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Vocational Education & Training in India

Vocational Education and Training in India

Mitakshara Kumari

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Vocational Education & Training in India

Introduction

The training provided in the vocational education and training (VET) institutions in India

is not aligned to the demand for skills from the labour market. Evidence for this

mismatch exists in the projected skill shortages for different sectors of the economy on

the one hand, and the high unemployment level of VET graduates on the other. Industry

surveys such as the ‘Survey on emerging skill shortages in the Indian Industry (2007)

conducted by FICCI show that significant skill gaps exist in key sectors like food

processing, retail, health, pharmaceuticals, education, textiles, mining, and automotive

(FICCI, 2007, Pg 3-12). A study by KPMG on skill gaps in the automotive industry

showed that employers point to the lack of right skill sets, especially at the supervisor and

technician level as a key issue in their manpower planning (KPMG, 2008, Pg 8). The

National Skill Development Corporation of India in its assessment of skill requirements

of the organized retail sector projects that in the retail sector alone, there will be a

requirement of an additional 17 million people by 2022. Of this 17 million about 70% of

the requirement will be for Level I and Level II skills which are typically provided

through short-term vocational courses. (NSDC, 2012, Pg 44-46)

While national level tracer studies tracking graduates of VET are not readily available, an

efficiency study of training institutes in 3 large Indian states of Orissa, Maharashtra, and

Andhra Pradesh done by the International Labour Organization (ILO) revealed that in

Andhra Pradesh 33% of graduates from public training institutions and over 70% of the

graduates

from

private

institutions

were

unemployed

(ILO,

2003,

Pg

XV).

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Vocational Education & Training in India

Unemployment among VET graduates in Maharashtra was between 23-27% (ILO, 2003,

Pg XV). The National Sample Survey data on the Status of Education and Vocational

Training revealed that the percentage of VET graduates is the highest in the unemployed

category (about11%) and only about 3% of those who are employed have had any kind of

vocational training (NSSO, 2006, p 42-43). Further only about 2-3% of all persons

between the age of 15-29 years had received or were currently receiving formal

vocational training, another 8% reported having received non formal vocational training.

Thus only about 10-12% of the labour force has had any kind of vocational training.

Over the last decade or so there has been a growing realization that if India is to truly

leverage the advantage of its demographic dividend- namely the over 600 million young

people under the age of 24 (UNFPA, 2011, p 11)- it needs to create a massive drive for

building adequate skills. In the absence of appropriate education and training that allows

these young people to be engaged in productive work, the demographic dividend might

well be a social and economic liability. The gross enrollment ratio in higher education in

India stood at only 13.7% as of 2008-09. (Ministry of Human Resource Development

(MHRD), Government of India, 2008-09). Further over 52% of those who enroll in

school in grade 1 drop out after grade 10 (Government of India, Select Education

Statistics, 2009-10, p 60). Thus we know that a large number of young people do not

continue into higher education and drop out of the general education system for different

reasons. It is in this context that addressing the skill mismatch has become an urgent

priority for the country. A range of factors such as the level and nature of economic

growth, existing labour laws, and other macroeconomic conditions, in addition to the

education and training infrastructure, determine the prospects of meaningful employment,

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Vocational Education & Training in India

and can act as levers to address this mismatch. In this paper I will focus primarily on

strategies as they apply to the education and training system, demand side interventions

like macroeconomic adjustments, reform of labour laws, and correcting structural

imbalances in the economy are beyond the scope of this paper, though I will briefly

examine them in subsequent sections.

The Vocational Education and Training Landscape in India

An overview of the vocational education and training landscape in India outlining some

of the key features, organizational structures and stakeholders is essential for better

understanding the context in which VET operates in India. VET is primarily provided at

2 levels:

School Level Vocational Education: Since 1988, the Ministry of Human Resource

Development (MHRD), has provided for vocational education instruction in secondary

schools as an alternative to the general higher education stream through a federal scheme

called Vocationalization of Secondary Education. The program provides 2-year courses

in 150 different vocational subjects in grades XI and XII with the objective of providing

employable skills to students. According to MHRD in 2010-11 over 21000 sections were

created in 9619 schools with a capacity for 1 million students. (MHRD, 2010-11). The

National Policy on Education (NPE) had envisaged that 25% (NPE, 1992) of all

secondary school students would be enrolled in the vocational stream by 2000, however

according to Planning Commission of India less than 5% of students are enrolled in this

stream (Planning Commission, 2011). A number of reasons are responsible for this low

level of uptake- poor quality, lack of relevance and no clear linkage to employment

opportunities to name a few.

