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To make students future-ready

Vocational training

If there’s one quality recruiters look for in a candidate, it is a skill, making skilled workers the most sought after in the job market. But, as we know, skill is not something that can be acquired overnight. Skill comes with training. This is where vocational education comes into play. Yes, vocational education equips students with skills that make them job-ready. Practically-oriented, vocational education bridges the gap between academic education and industry demands. It is also a boon to students who are not academically inclined.

In India, though vocational education and training (VET) has been around for a long time now, it has not been very popular. There are several reasons for the same, including the fact that vocational education is largely seen as opted by ‘dull’ students, or by those from the socio-economically backward classes of society.

Imparted both as full-time and part-time courses, mostly to students in the industrial training institutes (ITIs) and state technical education boards, and also in institutes known popularly as polytechnics, vocational education is sought-after by students wanting to be job-ready immediately after their Class 10, and not wanting to spend many years in acquiring a college degree.

At one go

The duration of the course being just three years is an added advantage. Recognising the importance of VET, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has also introduced vocational education as part of the syllabus at the senior secondary level in fields as varied as commerce, engineering, tourism, agriculture, hospitality, health, home science, and the like. This is a welcome move and could go a long way in popularising VET among the youth.

Apart from this, the Government of India also offers several vocational training programmes, targeted at different groups of society. These include Udaan, Parvaaz, National Urban Livelihood Mission, Program of Support to Employment and Training, and so on. However, careful observation reveals that VET in India has failed to create skilled, employable job seekers as the courses are found to be ineffective and not directly linked to the industry.

In many other countries where VET is popular, the success of the system is majorly attributed to the fact that the course is purely skill-oriented, demand-driven and apprenticeship-based. Let’s take the case of Germany here, a country that takes pride in the fact that youth unemployment is low by international comparison owing to its highly successful dual vocational training system.

Under this system, training takes place, at once, in a company and a vocational training college, over a period of two to three-and-a-half years, combining both theory and practical know-how. No wonder, about two-thirds of students in Germany opt for dual vocational training programme after their compulsory schooling (Secondary 1) when they are around 15 years of age. At present, the figure stands at around 1.6 million. The process is quite simple. Students opting to go in for dual education system have to first decide what line of work suits them best from the list of 350 occupations that require vocational training.

Once the decision has been made, they have to look for a company in the online job markets for traineeships and apply for the same. On selection based on an interview, students spend a specified number of days at a vocational school acquiring theoretical knowledge, and the rest of the time at the company offering traineeship acquiring on-the-job training.

The division of time between the vocational school and the company varies from industry to industry. It could either be in terms of a certain number of days in a week, like two days at school and three days at the company, or several weeks at a stretch at school, followed by several weeks at the company.

The best part of this dual vocational training programme is that students get paid by the company for the duration of the course. The payment could be, on an average, around 908 Euros a month, depending on the course opted for, and the region. This salary increases with each year of training. Students are also entitled to an annual leave that can range from 24 days to four weeks.

The dual training programme is beneficial for both students and the industry as students earn as they learn, while the companies are ensured skilled workers who can add to the productivity of the company positively. 

The course syllabus of these programmes is also designed with care, keeping in mind the overall development of students. Under this system, students get to learn German, English and Social Studies, too, apart from core subjects that focus specifically on the occupation of their choice. Students will be assessed on the basis of two exams – held after the first half of the training programme, and on completion of training.

Owing to the bright employment prospects on completion of the course, dual vocational training programme in Germany is attracting a good number of overseas students, too, for whom the basic requirements to pursue the course are a valid visa, German language skills (as the medium of instruction and the exams are held in German language), and a school-leaving certificate that’s recognised in Germany.

Equality opportunity

These programmes start on August 1 or September 1 every year, and an aspirant needs to apply for traineeship well in advance as some companies advertise vacancies almost one year before the commencement of the course.

Since the dual vocational training system in Germany is based on equal partnership between the training schools and the employers, it enjoys a high level of acceptance.

It is for this very same reason, it is popular among countries looking to introduce similar systems to reduce youth unemployment and to ensure a skilled workforce.

However, for the dual vocational training system to be successful, especially in a country like ours, the rule of thumb is a course curriculum that resonates with the needs of the ever-changing job market, and better interaction between training schools and the employers. Can we make it happen in India? Well, that’s a million-dollar question to be resolved by the educational policymakers and the industry.

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