Vocational education may one day become as respectable as a degree.
A few years ago the airline industry in India literally took
off. It is still cruising along, doing reasonably well. Don’t let the fate of Kingfisher
mislead you. The air traffic recorded 8 % growth last month. More than 53 lakh people
travelled by air in January, and the Jet Airways group itself grew by 25%. Despite
this there is shortage of domestically trained pilots. So we have to import pilots.
Training facilities for flight attendants are not enough. So companies have to train
them on the job. Ground engineers are in short supply. There has been an upsurge
in air travel and growth in low cost airlines, but very few universities in India
offer a Bachelors degree in Aviation. Curriculum lags behind industrial demand.
This mismatch between courses offered in colleges, and actual demand out there is
quite pervasive, across various industries.
Large companies like Larsen and Toubro, complain about the shortage of skilled workers
like welders, electricians and carpenters. Many construction and industrial projects
have to go slow, not because of lack of steel or cement, but of skilled and semi-skilled
workers. This shortage will only get worse as GDP growth continues, and colleges
don’t adapt to emerging needs. One of the consequences will be the widening gap
between income of skilled and unskilled people, as the former start enjoying the
scarcity premium. The skills shortage doomsday scenario has been known for some
time. A national skills mission has been launched, and a National Skill Development
Corporation was set up with an objective of the skilling of (gasp) 500 million people
in the next ten years. There are already more than 9,000 technical institutes around
the country (of which 7,000 are in the private sector). These are popularly called
ITIs. So they do may make a dent. But the challenge is far too big. One of the challenges
is that skill acquisition is not seen as aspiration by the middle class.
If not an engineer or doctor, you want your kid to at least become an MBA or lawyer.
Even a media of BPO executive will do. But not a carpenter or plumber. A certainly
not welder. How does one make these professions respectable and inspirational? What
if there was a Bachelors degree attached to these professions, Which is exactly
the brainwave we need. It’s not an original idea and has been prevalent in countries
like Germany, Switzerland and Japan. As reported by the Times of India on 24thFriday,
the Universities Grants Commission, the national regulator gave its approval for
a Bachelor of Vocational Education (B.Voc.Ed.) degree. Colleges affiliated to any
university, which comes under the UGC can now offer a B.Voc.Ed. Just like a B.Sc,
B.Com or a B.A. Moreover a B.Voc.Ed. student can choose to move in an out of the
degree course, in case it does not suit him or her. Along with B.Voc.Ed. Is the
emergence of a system of community colleges which will come under either the UGC
or the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
The AICTE regulates the polytechnics, the ITIs and also the various part-time and
evening MBAs. The community colleges are aimed at students who clear 12th standard,
and who would want to acquire a B.Voc.Ed. (Under UGC), or a vocational skill (under
AICTE). Preference will be given to local students and the cut-off marks will be
lower than regular colleges of the University. All these developments aim to increase
the supply of skills training, and also close the perception gap between degree
and diploma holders. The new flexibility is also aimed at people who want to go
to college and also work, or others who want to enter, exit and re-enter college
at heir own pace. So after the Board exams look out for that college which is offering
B.Sc in Aviation. It’s taking off soon.
Courtesy: Times of India