Making the 600 million youth who will enter the workforce employable will call for a rebooting of the education system states TeamLease Skills University

Mumbai: If our education system has to become a game changer, it will require an overhaul states TeamLease Skills University’s latest whitepaper “Skills University: Making the Transition from Employment to Employability.” According to the analysis making the 600 million youth who are expected to be entering the workforce by 2022 employable will require identifying the core challenges in the education system and adopting a course correction. It will call for creating a multi modal, credit linked, skills based learning framework. As per the whitepaper making the learning ecosystem more relevant to current times will need interventions right from the curriculum offered, to, the mode of delivery, adoption of technology, financing and even the regulatory eco-system.

Elaborating about the analysis, Ms. Neeti Sharma, Senior Vice President, TeamLease Services, said, “While National Education Policy is a progressive step towards augmenting the learning ecosystem, but for our students to smoothly transition to gainful employment and take advantage of the growing avenues will require efforts beyond policy. It will require all the stake holders including students, curriculum developers, institutions who impart education, policy makers and above all employers to work in work in tandem with each other. In fact, our education eco-system should be re-imagined in such a way that it addresses the economic priorities of its stake holders aptly”.

Some of the key recommendations the whitepaper has put forth that can help in improving the state of our education are

Emphasise on work integrated learning: Our education system should be aligned towards creating employable talent. And the most effective way for that is by blending class room learning with on-the-job-training. This will help students to not only understand concepts but also create an opening balance with regard to work experience.

Higher educational institutions should pray to one God – Jobs: Employer or job providers should be at the heart of the operations. Employers need greater influence over the design and delivery of education. Further, the curriculum should be responsive to the economic priorities. There is also the need to look at opening more Public-Private Partnerships and building more skill universities.

Leverage technology to make learning more accessible and engaging: While 2020 did fast track adoption of technology in learning, in 2021, all stakeholders need to further leverage technology. Adoption of technology makes learning from anywhere feasible and hence it has the potential to improve GER as well as reducing the drop out ration. In fact, learning can be made more universal with technology. Technology can also pave the way for self- learning as well as flexible learning, self-regulated learning. Apart from making learning accessible, technology can play a crucial role in improving the quality of learning and retention. It can provide access to open information resources, and extend more scientific support. Leverage technology supported social media platforms can facilitate peer to peer interactions and thereby help in delivering valuable real world experience to the learners. Not just this, in the next few years, gamification can be used to enhance engagement and assessment as well.

Transform the financing structure of learning: Financing is a key component when it comes to education. Rather than being dependent on government or students, the financing has to be drawn from the eco-system. It has to be partaken by all the stake holders- students, employers and authorities and each of the stake holders should be incentivised for their contribution.
Ease the regulatory bottleneck: Apart from creating more scope for PPPs in this sector, multiple policy interventions are also required. There is a need for not just a reform in the education policy, but also reforms that support eco-systems that promulgate work-integrated learning. Some of the key regulations that need a revisit are Apprentices Act of 1961, UGC Act of 1956 and UGC Online Regulations of 2018. Policy makers should look at re writing the clause 8.2.6 of Chapter 8 of UGC Act of 1956 and include the four classrooms (online, on-site, on-campus and on-job) as well as accommodate the pedagogy. It should also consider the investments required in Campus, Technology, Content, People and Industry Relationships. Rewrite Section 22 (3) of the UGC Act, create specialized Apprenticeship Linked Degree Programs as a category of courses that mandates apprenticeships and credit transfers. When it comes of Apprentices Act of 1961, clause 9, 21 and 23 needs to be modified to allow Skills University to teach as well as evaluate Apprentices and provide credits towards Degree linked Apprentices. Rewriting of the clause 2 of the act to make Skills University inclusive to the Apprenticeship ecosystem is also the need of the hour. Modifying the clause 8 of the Apprenticeship Act to remove the licensing and cap on Universities for enrolling degree linked apprenticeship students can also go a long way in improving the environment. With regard to UGC Online Regulations of 2018
Clause 4(2) should be re looked and should be crafted to allow innovation, flexibility and relevance in an online curriculum that makes the curriculum industry-relevant and the student employable. Further, rewrite clause 7(2)(2) to allow universities to work with the best technology platforms without holding them hostage to a State-sponsored system and 7(2)(3) for Skills university to define their credit framework which includes credits for Online, Onsite and Apprenticeship based learning.

India is set to become the third-largest economy by 2030 and for our youth to leverage the opportunities that the economy may present will require a transformation of our education system. Our education should move away from being one that addresses the social signalling quotient to one that empowers the learners. It should promote institutions that help students to gain skills that will help them get gainful employment.