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Vocational Education and Skill Development


Vocational Education & Skill Development in Secondary Education in the XII Plan

The aim is to increase the percentage of the workforce which has received formal skills through vocational education and training from 12.0 percent at present to 25.0 percent by the end of the Twelfth Plan. This would mean that about 70 million more people have to be imparted formal skills in the next five years.

With a dramatic growth in elementary education enrolments and improvements in retention and transition rates in recent years, particularly after the enforcement of RTE Act, the demand for secondary schooling is growing rapidly. Meeting this demand is critical for three reasons. First, secondary education fulfils large manpower needs of the semi-organized and the organized sectors of the economy. Second, it is the supply chain for higher education. Finally, it caters to the needs of teachers for primary schooling. 

Public expenditure on secondary education has increased from Rs.35,806 crore in 2007–08 to Rs.94,183 crore in 2011–12, leading to an increase in its share  as a percentage of GDP from 0.78 percent to 1.05 per cent. Per capita expenditure on secondary education has gone up from Rs.315 to Rs.784 during this period. The Central Government’s expenditure has gone up from Rs.2,578 crore in 2007–08 to Rs.13,278 crore in 2011–12, a five-fold increase. There is significant private expenditure as well. The average private expenditure on secondary education in private schools is as high as Rs.893 per month as compared to only Rs.275 per month in government schools. This difference is primarily due to high tuition fees in private schools. 

The current GER for the secondary stage (Classes IX–X) in 2010-11 at about 65 percent is inadequate, while the dropout rate at 49 percent is also very high. Thus, the country needs to move towards universalization of opportunity to attend secondary schooling of adequate quality. With enrolment in elementary education reaching near universal levels, there would be an opportunity to move towards universal access to secondary education under RMSA.  

There are both social and economic benefits of secondary schooling. Alongside clear improvements in health, gender equality and living conditions with secondary education, investments in secondary schooling have high marginal rates of return, it being the supply chain for the labour force in the semi-organized and the organized sectors of the economy. This aspect of secondary schooling brings in sharp focus on the importance of vocational education at secondary stage.  

The Level of Education of the Labour Force : 

As per the 66th round of NSS the general education level of over 50 percent of India’s labour force in the age group 15–59 remains extremely low. Of the total labour force of 431 million about 29 percent are illiterate, another 24 percent has education up to primary level. Of the balance, about 29 percent had education level up to secondary which included 17.6 percent with middle level education. Only about 17 percent have higher levels of education (including higher secondary, diploma/ certificate, graduates, and higher than graduation). 

The Share of Vocationally Trained in the Labour Force:  

As per the 66th Round of NSS (2009– 10), the vocationally trained in the age group 15–59 in the labour force are around 10 percent of the Labour Force in that age group. The absolute number of those who are receiving formal vocational training is 1.9 million in 2009–10. An additional 9 million in the labour force have already received vocational training formally. Finally, an additional 32.7 million have received non-formal vocational training. Thus, the total number of those received or receiving vocational training in the labour force (15–59) was 43 million in 2009–10. 

Approach to the XII Plan: 

The Approach to the Twelfth Five Year Plan (Faster, Sustainable and More Inclusive Growth) recognizes the role of vocational education in social and economic transformation: 

(i) “It is a common knowledge that children acquire skills faster if taught earlier. It may, therefore, be important to offer pre-vocational courses in classes IX and X, either as an add-on or as an alternative to work education or third language, and skills training of elementary nature, for example, manipulating simple instruments at the elementary level.” 

(ii) “Students opting for such pre-vocational courses should be encouraged and facilitated to take up advanced vocational subjects at the higher secondary level. In addition, vertical mobility options for students taking vocational courses should be available at the undergraduate and postgraduate level, failing which vocational courses at the school-level may not pick up.” 

(iii) “For a high quality vocational education at school level to evolve and grow in the country, there is a need to train and equip our teachers on a continuous basis with latest skills and the vocational pedagogy itself. There is a need for special focus on training of trainers/teachers in skill impartation possibly using a PPP model.” 

(iv) “The vocational curriculum needs to be integrated and closely aligned with academic curriculum containing modules on various generic and specific vocational skills and that the same need to be evolved in consultation with and active involvement of industry. There should be an emphasis on development of
multiple skills so that trainees/ students may respond to changes in technology and market demands.” 