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Vocational Education & Training in India

Non

school

based

Vocational

Education

and

Training:

Post

school

vocational

education is provided through diploma programs at Polytechnics in different vocational

and engineering disciplines. Vocational Training is the primary responsibility of the

Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGET), at the Ministry of Labour &

Employment and is provided through 2 kinds of schemes: the Craftsmen Training

Scheme (CTS), and the Apprenticeship Training Scheme (ATS). Courses under these

schemes are typically of 1 to 2 year duration and entry is based on scores obtained in the

school leaving exam between Class 8 to Class 12. Craftsmen training is provided either at

Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) run by the government, or privately managed

Industrial

Training

Centres

(ITCs)

that

are

recognized

by

the

government.

The

Apprenticeship training Scheme regulated by the Apprenticeship Act 1961 provides for

training at the work place in various public and private industry firms. Currently there are

about 2140 Government ITIs and 6166 Pvt. ITCs providing training in 114 trades for

school leavers (Directorate General for Employment & Training, Government of India,

2012).

The Ministry of Labour has also initiated an ambitious Modular Employable Skills

programme to provide short term module based vocational courses to trainees using both

government and private infrastructure. These shorter duration courses were unique in not

stipulating a course duration but were instead based on defined competencies for different

jobs and did not require prior formal education as a prerequisite. Assessment is conducted

by empanelled testing bodies, who are independent of the training providers to ensure

reliability. MES also provides opportunity for multi entry and exit and recognizes prior

experience of people engaged in different skills. As of 2012, 1402 modules covering

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more than 60 sectors have been developed, and about 1.4 million people have been

trained or tested. MES was designed keeping in mind the training needs of the large

informal sector (Planning Commission, 2012, Pg 142).

Another key recent development in the VET space in India has been the notification of a

National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) in September 2012.

The NVQEF lays down an integrated framework that recognizes different levels of skills

and qualifications across vocational and general education. Through this framework, the

government hopes to ‘provide for multiple pathways both within vocational education

and between general and vocational education to link one level of learning to another

higher level and enable learners to progress to higher levels from any starting point in the

education

and/or

skill

system’

(MHRD,

Government

of

India,

2012,Pg3).

The

qualifications for each job role would be based on ‘Notified Occupational Standards’

NOS, developed by Sector Skills Councils (SSC) to be set up by the National Skill

Development Corporation.

The National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) at the federal level and the State

Councils for Vocational Training (SCVT) at the advise the federal and state governments

on curricula, standards, affiliation and also conducts exams to provide the National Trade

Certificate and National Apprentice Certificates. A number of other ministries and

government bodies also provide vocational training in their specific sectors including

Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, Health, Textiles, IT etc.

With skill development being articulated as a major thrust area, in 2009 a National Policy

on

Skill

Development

laid

down

the

target

of

training

500

million

people

by

2022(National Policy on Skill Development, 2009). Key entities involved in the training

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space were assigned specific targets to meet the overall objective. It was also recognized

that a coordinated effort would be essential to meet this ambitious target and to that end

under the National Skill Development Mission a three tier framework was proposed to

provide coherence to the system. At the highest level the Prime Minister’s Council on

Skill Development comprising of experts in the field of skill was responsible for setting

the overall policy agenda and guiding the implementation of existing schemes. The

National Skill Development Coordination Board is responsible for operationalizing the

policy and coordinating implementation with different ministries and state governments

while the National Skill Development Corporation was created with a mandate of

leveraging the private sector to create new models of skill development to significantly

increase the current capacity.

Causes

The argument for aligning VET to the demands of the market, can be placed within a

wider context of a debate on the relevance and purpose of education systems in general in

the 21 st century. The school based education system, many believe is no longer relevant

as it was created to respond to the needs of the industrial economy of the 18 th and 19 th

centuries. The skill mismatch debate is the more acute and apparent version of this

debate, because the primary purpose of VET is to train people for jobs.

