Addressing gaps in technical education: Empowering through upskilling - Hindustan Times

Addressing gaps in technical education: Empowering through upskilling

BySumit Shukla
Jun 11, 2024 01:12 PM IST

This article is authored by Sumit Shukla, founder and CEO, Connexrm Pte Ltd (Singapore) and chairman, i-merit Steering Committee.

Technical education is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by the evolving demands of the job market and rapid advancements in technology. The traditional framework of technical education can no longer be considered sufficient, necessitating a shift towards upskilling and embracing new methodologies. Even the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 reflects this changing landscape, emphasising the need to prepare students for future jobs requiring a blend of technical prowess, problem-solving abilities, and creativity.

Education (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Education (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The NEP's emphasis on regulatory and transformative changes in curriculum and pedagogy signifies a crucial step towards aligning education with industry requirements. Initiatives such as the National Credit Framework, credit-based learning, and access to online and offline courses offer students flexibility and exposure to diverse learning experiences, paving the way for a more dynamic and relevant education system. Policy interventions like the Pradhan Mantri Yuva Udyamita Vikas Abhiyan (PM-YUVA), launched in 2016, aim to promote entrepreneurship among youth by providing access to business studies and entrepreneurship support networks. Similarly, Project AMBER focuses on holistic skilling to enhance job quality and retention, while the Skill Loan Scheme facilitates access to certified skill development courses, aligning with National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) guidelines.

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The introduction of innovative models like the Skill Impact Bond, which prioritises outcome-driven strategies such as job placements and retention, demonstrates a shift towards result-oriented skill development initiatives. Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) have also played a significant role in offering real employment opportunities to trainees, especially from low-income backgrounds, contributing to inclusive economic growth.

Despite these initiatives, there are persistent gaps in technical education that need urgent attention. A study revealed that India faces a significant skill deficit, projected to reach 29 million by 2030 according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). This deficit not only impacts individual employability but also poses challenges to the country's overall economic growth. According to a recent study, only one in 10 engineering students graduating this year may land a job. The India Employment Report 2024 published by the ILO in association with The Institute for Human Development also pointed out that one in three young people was not in employment, education or training in India, which indicates a lack of employable skills.

Approximately 1.5 million engineering graduates graduate annually from colleges nationwide. However, a recent report pointed out that only around 10% of them may secure job offers this fiscal year. Additionally, the report highlights that only 45% of applicants presently meet the standards set by potential employers, indicating a growing disparity in skills. Employers are seeking a blend of interpersonal abilities such as communication, problem-solving, teamwork, emotional intelligence, among others, along with technical expertise in areas like programming languages, software development methodologies, cloud computing, and data analytics - which is not what most students in the final year of college are equipped with.

To bridge the existing gaps, a comprehensive approach to upskilling is imperative. This includes vocational training, online certifications, digital and soft skills training, mentorship programmes, and industry collaborations. Final-year students in technical programmes can benefit greatly from access to resources, workshops, and career opportunities that make them industry-ready upon graduation. A comprehensive approach to skills development is paramount. This approach encompasses a range of initiatives tailored specifically for technical students, aimed at equipping them with real-world skills that are not only in high demand but also ensure they are job-ready from day one.

One key aspect of this comprehensive approach is the implementation of job-assured programmes. These programmes are designed in collaboration with industry partners to bridge the gap between academic learning and practical application. By integrating industry-relevant projects, internships, and mentorship opportunities into the curriculum, students gain invaluable hands-on experience and a deep understanding of industry expectations.

At the foundational level, basic programmes play a crucial role in laying a strong groundwork for technical students. These programmes focus on fundamental technical skills, communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and teamwork. By strengthening these core competencies, students become well-rounded professionals capable of adapting to diverse roles and challenges.

Certification programmes also hold significant value in the upskilling landscape. Recognised certifications from industry bodies and reputed institutions validate students' skills and enhance their marketability. These programmes often cover specific technical competencies, software tools, and best practices, providing students with a competitive edge in the job market.

Additionally, advanced programmes play a crucial role in upskilling technical students. These programmes focus on emerging technologies, specialised domains, and advanced methodologies that are shaping the future of industries. By offering training in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, cybersecurity, data analytics, and blockchain, students can stay ahead of the curve and contribute meaningfully to technological advancements.

Public-private partnerships and collaborative efforts between organisations can further enhance the efficacy of skill development programmes, ensuring that they meet industry standards and address current and future job market requirements.

By prioritising upskilling and fostering a culture of continuous learning, India can unlock its vast potential, empower its workforce, and drive sustainable economic development.

This article is authored by Sumit Shukla, founder and CEO, Connexrm Pte Ltd (Singapore) and chairman, i-merit Steering Committee.

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