(v) “The revised scheme of vocationalisation of secondary education should be revisited based on the pilots that have been undertaken to test and to ensure that it is aligned with the new National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) and industry-led Sector Skill Councils (SSC), so that vocationalisation does not become an expensive dead end for students. Given the different economic contexts across the country, system of monitoring and evaluation of the scheme must be strengthened.” 

The mean years of schooling of the working age population (over 15 years) has increased from 4.2 years in 2000 to 5.12 years in 2010. However, this remains well below the level in other emerging market countries such as China (8.17 years), and Brazil (7.54 years). Fortunately, the efforts made in expanding access to education in the past 10 years will show up in the form of younger, more educated population entering the labour force replacing the retiring/ superannuating older and less educated individuals. There is a good chance that we can reach an average of 8 years by the end of the Thirteenth Plan. 

“A well educated population, adequate equipped with knowledge and skill is not only essential to support economic growth, but is also a precondition for growth to be inclusive since it is the educated and skilled person who can stand to benefit most from the employment opportunities which growth will provide.” 

Skill Development:  

It is critical for the country to make secondary education much more job-relevant through skills training within the schools. For this, higher investments will need to be made to equip secondary schools with teachers/trainers who have technical skills, and equipment (such as workshops, machines, computer equipment) that can be used to impart technical and vocational skills. In countries such as South Korea and Australia, 25–40 percent of high school students opt for vocational courses, making them job-ready once they finish Grade 12. The vocational credits they earn in secondary schools are recognized by the general education system and a high proportion of these students return to universities to pursue a college degree at a later stage.  

In India, only 5 percent of the population of 19–24 age group has acquired some skills through vocational education, while the corresponding figure for Korea is as high as 96 percent. National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has recommended expansion and re-designing of vocational education and improvement of its quality. National Skill Development Mission (NSDM) has also recognized the demand for employment-oriented vocational education programmes with provision for hands-on training. In order to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend, it is critical to align vocational education within the composite framework of secondary schooling. 

The curriculum should have modules on literacy numeracy, communication skills, entrepreneurship and other skills relevant to work place requirements. There should be emphasis on development of generic and multiple skills so that persons may respond to changes in technology and market demands. Generic skills that cut across a number of occupations would enable an individual to transfer from one field to another during his/her working life. Other features must include compulsory partnership with employers who could provide trainers and arrange for internships, give advice on curricula, and participate in assessment and certification.  

Improved training and skill development is critical for providing decent employment opportunities to the growing youth population and necessary to sustain the high growth momentum. Although institutional structure has been put in place, there is still a long way to go. While skill formation has to be mainstreamed in the formal education system right from class X onwards, skill creation outside the formal education needs coordinated action and innovative approach. National Skill Development Mission launched in the Eleventh Plan has brought about a paradigm shift in handling skill development programmes, has clearly defined core principles and put in place a Coordinated Action Plan for Skill Development. 

A three-tier institutional structure is already in place for the purpose. This lays down a solid foundation for a skills ecosystem in the country. During the Twelfth Plan, gaps in skills ecosystem have to be identified and plugged, while building on the foundation that has been laid. An important tier of the Coordinated Action Plan for Skill Development, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) has already made significant progress and bulk of such skill formation targeted particularly at the large unorganized sector will come through NSDC interventions and initiatives at the State level. For this, support to NSDC would have to be significantly enhanced and State Skill Development Missions in all States would have to be fully operational and effective during the Twelfth Plan.  

There is a need for concerted action in several key areas in order to ensure that skill formation takes place in a demand driven manner. Curriculum for skill development has to be reoriented on a continuing basis to meet the demands of the employers/industry and align it with the available self-employment opportunities. Accreditation and certification system has to be improved. There is a need to establish an institutional mechanism for providing access to information on skill inventory and skill maps on a real time basis. A sectoral approach is required for the purpose with special emphasis on those sectors that have high employment potential. Standards may be set by the industry-led sector skill councils which must be made effective during the Twelfth Plan, while the accreditation of certification processes should be done by independent, specialized agencies with certification left to the institutions. Skill Development Centres can be established in existing education and training institutions. This would ensure huge saving in cost and time. A system of funding poor people for skill development through direct financial aid or loan also needs to be put in place. Apprenticeship training as another mode for on-job training has to be remodelled to make it more effective and upscaled significantly. 