Given India’s

context as a developing country with a large young population the issue of mismatch

between supply and demand of skills is particularly acute, however a number of

developed and transition economies are also affected by it.

One reason for this

phenomenon seems to be the increased focus on skills in new knowledge based

industries,

rapid

globalization,

upward

technology

bias,

and

the

resultant

new

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Vocational Education & Training in India

organizational structures and work cultures which lead to new kinds of jobs that require a

wider and more adaptable range of skills. (ILO, 2000, Pg 3) Providing evidence of the

impact of technology on the nature of jobs, authors Autor, Katz and Kearney show that

the two tailed polarization of employment growth in US in the 1990s can be attributed to

technological change. They argue that during the 1990s high skill and low skill jobs

showed high and modest growth respectively while the middle skill, middle wage routine

jobs were hollowed out because they were replaced by computerization (Autor, Katz &

Kearney, 2006, Pg 191).

In India these exogenous changes and upward technology bias

has come into play at a time when a large percentage of the population has low levels of

basic education, and continues to depend on the agriculture sector. Countries as they

move on their development trajectories, typically begin with agriculture as a dominant

sector employing the largest proportion of the population and contributing significantly to

the GDP, subsequently the share of manufacturing increases shifting the labour force

with it and finally the service sector becomes dominant. In India however the agriculture

sector still employs close to 50% of the population and while manufacturing and services

have grown rapidly they have not been able to increase their share of labour force

participation due to various reasons. The training systems designed for an anticipated

labour intensive industrial growth thus churn out graduates whose skills are no longer in

demand. A survey conducted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce &

Industry (FICCI) in 2006 on‘The state of Industrial Training Institutes in India’ showed

that a majority of the ITIs offered courses in basic industrial trades like electricians,

welding, fitting, and very few ITIs offered courses in the newer trades like commerce,

insurance, and IT services and consequently struggle to fill their seats. (FICCI, 2006, p9)

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Key Policy Choices

Vocational Education & Training in India

Strategies to address this skill mismatch are at the forefront of national and global efforts

to address the challenge of building a 21 st century workforce and could provide valuable

lessons for India. The alternatives presented below are constructed from the point of view

of presenting a set of options for policymakers to choose from, as the focus of a

comprehensive

skill

development

strategy

that

meets

several

key

criteria

namely

efficiency, equity, implementation feasibility and finally robustness of the solution.

Increasing private participation in VET in the current framework

Increasing private participation to make vocational education more attuned to industry

demand is the first set of strategies that countries adopt in order to address a perceived

skill gap. The objective is to move from input based supply oriented systems to outcome

based demand driven systems (King & Palmer, 2010, Pg71). This has often meant

involving the private sector more effectively both in directly providing training and in the

management and governance of public training institutions. The rationale behind this set

of strategies is that publicly provided training is frequently out of touch with the demands

of the labour market and often churns out graduates who are trained in outdated and

outmoded tools and technologies which are often obsolete. The way to make VET more

demand focused and responsive to the market is to involve private players and potential

employers themselves in the training effort in a number of ways:

i. Provide incentives to industry to undertake training themselves in areas of interest

to them. This has been done in multiple ways in different countries- in Singapore

the government offered key incentives to foreign firms to establish training

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Vocational Education & Training in India

centres in partnership with the government. The German firm Rollie was granted

a right of refusal for 10 years on many of the products it manufactured. (Kuruvilla

et al, 2001, Pg 8). In another example of encouraging private firms to invest in

training the Singapore government created the Skill Development Fund (SDF)

whereby employers had to invest 1% of the gross salary of all employees earning

less than $1000 in the fund. They could recoup 80% of their investment by

applying for training grants that gave preferences for training employees in skills

that were in high demand or training plans covering more than 50% of the

employees (Kuruvilla et al, 2001, Pg11). In India private enterprise based training

has been led by large corporations across the manufacturing and service sectors,

this

includes

training

provided

by

companies

like

Larsen

and

Toubro

in

construction, Godrej in electronics goods, Maruti Suzuki in automotive sector,

Infosys in IT and ITES, ITC in retail etc (Ernst &Young, 2011, Pg29/30).

