NEP 2020 ‘ENABLES SKILLS’ FOR THE 21ST CENTURY ASPIRATIONAL INDIA
Only 45.6% of youth graduating out of colleges in India are employable (India Skills Report, 2019). The Labour Force Participation Rate (percentage of the working age population actually engaged in the labour force) stands at a dismal 49.8% (Periodic Labour Force Survey, 2018). This paints a rather grim and dark picture for opportunities awaiting students graduating out of colleges. The Covid pandemic has only aggravated the situation. These grim realities however do not take away the fact that the average age of the Indian population is just 29 years (State of the Urban Youth, India 2012: Employment, Livelihoods, Skills Report, 2013). 50% of the Indian population is below the age of 25 years (2011 Census of India). These figures go on to prove how India is a land of youngsters waiting to be up-skilled and explored.
The lack of skills, vocational education and apprenticeship amongst the youngsters today has for long remained a concern. Thus when the Government decided to start countering these concerns right from the roots, the National Education Policy was born.
What does the NEP set in motion?
The Government of the day has responded to the hopes and demands of the aspirational youth of today and set in motion a new National Education Policy. The NEP has redefined its focus on holistic development, vocational training, skill appreciation, craft-centric learning, technological learning and student entrepreneurship to prepare the youth of today for the world and place them in the drivers’ seat to fulfil their aspirations and lead change in the country tomorrow. The skill-focused measures include:
The NEP, 2020 plans to focus on development of analytical, mathematical and cognitive learning skills. It also plans to bring in more digitized assessment systems in the country’s educational institutions.
The National Educational Policy has sought to re-imagine with the introduction of vocational education early on in a student’s life and giving it the weightage it deserves. Vocational Education essentially prepares students to take up employment in a skilled craft. It employs application based learning alongside theory and cognitive skill development for the purpose. In India however, it has always been seen as something inferior to conventional academic courses. The rigid separations between vocational and academic streams have sought to be lifted. Vocational education will be integrated systematically into school and higher education over the next decade. The focus areas of the vocational education will be selected by district authorities via skill gap analysis and mapping of local opportunities. The report envisions a process of mainstreaming vocational education across schools and higher educational institutions. It sets a target of vocationally training 50% of Indian students by 2025. A revamped curriculum and open learning system charted out in the policy would allow even adults to actively engage in skill enhancement. This much needed shift in focus to vocational education comes after a warning from none other than UNICEF in 2019. A report published by the esteemed organisation estimated that by 2030 about 53% of Indian youth would lack skills for 21st century jobs. However with a restructured vocational education regime India seems to reposition itself on the global map, taking advantage of its demographic dividend.
The policy sets out a plan for a holistic confluence of multidisciplinary fields ranging across the board from humanities and sciences to social sciences, technical and vocational fields alongside nurturing an ethic of social engagement and soft skills like communication and debate.
The NEP also plans to introduce school internships and apprenticeships thereby promoting craft based learning. The focus areas would again be mapped by district authorities based on local needs. The ‘fun’ course as it is described will give students an exposure and experience of skill based trades like carpentry, electrical work, pottery making etc. Needless as it may sound, the process sets the ball rolling for a learning based on upskilling as one grows through the process of being imparted education.
The introduction of multiple entry and exit points in higher education courses in the country is another revolutionary measure in the road to the dream of an Upskilled India. Unlike before, students would not have to wait for the entire degree to receive a certification and to be considered a graduate. The multiple exit points would allow provision of certification after a year, diploma on completion of two years and a conventional degree after three years. Deserved weightage would now be given to skill oriented application based learning alongside theoretical concepts. Students would now be able to comfortably take an exit at one of these levels to work or garner experience only to return back later to complete the degree. This revolutionary concept seems like an absurd dream under the current system.
The NEP also incorporates the technological needs of the 21st century as it envisions the integration of coding into the curriculum as early as class 6. This reinstates the motive to upskill and nurture the youth of today with basic concepts of coding from an early age given the increasing stress on the field in the current day and age.
The policy also seeks to promote problem solving, creative and analytical thinking skills. It also seeks to focus on improving communication skills among students.
Better skill training and holistic development will form the pillars on which India’s future (with over 65% of the population below 35 years - 2011 Census of India) hopes to erect its sky scraping heights. In a country with just 4.69% vocationally trained youth (National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015), the problem was neatly summed up in the National Skill Development Mission of 2015 – “Our country presently faces a dual challenge of paucity of highly trained workforce, as well as non-employability of large sections of the conventionally educated youth, who possess little or no job skills.” It is these issues that the National Education Policy of 2020 seeks to address to solve the majority of the problems plaguing our youth.
NEP’S ‘Realisation’ Today was Skillenable’s ‘Vision’ yesterday
The NEP realizes in 2020 the vision with which Skillenable was established in 2019. Skillenable has been seeking to upskill the youth of today and fill up the gap between jobs and skilled individuals right from its inception. Several aspects that the NEP lays stress on, have already been focus areas in our elite courses. Our courses heavily depend on analytical thinking, critical and application based learning.
A variety of methods like case studies and quizzes are put to use for the same. All the courses and counselling sessions are held online – the future of education in India. In fact our course - ‘Deep Dive in Data Science, AI and ML’ has a module of over 50 hours duration on Holistic Development apart from 450 hours of Intensive Data Science Learning. This module exclusively focuses on developing soft skills like cognitive thinking, communication skills. Thus it helps make one most suitable for his/her dream job in the desired industry.
The 'Learn now, Pay Later' option of the course allows you to take up the course now and pay only when you start earning after it’s completion. This outcome based education model wherein a candidate’s success is directly related to the course fee makes educational institutes responsible for what they teach. This is revolutionary and visionary in its own right pretty much like the NEP. With enabling skills and a visionary approach, opportunities in the new India only wait to be seized.