Vocational education and training was a highlight of the recently released draft of India’s National Education Policy 2020. In fact, experts suggest that the NEP 2020 draft portrays vocational training and vocational education positively for the first time in decades. The current Indian government aims at integrating vocational education into mainstream education. And this will be done through its inclusion in the school syllabus.
Vocational training and skills are given importance in the educations systems of countries like Finland, Switzerland, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Now, India aims to be on the same track. Let us consider what makes vocational training important for students.
What is Vocational Education and Training?
Vocational Education and Training (VET) involves training young people with theoretical and practical skills needed for a particular trade or job. These courses are tailor-made for a particular job. So, after finishing their vocational training, these young people are ready to join an industry or job.
Need for Vocational Training
Today, technology and skills are changing at a rapid rate with old skills going out of relevance every day. Do you see how technologies like AI and machine learning have thrown people out of their jobs, but have also created new job markets?
What makes vocational training important is that it helps train young minds with the skills needed for a particular job. However, extensive studies on the labour market need to be done periodically to chart a successful VET programme. Let us see why vocational training is essential for students today.
Learn Specialized Skills:
Vocational courses provide hands-on knowledge of skills. Skills like plumbing, electronic repairs, technician jobs, carpentry, automobile mechanics, among others, need practical experience and specialization – unlike academic courses. With consumerism growing, there is an increased demand for such specialized labour skills. When the demand for a highly skilled force goes up, this also helps raise the incomes of such a skilled workforce.
Earn Higher Because of Reduced Skill Gap:
Reducing the gap between the traditional academic curriculum and vocational curriculum can help reduce unemployment. Those students not willing to opt for undergraduate courses or higher studies opt for vocational training. This readies them for work and pays them better as compared to workers without qualifications. Vocational education and training will help deploy knowledgeable workers to the field. These trained workers also acquire expertise earlier in their careers.
Consider the Swiss Vocational Education and Training (VET) programme. Under this, young students can choose from over 250 different professions for an apprenticeship. The apprenticeships take around two to four years. And, the students are trained in a particular profession during this period. The number of apprenticeships available depends on the labour market demand for job profiles. There are apprenticeships available for different kinds of professions, like handicrafts, carpentry, plumbing, to office jobs. As the number of apprenticeships depends on the labour market demand, it ensures that the apprentices find a job quickly after their training programme. Switzerland is a country with one of the lowest unemployment rates globally, having recorded an unemployment rate of 2.7% in 2019, as per the Hays Global Skill index 2019-20.
Curious to know how 15-year old Swiss kids enter the workforce, even before finishing their schooling? Watch our video here.
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3. Dignity of Labour:
Vocational education and training can create a skilled workforce for jobs that demand a certain type of skillset. Moreover, this, offers a recognized qualification for such skills. It also acknowledges the skills the workforce possesses. This will create dignity in labour for jobs that are not considered white-collar. Historically, plumbing, masonry, mechanic jobs, nursing, and carpentry have been considered jobs suited for certain economic classes. Despite their importance for the economy’s progress, in India, dignity in labour evades people skilled in these jobs. Besides, in a country like India, the informal economy is larger than the formal economy. Vocational training can be used to create viable and long-term job opportunities in the labour market.
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Skills for the Future
Vocational training is important given how globalization and digitalization are shaping our world. Skills are going out of relevance faster. Technological innovations are driving a set of skills to be obsolete on the one hand. While, on the other hand, they are creating demands for jobs that need new skills.
To create a skilled and employable workforce, it is essential to reduce the gap between academic and vocational education. This also needs cooperation between government, industries, and corporate organizations.
Despite the advent of globalization, several developing countries face high levels of poverty and inequality. In fact, research studies have pointed towards the importance of achieving the right skill-mix for reducing poverty. Which puts countries on the path to high economic growth. And, for this, it is imperative to support all spheres of education – academic, as well as vocational.
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