"The world is counting on India for its exceptional talent pool to lead the next wave of innovation and global technology companies are banking on their access to this knowledge work force."
These are the words of the CEO of one of the most respected technology companies.
Similar glowing tributes are being paid to technology graduates by many others. Those graduating from our engineering colleges are being accepted by employers across the globe.
However, when it comes to their poor cousins, graduating from polytechnics and ITIs, the scene is quite different. They face a big wall in achieving their dreams to go abroad.
Those coming out from ITIs have been able to go only to middle-east countries and have not been able to touch the shores of developed nations.
And the great wall faced by our ITI students is the certification required from an internationally recognised certifying authority as that is the pre-requisite in developed countries.
It is not that the developed countries don't need technicians. While our students coming out from ITIs are not able to go to such countries, those from many developing countries, including Bangladesh, are filling the vacuum.
Why do we have this difference between those coming out of engineering colleges and those from the ITIs? While the engineering colleges have been fast to change their curriculum, the same has not happened in case of ITIs.
The National Council of Vocation Studies (NCVT) and State Council of Vocational Studies (SCVTs) have not been able to keep pace with the changed requirements.
This has led to a scenario where the large percentage of products being churned out by 5114 ITIs having capacity of 750000, have to be specifically trained by industries employing them.
Thus what is being taught in ITIs has to be relevant to what is required by the industry.
One of the important steps taken recently has been the creation of Centres of Excellences amongst ITIs where they have been given some autonomy and private sector is participating closely in the management.
However, their number is only 500 today out of 5114 ITIs. How do we increase the employability of the ITI students in India as well as abroad? The answer lies in the constant upgradation of course content as per requirements of the industry which are generally well reflected in the course content of internationally recognised certifying authorities.
Other measures are to open more service oriented trades as the share of service sector is increasing rapidly in our economy. Here we have been rather slow as would be evident from the list of such trades available in developed countries and ours.
Closing down trades which are not in demand, retraining the trainers, having tie up with reputed certifying authorities to enable the poor students to take such tests at low cost, associate local industry in the Institute Management Committees of ITIs, etc are some other steps in this regard.
These steps will not only open gates for ITI students to foreign jobs but will also do away with the need of long term training programmes which are being conducted today by the industry before they put the new recruits on the shop floor.
It is heartening to note that some of the states have started working on this model.
(Prakash Kumar worked as Secretary, Tech Education, in Delhi Government)