platform to provide the best-developed ed-tech solutions and courses to students of the country. These solutions use AI for a personalized and customized learning experience for better learning outcomes and skill development in niche areas. Around 58 global and Indian startup ed-tech companies are onboard NEAT.

Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) of Vocationalisation of Secondary Education:  It was launched in 1988 and aims to integrate vocational education with general academic education. Currently, the scheme is being implemented as part of the Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘Samagra Shiksha’ and has been aligned with the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF).

National Skills Qualification Framework: It is a nationally integrated education and competency-based framework. It organizes qualifications according to a series of levels of knowledge, skills, and aptitude.

Samagra Sikhsha Abhiyan: Under Samagra Shiksha, 14,435 schools have been approved to impart Vocational Education. Currently, more than 1.5 million students are undertaking vocational education under Samagra Shiksha as a part of their Secondary and Senior Secondary curriculum.

Skilling Youth Coverage Under Samagra Sikhsa UPSC

Source: Yojana February 2022

National Education Policy, 2020: The aim of policy will not only be cognitive development, but also building character and creating holistic and well-rounded individuals equipped with the key 21st century skills. It has set a goal that by 2025, at least 50% of learners through the school and higher education system, shall have exposure to vocational education.

The Employability Skills module consisting of Communication Skills, Self Management Skills, Information and Communication Technology Skills, Entrepreneurship Skills, and Green Skills has been made a mandatory part of the Vocational Courses.

What are the challenges in inculcating skills?

Infrastructure Deficit: Many schools don’t have equipment, big buildings, technology support etc. to provide quality vocational education to children.

Societal  Bias: A strong notion exists in Indian society that weak children take up vocational courses. This discourages parents from sending their children to vocational courses despite the child’s interest.

Low participation of States: Many states struggle in arranging the finance for imparting core academic education to students and their participation is even worse in case of vocational education.

At present, various components of Vocational Education are being supported by national agencies/institutions. This includes Pandit Sunderlal Sharma Central Institute of Vocational Education (PSSCIVE), National Skill Development Corporation, Sector Skill Councils, etc.. 

Industry Mismatch: Often the skills imparted to students fail to meet industry standards and results in unemployment. Employers tend to replace the individual having outdated skills with a new age machinery.

Lack of Vertical Mobility: The quality of skills imparted in schools is often not up to the mark and fail to provide good employment opportunities. Further, progress is impeded with lack of vertical mobility after 12th class and poor integration of vocational education with mainstream education at all levels.

Read More: Bringing skills and education closer

Top Down approach: Often a standardized curriculum from the central level is designed for imparting skills that pays very less emphasis on locally relevant skill education.

What more needs to be done?

First, integration of vocational and academic education should be done expeditiously. For this, the proposed unified credit accumulation and transfer framework should become a reality.

Second, institutions should restructure and re-orient pedagogy in schools and higher education institutions. It will encourage greater adoption of vocational subjects through novel means like activity based learning in place of traditional rote learning models.

Third, as envisioned by NEP 2020, different models of Vocational Education should be introduced so that locally relevant skill education can be offered in appropriate manner.

For this, capacity development of State level institutions like State Council for Vocational Education and Training (SCVET), State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and its subordinate bodies is a sine qua non.

Fourth, the teachers should do counselling sessions with parents to make them understand the dignity of labor and the worth of vocational education. This would ensure transition to vocational courses out of choice and not as a compulsion.

Fifth, the hub and spoke model under the Samagra Shiksha Scheme should be duly extended to support institutions that lack in infrastructure.

Under this, schools with requisite infrastructure will act as hubs and provide skill education to the children from surrounding spoke schools. Scheme guidelines provide for additional funds for such Hubs, as well as transportation of children between the hub and its spoke.

Sixth, due consultation with industry experts is envisaged on regular intervals for updating the current curriculum and focusing on new age skills like Machine learning, Data Science, Cloud Computing etc. 

Seventh, Digital skilling should become the core programme of all the skill development activities. Further, Artificially intelligent training delivery systems need to be developed and promoted. This would ensure that the training can be customized according to the needs of the learner and its outreach be enhanced.

Conclusion

India is on its way to implement the key reforms for integrating and mainstreaming vocational education with general education. At the same time, the role of all stakeholders at all levels becomes really crucial for ensuring that children are provided with vocational and life skills required for the 21st century.

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