Although Maharashtra is the nation’s industrial hub, the student enrollment ratio for vocational education is 1.5% as compared to the national average of 5% in 2009.
Vocational education provides training to skilled workers such as plumbers, mechanics and assembly-line workers.
Prime minister Manmohan Singh has been stressing on the need for skill development for empowerment and national skill development will be the crux of the Twelfth Five Year Plan. Developed countries have enrollment ratios as high as 50%.
The report states: “What is particularly disappointing is the enrollment in vocational education in Maharashtra is significantly worse than even the national average. Given that Maharashtra is the industrial hub of India, the significance of improving this ratio can hardly be over emphasised. The growth in this sector is slipping and only way to bolster it is to create employment and livelihood opportunities which alone is the ultimate solution to poverty.”
As of December 2009, there were 4,207 vocational institutes in the state with an intake of about 4.51 lakh students.
An important part of vocational education is the training imparted by the industrial training institutes (ITIs). An analysis of ITI figures show that students prefer private industrial training institutes over those run by the government.
For example, in 2008-09 the number and capacity of government ITIs has increased but the number of students enrolling has dropped from the previous year. In the same year there has been a sharp increase in the number of students (78% increase over the previous year) in unaided ITIs where the fees are significantly higher.
Further evidence of greater demand for private ITIs is evident from the fact that the annual average growth rate of students admitted is 18% for the unaided ITIs while it is just over 10% for government ITIs.
There are 617 ITIs (407 government and 210 private institutes) in the state with a capacity of more than 95,000 students.
“It is an issue of great concern that the potential of vocational education is not being exploited,” said Ajit Ranade, chief economist Aditya Birla Group.
“A combination of factors could have lead to this low enrollment ratio in state: The skewed distribution of development in the state with industrial clusters only in Mumbai, Pune, Nasik and Aurangabad and a relatively high percentage of service economy in the state.”