Finally, vocational education at the school level and vocational training through Indus trial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Industrial Training Centres (ITCs) need significant expansion and overhaul. There is an urgent need to revisit the scheme for upgradation of government ITIs as Centres of Excellence through the PPP to implement it more effectively during the Twelfth Plan. There is a need for establishing flexible learning pathways integrated to schooling on one end and higher education on the other through National Vocational Education Qualification Framework (NVEQF). Public- Private Partnerships in financing, service delivery, and provision of workspaces and training of trainers should be promoted. Employment exchanges can be repositioned as outreach points. There is a need for removal of entry-barriers to private participation, while putting in place an effective regulatory framework for coordinating the network of Private players, as also for monitoring, evaluating and analyzing outcomes of various programmes. All these issues have received thoughtful consideration during the Eleventh Plan; now operational details have to be worked out and specific initiatives launched during the Twelfth Plan. 

Vocational education at the secondary level would be aligned with skills training under the Ministry of Labour through Industrial Training Centres and modular training programmes as well as short-term training provided through National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC). Skills training under the JSS and NGO schemes of Adult Education programmes would be aligned with the framework for vocational education at the secondary level. In order to roll out these skills programmes, a massive effort would be needed for professional development of school leadership, master faculty trainers, inspectors, test evaluators and counsellors. Appropriate institutional arrangements with linkage to NSDC for capacity development for professional certification and accreditation systems for institutions should also be put in place.  

Improved training and skill development is critical for providing decent employment opportunities to the growing youth population and necessary to sustain the high growth momentum. Although institutional structure has been put in place, there is still a long way to go. There is a need for concerted action in several key areas in order to ensure that skill formation takes place in a demand driven manner. Curriculum for skill development has to be reoriented on a continuing basis to meet the demands of the employers/industry and align it with the available self-employment opportunities. 

Renewed Focus on Vocational Education-Policy Directions in the Twelfth Plan: 

Vocational education at the secondary stage provides for diversification of educational opportunities so as to enhance individual employability, reduce the mismatch between demand and supply of skilled manpower and provide an alternative for those pursuing higher education. Hence, it is important and would be implemented from class IX onwards, unlike the present provision for its implementation from class XI, and would be subsumed under RMSA. Vocational Education courses will be based on National Occupation Standards (NOS) brought out by the Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) that determine the minimum levels of competencies for various vocations. Academic qualifications would be assessed and certified by educational bodies and vocational skills would be assessed and certified by respective SSCs. In the twelfth Plan , a mechanism would be created for convergence of vocational courses offered by various ministries, private initiatives and vocational education institutions, and use schools as the outlet for vocational education of young people. A comprehensive repertoire of vocational courses, duration of each course, equipment and facilities, costs and agencies will be developed. Like Germany and many other industrialized countries, the repertoire should have modular courses, which allow exit and entry into the job market and further. 

Salient Components of the Revised Scheme of Vocational Education at Higher Secondary Stage: 

The scheme of vocational stream at the +2 stage, launched in 1988 and revised in 1992– 93, was continued after further revision in 2011. Despite massive infrastructure of 21000 Sections in over 10000 schools with vocational streams catering to over 1 million students, only about 4.8 percent of all students are enrolled in the vocational streams, as per an evaluation study carried out in 1995-96, against a target of covering 25 percent of such students. About 28 percent of Vocational pass outs were employed/self-employed and 38.3 percent vocational pass outs were pursuing higher studies. The process for revamping of the scheme of vocational education at the secondary and higher secondary stage has already been initiated. 

This is primarily meant for offering VE in Classes XI-XII. The changes in the revised scheme have incorporated the nuances of NVEQF. The revised scheme will assist VE from Class IX (level 1 of NVEQF) across the country. Suitable test of competencies in literacy & numeracy will have to be undertaken by all students at the end of 8th grade, which would be used as a selection criterion for further education. The processes would be in compliance with RTE Act, 2009 for students desirous of entering level 1 of NVEQF. The introduction of VE from Class IX and the preparation of syllabi will have to be developed in consonance with the endorsement by CABE on 7.6.2011 for extending RTE to Class X. 


