Important to blend skilling and education in schools: NSDC COO Ved Mani Tiwari on significance of vocational education

We spoke to the NSDC COO Ved Mani Tiwari on the need for vocational education at an early age, how it aligns with the National Educational Policy (NEP) 2020 and more
Pic: Edex Live
Pic: Edex Live

The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) in collaboration with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), recently launched the JuniorSkills Championship 2021 that is aimed at popularising vocational education at an elementary stage and helping in capacity building of trainers and subject matter experts. The first edition of the championship offers competition in 10 skills (vocational courses) and is open to students from Classes 6 to 12. The registrations had been extended until June 30 due to the pandemic scenario and it will be held virtually this year. We got a chance to speak to Ved Mani Tiwari, COO, National Skill Development Corporation India about the championship, the need for vocational education at an early age, how it aligns with the National Educational Policy (NEP) 2020, and more.

The championship has been envisioned in accordance with the latest National Education Policy 2020 wherein the emphasis has been on the integration of vocational courses in schools - how does it align exactly?

Under the Government’s Skill India Mission, efforts have been reinforced towards integrating skills at an early age, which are also aligned to the NEP 2020. The introduction of skill training at the school level can play a pivotal role in providing lifelong learning opportunities to children and enhance their prospects of sustainable livelihood in the future. It helps in providing practical training and orientation to the children, map their skill sets and provide career guidance towards new-age skills. The JuniorSkills Championship seeks to tap the interest among schoolchildren in skills, especially new-age and modern skills such as visual merchandising, green energy, entrepreneurship, etc. By creating a platform that encourages the practice of such skills in a competitive environment, JuniorSkills will play a part in developing an interest in vocational skills. The championship will go a long way in building the right perception about vocational skilling amongst students, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders.

At least 50 per cent of learners through the school and higher education system having exposure to vocational education is what the NEP 2020 entails. How will NSDC play a role in achieving that?

The Ministry of Education (MoE), brought out a revised Centrally Sponsored Scheme for Vocationalisation of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (CSS for VSHSE), to integrate employability education into School Education in September 2011. In 2018, this scheme got further revised and was brought under the integrated initiative (Samagra Shiksha) by MoE and termed Vocationalisation of School Education (VSE). The revised norms allow a student to complete training in one Job Role in 9th and 10th standards; followed by another in 11th and 12th standards. This scheme is operated under NSQF with an aim to promote a nationally integrated education and competency-based skill framework that will 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. NSDC, as a facilitator, is implementing Vocationalisation of School Education (VSE) - under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), NSDC and its Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) are facilitating MoE for the implementation of the said scheme in 12,332 schools across 31 States and Union Territories (UTs), offering 125 job role-aligned courses across 21 sectors, as of 2020-21. Under this initiative, more than 13 Lakh students are reportedly (by MoE) enrolled in the 2020-21 academic year.

According to you, what is the need for vocational education in schools?
A paradigm shift in the Indian education system is the need of the hour. It is important that skilling and education are blended together in the school curriculum for children to understand its significance at an early age. And for this to happen, options must be available for children in the form of skill development courses at both the primary and secondary levels. The new National Education Policy 2020 has rightly laid emphasis on vocational training and skilling to start early at the school level. As per the NEP 2020, in addition to traditional academic courses, vocational courses will be offered in Classes 9 -12 in Secondary schools. Students will be allowed to mix and match academics with skills education, sports and arts, and with soft skills training. The policy also lays emphasis on the expansion of implementation of Vocational Education at Secondary and Senior Secondary Level. With this aim, NSDC has collaborated with the CBSE to organise the first JuniorSkills Championship in the country, which will provide school children exposure to vocational education and make it aspirational for young students. The championship will assist the students to explore and exhibit their passion for a particular skill and receive the appropriate technical and vocational education training (TVET) to harness this passion.

READ ALSO: NSDC and Amazon India to launch a digital campaign to spread awareness about COVID-19​

How important is it for the youth to pursue vocational education at an early age? How do these soft skills help in the long run?
As per the 2018 Skilling India report by KPMG and FICCI, India has a demographic advantage - the average age of its population is estimated to be below 29 years. By 2022, India will have the largest working-age population in the world. On one hand, India has highly educated youth with degrees who cannot be employed due to lack of the right skills and on the other, there are highly skilled individuals who are not eligible for jobs because of lack of required educational qualifications. Therefore, the introduction of vocational education at an early age and training is crucial to provide lifelong learning opportunities to the young, enhance their prospects of employability, and bridge the demand-supply gap in the market.

For young aspirants, ITIs might be a good idea, NSDC has been talking about getting mid-career professionals back to learning soft skills so they can perform and earn better. Are they actually being able to do that?
NSDC is implementing the Government’s flagship scheme — Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), which currently in its third edition, has been providing free skill training to the youth of India at specialised training centres called Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendra (PMKK). These PMKKs are located in every district of the country.  

Under the PMKVY programme, from 2015 to 2020, over 1.25 crore youth has been trained and over 700 PMKK centres have been established across 36 states/union territories. Besides these, PMKVY training is imparted at other accredited and approved training centres.  The objective of the PMKVY training – which includes short-term training programmes (3-6 months) and Recognition of Prior Learning (up to one week orientation and assessment of persons with prior experience or informal training) – is to provide skill training to the people to make them employable.  The skill training is provided free of cost at all training centres and candidates are awarded course certificates.

Online skilling for people to take up-skilling at their own pace, self-learning modules - NSDC has launched eSkill India, an e-learning aggregator portal that provides learners with a platform to explore online skill-courses anytime, anywhere. The portal offers courses (about 60% free courses) in 10 Indian languages. Its high-quality digital content repository includes various industry sectors, namely agriculture, healthcare, telecommunication, retail, pharmaceutical, banking and finance, electronics, and information technology. 

Related Stories

No stories found.