However, these efforts are more in response to in house skill shortages than any

direct incentives from the government.

A limitation of this kind of training is that only large companies for whom it is

cost effective to provide training are willing to undertake it while small and

medium scale enterprises have little ability to do so and suffer from a shortage of

trained workers. This has implications for access and equity as the bulk of the

employment

will

continue

in

small

and

medium

scale

enterprises.

In

the

Singapore model first the government could offer tangible incentives like right of

refusal, which in most political contexts, and certainly in India are not necessarily

feasible. Similarly a Skill Development Fund might place a burden on small and

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medium scale enterprises and coupled with the stringent labour laws in India

could well push the industry further towards a technology intensive production

model.

ii. Greater participation of private players in setting and designing curricula, and in

the management and governance of public training institutions. (ILO, 2000, Pg

15)

Another way to increase private participation in the skills space has been through

greater involvement of private players in the management and governance of

public training institutions. In India this has been attempted through the creation

of Institutional Managing Committees that are aimed at involving employers in

the management of the industrial training institutes.

However without any

effective power and autonomy this has been more in form than in spirit. Industry

associations like the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and Federation of

Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) have been pushing for

greater powers for these IMCs, as thus far they have not had enough autonomy to

make any real difference in the way public VET is provided. (World Bank, 2006,

Pg 39)

iii. The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in India has focused on yet

another model for creating effective partnerships with private players for skill

building by stimulating a private training industry through incentives. In this

model

the

NSDC

supports

proposals

from

private

providers

that

propose

innovative solution and outline a scalable skill development plan addressing the

skill needs of priority sectors identified by NSDC. This includes rural BPOs as

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well as hi tech sectors. However this effort is still nascent and it is too early to say

any whether any of the initiatives supported by NSDC will go to a scale that can

make a significant impact.

Other efforts to make training demand focused have included initiatives in collaboration

with agencies like the World Bank where 500 industrial training institutes (ITIs) have

been identified for up gradation as centres of excellence’ with close linkage with

Industry and greater autonomy for the IMCs to design curricula and programs.

Limitations:

- The idea of having more private participation to make training more responsive to

the needs of the labour market quite often is indisputable, but the difficulty is in

working out and implementing the specific modalities under which effective

partnerships between the private and public sectors can be forged. In some

countries

like

India

with

weak

delivery

systems

implementation

is

a

key

challenge. How does one ensure that private participation in providing training is

effective? As Kuruvilla et al point out the highly contextual factors in Singapore

that made the collaboration between private players and the government work, in

terms of the unique institutional arrangements and the very organic processes of

communication and collaboration, might not be easy to replicate or transfer

(Kuruvilla et al, 2001, Pg 26).

- In making training infrastructure demand driven there may be a tradeoff with

equity as the demand most often considered for formal VET is the demand from

the organized formal sector and given that over 90% of the Indian work force is in

the informal sector we must take into consideration the training needs of the

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informal sector which are often different from the formal sector. (King & Palmer,

2010, Pg 75).

-

None of the strategies under this category significantly address the training needs

of the informal structure.

Move towards competency based training

A Competency Based Training (CBT) framework focuses on mastering key competencies

identified as essential to functional roles, instead of relying on time bound training plans.

Taking a broad functional view of competencies, as it originated in the United Kingdom,

a competency may be defined as “the group of skills and knowledge which are applied in

order to carry out a task or function, in accordance with the requirements imposed by the

job.” (Tippelt, 2003, Pg 9)

Reflecting the evolution in the demand for qualifications different models of competency

based training are increasingly being discussed in the context of vocational education.

The Australian vocational education and training system is often seen as a successful

model of the competency based training framework. Australia moved towards a CBT

framework starting in the 1980s. Competencies are based on national standards identified

by the industry. These competencies are delivered via training packages comprising of a

set of competency standards and qualifications as developed by the industry. Training

Packages are reviewed every 3 years to ensure that they remain current and are a key

resource for all stakeholders including the registered training providers, employers and

students (NCVER, 2007, Pg 5). Over 80% of the occupations in Australia are covered by

the VET competencies and qualifications. (OECD, 2008, Pg9). In addition the Australia

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Quality Training Framework provides a comprehensive national framework recognizing

different

levels

of

qualifications

across

training

and

education

systems

and

their

relationship to each other, thereby allowing for horizontal and vertical mobility.

