Vocational education primarily deals with skill developmentaimed at increasing the employability of an individual. It is also known as Career and Technical Education (CTE) and as Vocational Education and Training (TVET). In consists of several practical courses that help people in building skills and experience which would be directly beneficial in a certain career path. In times of economic crisis, such as now, unemployment rises exponentially. In such a scenario where uncertainty looms over the youth’s future, vocational education serves as a safety net for many. While some vocational courses are offered at secondary and senior secondary levels in school, vocational education primarily takes place in post-secondary and college level. A 2019 report by the World Bank highlighted the importance of vocational education as a means for workers to compete in changing labour markets.
The labour market is evolving at a fast speed, and with most employers now demand knowledge of practical skills from their workers. Enrolling in vocational courses would not only benefit those who wish to add certain skills to their resume, but also to those individuals who wish to start earning as soon as possible. In a country as fraught with economic inequalities as India, many out-of-school adults wish to start earning as soon as possible. For a majority of India’s youth, mainstream education after grade twelve serves little purpose. They wish to learn skills that would guarantee employment in a short time, primarily because of a lack of resources that could fund higher education. There is, however, another demographic that stands to gain from vocational education. Individuals who are clear about their career path can take up skill-centric courses that would contribute to their training for a prospective job. For instance, those who wish to pursue a career in flying may directly enrol in aviation programmes without pursuing an academic degree.
The government of India recognises the role of education and skill-development in economic growth. As a result, several institutions across India are either partially or wholly funded by the Central government and various State governments. Industrial Training Institutes or ITIs offer full-time vocational courses, and they are provided recognition and certification by the Ministry of Labour, Government of India. Some several colleges and universities also offer part-time vocational courses, sometimes through distance learning. However, the government needs to streamline the courses offered by various national and state-level institutions for the youth to become more compatible with the existing job market. The critical elements of existing vocational training programs need to be modified even as these programs are made more flexible to accommodate the dynamic labour market which is vulnerable to changes due to forces of globalisation acting upon it. Issues specific to the Indian context also need to be taken up, such as high drop-out rate, lack of partnerships with the private sector, untrained and underqualified teaching faculty and red-tapism. In addition to this, the focus should be there on building an accessible channel of continuous skill up-gradation so that the workforce could update its skills and not become obsolete after the passage of some time.