By Anindya Mallick
Transforming the Education and Skill Development sectors should be an area of key focus as a policy direction in the upcoming budget. With the changing landscape of manufacturing and services on account of adopting Industry 4.0 – with increased automation using cognitive technologies – the expertise and skill requirement is ever-changing. The global trends in education are about lifelong learning and upskilling/reskilling so that the workforce is aligned to the market needs.
As part of the transformation, the education and skill development sectors would need to be enabled to make the required changes so that the persons coming out of the system are not only employable, but also adaptable to changes that the disruptions in technology and marketplaces bring their way in the future.
The findings of the recent Annual Survey of Education Report 2018 has highlighted that most students are not able to read or do basic math expected at their level. This shows the quality of teaching and the learning ecosystem needs significant improvement. The recent removal of the no-detention clause in Right to Education Act is seen to be a step in the right direction.
In the interim Budget, the outlay for the National Education Mission has been increased by over 19 per cent to around Rs 38,500 cr with most of the allocation earmarked for centrally-sponsored schemes in school education. The current allocation is less than 3 per cent of the GDP, which is low compared to developed countries where it usually ranges between 5 to 7 per cent of GDP. There is a need to increase the allocation along with the following key measures:
– Teacher/ faculty training to develop and build capacity for addressing the current learning needs of students, and the ability to use modern tools & pedagogy to drive conceptual learning
– Improving facilities in institutions with the setting up smart classrooms, modern laboratories, research facilities, libraries, etc.
– Introducing mandatory student counselling with trained counsellors, who should be able to advise the students and their parents on career options and choices based on the students’ demonstrated aptitude and influence students to take up vocational training courses
– Provide options for pursuing vocational training after middle school (class 8) with defined course curriculum and apprenticeship arrangements with local industries like the model followed in countries like Germany
– In higher education, a restructuring of the course curriculum is needed to facilitate multi-disciplinary and research-oriented learning with foundations built for lifelong learning. This is likely to prepare the students with the capability to continuously update their expertise based on the ever changing workplace demands.
What Budget 2019 can do for skill development/ vocation training
In line with the changing industrial and services landscape, one’s skills need to be fungible. Skill development in the country needs transformation to address the industry requirements with mechanisms for upskilling and reskilling.
Some of the key measures that could be facilitated through the budget include:
– Skilling courses should be aligned to the industry requirement with standardised course curriculum should be followed by all vocational training institutes, in both public and private sectors. The courses should be in line with those developed by the concerned sector skill councils as per the National Skill Qualification framework along with the required facilities in terms of tool rooms, laboratories, etc.
– While guidelines for setting up Skill Universities in partnership with states have been published, there is a need to ensure that standardised course curriculum is followed so that graduating students are employable not only across the country but around the globe to make India a skill capital of the world
– Community colleges have been successfully established by NGOs in Tamil Nadu. The government should explore replicating the model across the country so that in association with local industries, the required multi-disciplinary skill sets are taught, which will increase the employability of the students.
– While industries have allocated a significant part of their CSR spend on setting up/ sponsoring vocational training institutes, they should also be encouraged to sponsor trainers/ teachers in the vocational training sector. There is a current dearth of quality teachers/ trainers which has been seen impacting the learning of students. Such sponsorship is expected to encourage suitable candidates to consider vocational training as a viable career option and is likely to significantly improve the quality of training.
The measures listed above could play a key role in transforming our skills and expertise base and align it with the industry’s current and future needs. With India’s aspirations to be among the top five economies in the world and to fuel its planned economic growth rates, the time for action is now.
Anindya Mallick is Partner, Deloitte India.