Many European countries as well as United States are moving towards a competency

based framework in their training strategies. A key advantage of the CBT framework is

that since the competencies are based on standards defined by the industry the mapping to

industry demand is institutionalized, and is a strong driving force for curriculum

development. Thus it addresses the key problem of lack of relevance of training to

industry demand. It also provides a transparent way of measuring outcomes and is in

keeping with an international trend towards competency based approaches in education

and training across the board. The system would be responsive to changes because

changes may be factored in by updating a competency or a particular module. For eg if

the new standard in industry practice requires that hotel front desk staff should have first

aid knowledge, the training package for the front desk staff could be updated to add a

module on first aid. This will facilitate continuous up grading of skills as well as pre

service training. This model can serve the delivery of VET through both public and

private providers and can potentially undergird the current infrastructure of VET in India.

It could also potentially target the informal sector as competencies on livelihood skills

could also be defined, as on entrepreneurship education. Flexibility is ensured, which is

essential in a country like India and the lack of which is a big part of why the current

framework is not effective.

Research on the impact of CBT in Australia has shown that the system has been most

successful in ensuring relevance of skills by institutionalizing the role of industry in the

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development of curriculum, however the implementation has remained a challenge and

the adoption is uneven. Further according to some studies the CBT approach seems to

work best for entry level routine jobs because they are best served by the modularization,

however at a higher level the modularization might lead to fragmentation (NCVER, 2000,

Pg 3,4). Other limitations of the CBT approach include its relative complexity and

difficulty of administration, as well as a reliance on skilled teachers.

In India the Modular Employable Skills initiative and the National Skill Development

Corporation’s efforts to set up of sector skills councils to define occupational standards

points in the direction of a competency based approach. Under the MES scheme

spearheaded by Ministry of Labour and Employment short duration competency based

courses are provided by registered Vocational Training Providers (VTPs) who can be

either

public

or

private

institutions.

(Planning

Commission,

GoI,

2012,

Pg146).

Assessment in this approach is conducted independently by empanelled assessment

agencies,

thus

separating

the

provision

promoting accountability.

of

training

from

assessment

and

thereby

Tie VET reform with General Education Reform

A key consideration in many countries has been the nature and combination of general

and vocational education required to best serve the skill needs of the country. According

to Malamud and Pop-Eleches the German system can be seen as exemplifying a reliance

on a well defined vocational education system focused on specific training, that was

instrumental in driving the post World War II German growth. On the other hand United

States showed impressive growth through the 1980s and 1990s in the context of rapid

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technological change, which can in part be attributed to its flexible general education.

Citing several other key studies the authors conclude that the rate of technological change

is an important consideration in determining which form of education would be dominant

(Malamud & Pop-Eleches, 2006, Pg1,2). Thus it would appear that now more than ever

with jobs demanding both more adaptability rather than simply knowledge of a narrow

set of skills and greater specialization in higher order skills, general education instead of

vocational training should be the focus to prepare the workforce. Given the rapidly

changing economic environment the general education system could itself have to

consider incorporating what are identified as 21 st century skills that include a focus on

critical

thinking,

problem

solving,

and

communication.

This

could

entail

reduced

spending on VET especially at the school level and a focus on general education.

This strategy has considerable limitations in terms of political feasibility in a country like

India. Successive governments have articulated the need for adequate skilling as a key

way to reap the demographic dividend, creating a discourse counter to that will be

politically unviable. Further though research might support the idea that VET at the

school level does not seem to contribute to the employability of students, the very high

drop out rate at the secondary level is a significant problem to be kept in mind. An

alternative to general education must therefore remain available for those who drop out

because of the lack of relevance of the regular curriculum.

