The government has constituted a task force on Skill Development to restructure the country's vocational education system.
Headed by Tarun Das, Chief Mentor of CII, the task force will also consider whether specific legislation is required to regulate the vocational education and training sector.
"There are laws in a number of countries laws which make it mandatory for anyone wanting to start a business or take up a job, to have some skill or competence or know a trade," Das told Hindustan Times. "But such a law can have meaning only when the infrastructure for imparting such training exists in sufficient measure."
The task force will also provide suggestions on the precise division of responsibility between the government and private sector in imparting vocational education and training (VET).
"It will set out the steps required to help the private sector perform the role envisaged for it. More specifically, it will dileanate the role that industry associations and chambers of commerce should play in VET", said Das.
Currently the labour ministry runs 5114 industrial training institutes (ITIs) and the human resource development ministry an approximately equal number. Some other ministries and departments too have training institutes in their specific areas. But the number is still woefully inadequate.
Estimates suggest that only three per cent of the work force in India has received some form of formal VET as compared to nearly 60 to 80 per cent in the US, Europe and some countries of Asia such as Korea and Japan.
The task force will submit its report in February 2007. It will recommend the appropriate stage ( class 8 or 10) at which pre-vocational courses should be introduced into the regular school system so that it has "two broad streams to offer -- academic and applied," said Das. "We will also recommend other changes that may be required in the school system", said Das.
"During the last 60 years the word vocational education has acquired a negative connotation among our politicians, officials, parents, teachers and students. The word `vocation' does not command the respect which a BA or BCom degree does. This needs a mindset change," Das said.
NIIT Chairman Rajendra Pawar, Tata Sons executive director R Gopalakrishnan, Dr Naresh Trehan, Executive Director of Escorts Hospital, Krishan Khanna, Chairman "I" Watch, Dr Surinder Kapur, Chairman Sona Koyo Steering System, V Akula, CEO, SKS Microfinance, and representatives from the ministries of labour, human resource development are the other members of the task force. BS Sawan, senior consultant in the planning commission is its convenor.