-To impart training in simple marketable skills to students in Class IX & X.
-To develop vocational interests and aptitudes.
-To facilitate students in making choice of vocational courses in Classes XI-XII.
-To prepare students for participation in work as a desired dimension of education.
-To inculcate healthy values related to work culture.
-To provide linkage to higher education after completion of Class XII. 

The revised scheme is now aligned with NVEQF to create clear educational pathways from school to higher education level and provide more options to students to choose vocational modules depending on their aptitude and economic requirements. The revised scheme has been designed to address the weaknesses identified in the current system of vocational education. The salient components of the revised scheme include : 

-Strengthening of existing schools imparting vocational education;
-Establishing new schools through State Governments;
-In-service teacher training of seven days for existing VE teachers;
-30-day induction course for new VE teachers;
-Development of competency based modules for each individual vocational course;
-Provision of assistance to run vocational schools under PPP mode and support to reputed NGOs for carrying out short duration innovative vocational education programmes;
-Mandatory revision in curriculum once in three years to ensure that the curriculum is guided by needs of the industry;
-Establishment of a separate vocational cell within Central Board of Secondary Education; and
-All the components and activities would be guided by t h e National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF).

A separate pilot programme within the NVEQF has been launched in Haryana, Assam, West Bengal and Karnataka are also in the process of launching a pilot. Based on the learning from the pilot, this would be scaled up in the Twelfth Plan. An MIS and web portal on vocational education will be set up to share best practices and experiences. Haryana has launched a pilot for introducing vocational education under NVEQF in 40 pilot schools in eight districts. The salient features of the pilot project on Vocational Education under NVEQF are as under: 

-Each of the pilot schools offer two vocational subjects out of IT/ITES, Retail, Automobile and Security. These would be started from Class 9 and Class XI.
-The Curriculum has been designed by the respective Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) under NSDC. The content has been created by PSSCIVE, CBSE a n d Wadhwani foundation.

-Teachers have been recruited on a contract basis, and have undergone training in pedagogy and domain skills. Principals of schools have undergone orientation.
-Each school has a vocational coordinator to create and nurture linkages of local
industry and business with the school and its students. They will also facilitate guest lectures, industry visits and placements.

-Assessment will be done by Board of School Education Haryana and assessors of respective SSC.  

Based on the learning from the pilot(s), a possible road map could be to expand the coverage of vocational education from 2013–14 to about 400 schools in Haryana. The number of courses offered could be increased from 8 to 10 and pilots will be started during 2013–14 in all States which show interest. States which manage the pilot successfully could expand the coverage in year 2014–15 to about ten times the number of schools covered under pilot. A nodal resource centre could be created at the national level to support the State Governments. 

The approach so far has been to create stand-alone vocational education facilities. The need of the hour is that secondary schools in every panchayat can be used for vocational training outside the school hours. A formal system of vocational education certification needs to be evolved to certify students and youths to acquire skills through this method. This would require adequate and suitable infrastructure to impart the vocational training.  

Students pursuing vocational courses at +2 level would be provided facilities for apprenticeship training under the Apprenticeship Act. While skill formation has to be mainstreamed in the formal education system right from class IX onwards, skill creation outside the formal education system needs coordinated action and innovative approaches. A VE cell has been established within the CBSE. The States would also be encouraged and supported to set up similar cells in the State Boards and encourage students to take vocational courses along with academic courses either as combination subjects or additional subjects, and allow credit accumulation and transfer on the pattern of CBSE-NIOS collaboration. The National and State Boards would draw up a detailed scheme of evaluation with respective SSCs to enable competency-based assessment of students. As the course design and TLM development get decentralized, PSSCIVE, the expert central institution, should be elevated for quality assurance
in vocational education. 

Pandit Sunderlal Sharma Central Institute of Vocational Education (PSSCIVE) in collaboration and partnership with State Boards/CBSE/Experts will develop exemplar competency based curricula with inputs from industry, business organisation, agricultural initiatives for contextualization and localization of content by States. Competency based curricula will be adopted/ adapted by Central/State Boards of Education. Each curriculum will have to meet national standards for competencies and other applicable norms set by SSCs. 

The aim is to increase the percentage of the workforce which has received formal skills through vocational education and training from 12.0 percent at present to 25.0 percent by the end of the Twelfth Plan. This would mean that about 70 million more people have to be imparted formal skills in the next five years. 

By : Raman P Singh The author is a Dy Adviser (HRD), Planning Commission.


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