New Delhi: The central government is enlisting a number of industry segments to help it improve the standards of vocational education so that students emerge better skilled and become more employable.
In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the human resource development (HRD) ministry interacted with the automobile sector on Monday to devise vocational courses tailored to the needs of the industry.
Representatives of auto companies including Tata Motors Ltd and Ashok Leyland Ltd attended the meeting, ministry officials said.
Next in line are the construction and hospitality industries.
The effort is a departure from the tradition of academics and bureaucrats deciding what and how students should be taught, with no role for their eventual employers.
Industry has for long complained that students may graduate with diplomas and degrees, but lack the requisite and relevant skills to be employable, forcing companies to spend time, effort and money to train them.
“We had a constructive interaction with the automobile industry and we have formed a committee headed by R. Seshasayee (managing director of Ashok Leyland) to help the ministry in its effort,” HRD minister Kapil Sibal said on Wednesday.
“The committee will submit a report within three months detailing the road map for vocational education relevant for the concerned industry,” said the minister, adding that this initiative is aimed at making students more employable.
The initiative is aimed at helping both students and industry, he said.
According to official statistics, India’s unemployment rate was 9.4% in 2009-10, an increase of 1.2 percentage points from the level in 2005.
Narayanan Ramaswamy, executive director (education) at consulting and auditing firm KPMG, said involving the industry in formulating vocational courses had the potential to bring “path-breaking results”.
The automobile industry alone faces a shortage of 300,000 skilled people, he said, citing a survey.
“This effort will bridge the gap and give employment to a large number of students with a handsome salary,” he said. “Providing skilled people to labour-intensive sectors like automobile, construction and manufacturing will reduce unemployment in India. The moment you involve industry in education, you get the perspective on the demand and supply chain.”
The effort will start at the senior secondary level with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and then spread to the state educational boards.
While 220 million students are in schools, less than 15 million are expected to pursue higher education, and better vocational education will improve the chances of employment for the dropouts.
“Once you give them the option at the secondary level, students will go for it,” said an HRD ministry official. “Industry too is facing a huge shortage of skilled manpower in the lower and middle strata of the human resource structure.”
The official didn’t want to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Sibal said a separate section will be created within the CBSE to promote vocational education. The HRD ministry is targeting mid-2011 to put in place a national vocational education framework that will give students from Class 8 onwards the option of choosing from a range of subjects including hospitality, electronics and automobiles that they would study alongside their regular syllabus.
“We are for inclusive education and we will bring in necessary changes so that students specialising in vocational courses can smoothly go to the universities as well,” Sibal said.