By Rituparna Chakraborty
The dramatic changes in global economies over the past 10 years with the transformation offered by technology have had a significant impact on education and employment. A good education no longer guarantees livelihood; on the contrary, studies indicate that over 30% of the unemployed youth consist of graduates and postgraduates. To keep pace with changes in the modern workplace, our students need to go back to their roots and focus on developing skills along with general education around the lines of the traditional gurukula system where skill development was integral to holistic learning.
India is one of the youngest nations in the world with more than 62% of its population in the working-age group (15-59 years), and over 54% of its population below 25 years of age. But a 2019 report from the UNICEF indicates that at least 47% of Indian youth will not possess the education and skills necessary for employment by 2030. India’s demographic dividend needs both educational opportunities and effective skilling to be the driving force of economic growth and social development.
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The National Education Policy 2020 has recognised skill deficit as a major chink in our education system and mandated educational institutions to integrate skill development into their course offerings. To achieve this vision of the NEP 2020, government educational bodies designed a comprehensive framework called the National Credit Framework (NCrF). It seeks to establish and formalise a national credit accumulation and transfer system that will integrate both general and vocational education while ensuring mobility between the two systems to ensure a continuous and ongoing commitment to learning. The NCrF is the result of a joint collaboration of the UGC, AICTE, NCVET, NIOS, CBSE, NCERT, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Skill Development. The NCrF provides for a broad-based, multidisciplinary, holistic education that allows for need-based curricular structures and enables the choice of creative combinations of subjects and disciplines.
The NCrF will enable the transformation of India by providing high-quality education opportunities along with effective skill development. This will help reap India’s demographic dividend by making education and skilling aspirational. The NCrF promises to be a game-changer by mainstreaming skill education and experiential learning including skills acquired in professional capacity. This will help make these skills an integral part of the education system, ensuring that the youth is provided with educational opportunities along with quality skills. Research corroborates that countries with higher levels and standards of skills adjust more effectively to the challenges and opportunities in domestic and international job markets.
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Employers in India are already grappling with the unemployability of our young graduates. The NCrF seeks to draw focus on skill development by attributing equal weightage to different areas of learning. In addition to credits for higher education, credits can also be earned for skill-based training that increases interest in apprenticeships, both as a route to employment and for raising the skill levels of the future workforce. This, in turn, will contribute to regional development objectives and provide local employers with the skilled workforce they require to remain competitive and create jobs. Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany and the US are examples of countries that have a highly evolved apprenticeship programme that enjoys the support of employers and is aligned with national and international qualification frameworks. The adoption of the NCrF can place India on the path to creating a similar growth trajectory for our unemployable youth and draw the focus back on Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of ‘Shram Pratishtha’ or hands-on learning.
The NCrF will help implement the suggestions of the NEP 2020 and go a long way towards bridging the gap between higher education and skill development. Targeted skill development in tandem with the demands of the industry will help mitigate the impending global talent crunch. In the words of Robert Greene, “The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.”
The author is co-founder & executive director, TeamLease Services