Editorial Articles

Volume-41, Dated 6-12 January, 2017

Integration of Skill Development and
Higher Education

India is at a crossroad where if it leverages the benefits of its young demography, it would have an edge over other economies. It can become a major workforce provider catering to its own and global needs. In past, education and skilling (vocational education) were being treated as parallel and independent streams.
Various studies have shown that our graduates have not been found to be industry deployable after education. UNDP India Skills Report 2017 shows that none of the higher education provide for employability higher than 60% during 2014-16. It also shows that Polytechnic has shown a significant increase of employability from 10% in 2014 to 26% in 2016. During the same period, formal education employability has gone done considerably.
This lack of employability has been often attributed to the ‘skill gap’ which exists between the inputs of education system and industry requirement.
It is perhaps the boundary-walled approach (non-application based academic focus only) of higher education which results in the product, the graduates, turn out to be less employable than desired. National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) lays ground for an approach towards removing the parallel treatment of education & skilling. NSQF defines levels and credits for each competency based vocational skill. It goes on to establish a credit transfer framework which allows creation of pathways between formal and vocational education.
University Grant Commission (UGC) has launched three different schemes to integrate vocational education with formal education in Higher Education space, namely Community College (CC), Bachelors in Vocational Education (BVoc) and DDU- Kaushal Kendra’s (DDUKK). Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship through NSDC and Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) has undertaken an effort to broad-base this integration by supporting the implementation of the aforementioned schemes with respect to Curriculum Alignment and Assessment & Certification with participation of about 449 colleges/universities. The bridge vocational courses (counted as credits) in these schemes, help in patching the industry academia gap thus resulting in better employability of graduates.
Though these are the first steps towards building a fully integrated vocational and formal education system, there is a long path ahead because the challenges are not limited to regulatory framework of higher education only. The prime challenge is that vocational education is still perceived as being inferior to formal education and hence results in forcing students to land up in formal education rather than vocational education. This perception is changing slowly but steadily as people are understanding that skilling is not equivalent to manual labour and often results in better employability and growth prospects with experience as it empowers candidates with more market relevant skills.
Authored by: Rajesh Agrawal, (JS) MSDE Pranshu Gupta (Consultant)
Gaurav Jain (Consultant)