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The way forward in the Indian context

Vocational Education & Training in India

Of the three alternatives for policy focus outlined above, the first one is broadly the

direction in which VET reform efforts in India are directed currently. However because

of the limitations I have set out in terms of the difficulty in ensuring effective private

participation in the existing framework of a government controlled VET the impact will

remain limited. In addition we will continue to keep the informal sector out, because the

demand we are addressing is of select industry players who have the capacity to be

involved in this process. Thus in making VET demand driven we have to consider whose

demand is being addressed because if it is necessarily the formal sector then 90% of the

people may still remain out of its ambit. Therefore, though strategies to increase private

participation in the design and delivery of VET are feasible in terms of implementation

and have political buy in, it is not necessarily a robust solution because it does not

address the root cause of the problem at a structural level. The countries where such close

steering by the government has succeeded in ensuring private participation, have many

contextual specificities which are not easily transferable to the Indian context, as we saw

in the case of Singapore.

In the long term the solution that would yield the best results by overcoming the divide

between vocational and general education, is

tying up VET reform with general

education reform and orienting both towards a 21 st century paradigm of teaching and

learning. This will provide all students with transferable skills as well as specific higher

order knowledge, to succeed in the new jobs and organizational culture of the 21 st

century. There are however two main reasons why such an approach would not be

feasible in the Indian context- firstly as noted earlier, the skill development discourse in

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India has taken on a political colour and any effort to reduce focus on VET could be seen

as a step backwards. Further given the reality that over 50% of students who enroll in

grade 1, drop out by grade 10, vocational education at the school level must remain

available as an option for some.

The move towards a CBT system, supported by a national qualifications framework thus

emerges as a robust solution in addressing the core of the problem- namely a mismatch

between skills demanded by industry and skills provided in VET institutions. This

mismatch, coupled with an absence of vertical and horizontal mobility, often makes

vocational education and training a dead end and therefore not an attractive proposition.

The CBT approach institutionalizes the involvement of the private sector and thereby

addresses

the

skill

mismatch

problem

effectively,

while

a

national

qualifications

framework allows for multiple points of entry and exit and vertical and horizontal

mobility. Further the competency based approach has the capacity to be broadened to

include the informal sector, and can be responsive to changes in the market.

King and Palmer argue that NQFs are not always an appropriate policy choice especially

for developing countries because they are expensive to develop, take a long time to set up

and may ‘exceed local administrative capacity’. They argue that other interventions like

institutional development, curriculum development, staff development and industry

partnerships might be more suitable. (King & Palmer, 2010, Pg 80). The latter set of

interventions are broadly outlined in my first approach- namely building dynamic

successful partnerships with industry within the existing VET framework and following it

up with curriculum reform, capacity building and institutional development. However I

contend that

fundamentally reorienting

the institutional

culture of public delivery

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systems- that is ensuring that the public VET system in India controlled by an extensive

education bureaucracy becomes a dynamic, nimble organization capable of building

effective networks with the private sector, driving curricular reform and capacity building

through an intrinsic motivation is a far greater challenge. A competency based approach

focuses on a different lever of change and makes the entire system more standards based,

thus shifting the role of the government from the business of delivering training for which

it is ill equipped, to maintaining standards and regulating the VET space. Further India

has already invested time and resources in developing the National Vocational Education

Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) which is now operational, and has had some

experience of a competency based framework through the Modular Employable Skills

scheme. The other criticisms of the CBT approach namely that it leads to modularization

and fragmentation of learning and therefore might not serve diploma and higher level

courses, to my mind is not an argument against the CBT approach but a question of

evolving a better design for defining competencies and learning outcomes for these

higher level of courses through research on pedagogy and curriculum development. In the

past few decades general higher education systems too are moving towards a credit based

modular curriculum approach with precisely the same objectives as identified for CBT in

vocational education- namely to provide more flexibility, a transparent way to measure

performance against defined standards and to ensure relevance of education. Indeed a

comparison of the UK and US higher education systems reflects this trend in moving

towards a credit based modular approach. As Betts & Smith contend, through the 1990s

higher education institutions in the UK have been moving towards this credit based

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modular system, representing ‘a fundamental and revolutionary change to the higher

education curriculum’. (Betts & Smith, 1998, Pg 5)

The move to a competency based approach needs to be developed organically with a

focus on building capacity of the different stakeholders involved at every level. In

operationalizing this approach, one cannot assume that the existing VET framework will

be dismantled and replaced by CBT and thus at the outset multiple approaches will

operate simultaneously, with a clear goal of moving to a competency based approach in

the medium to long term. With the work of the National Skill Development Corporation

in working with the Sector Skills Councils to develop National Occupational Standards,

the putting in place of a NVEQF and the experience with the competency based Modular

Employable Schemes that can be continuously expanded, India is poised to create a shift

in the VET space over the long term.

However several key supporting frameworks will need to be put in place to ensure the

success of a competency based approach:

Capacity Building of Trainers: The success of the CBT depends greatly on how

trainers and teachers can weave together the modules, and competencies into a

unified learning framework. Therefore a move towards a competency based

framework will require significant capacity building of trainers to internalize the

basic principles of the approach and to adapt it to their specific situations in

different sectors and different geographies.

Performance Based Funding: It is envisaged in this system that both private and

public providers of VET will co-exist. Funding from the state of public as well as

private VET institutions should incorporate elements of a performance based

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system. Private VET institutions may be provided incentives and refunds if they

meet and exceed performance criteria both in terms of quantity and quality.

Incorporation of apprenticeships/traineeships: Apprenticeships and on the job

training would need to be incorporated in the CBT framework, by specifying the

competencies and outcome indicators for skills learned at the work place.

Creating a Vocational Education Research Centre: Research on the evolving VET

landscape, in terms of the practice and pedagogy of VET will be critical to ensure

that the competency based curriculum is consistently able to meet the evolving

needs of vocational education and training. Issues such as those outlined below

must be studied systematically and the research must inform the practice of VET

in the country:

- improving and integrated CBT with developing 21 st century skills

- the mix of general and job specific skills required to succeed in the

economy today,

- packaging diploma and higher level of vocational courses in terms of

learning modules

- scope for lifelong learning and continuing education opportunities

- Better information and management system for VET

Improved Information and Management System for VET: To ensure that training

is aligned to labour market demand, an effective information and management

system is critical. The Indian government has often been criticized for not

performing its core function of capturing and disseminating adequate data and

information on key parameters to help students access appropriate training

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opportunities on the one hand and support employers in employing adequately

trained personnel. An advanced Labour Management Information System (LMIS)

is therefore essential to create a range of information outputs that will create more

transparency and accountability in the system. (IL0, 2000, Pg 18)

A strategy for moving towards a competency based framework that incorporates some of

these critical features would, I believe go a long way towards ensuring that VET is able

to keep pace with the changing demand from the industry. At the same time public

resources and managerial expertise could be redirected away from actual provision to

regulating the system and ensuring standards are current and adhered to. The following

are the major benefits of such a system:

- More flexibility in curricular reform with involvement from industry

- Level playing field for public and private providers of VET

- Funding of institutions based on performance

- Flexibility in location of training

- More vertical and horizontal mobility

- Can potentially cater to the needs of the informal sector

- Recognizes previously held expertise of informal workers

- Allows for multi entry and multi exit

- Allows for up-skilling, professional development, and continuing and lifelong

learning as well as pre service training within the same framework.

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Conclusion

A VET strategy based on a coherent competency based approach, undergirded by a

national qualification framework, robust information management systems, capacity

building of trainers and informed by research, could potentially lead the way in education

reform in India by demonstrating how education systems must adapt to the changing

demands of society in the 21 st century. In the competency based approach we have the

opportunity to create an education system that prepares us for the unique needs of the

next century. This approach has significant implications for our understanding of

continuous skill up-gradation, training and retraining of the workforce and lifelong

learning. As Clayton Christensen suggests that innovation rarely occurs where an

established framework works reasonably well- that is where one consumption pattern is

dominant, it usually occurs where no solution path dominates- that is in a context of

relative ‘non consumption’. India is at a critical juncture in its effort to leverage the so

called demographic dividend and meet the skill needs not only of itself but of the world,

the existing VET framework has been found to be extremely inadequate in meeting this

ambitious goal, and has therefore given us an opportunity to innovate with how training

can be delivered for educating a 21 st century work force.

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