To Solve Unemployability, India Must Focus On Quality Technical Education

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According to Kris Lakshmikanth, Founder Chairman and MD of The Head Hunters India, the curriculum has not kept pace with the rapidly changing times and therefore vacancies can be hard to fill. Employability will improve when the syllabus reflects the demands of the industry.

A Japanese firm that set up an ancillary unit in Karnataka approached Lakshmikanth for help with hiring CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine operators. “We can’t find five good candidates against the company’s requirement of 200. The skills required for the job are not taught in the five or six colleges,” he said. The employability issue will worsen as the years go by, as many jobs will be lost to robots, he added.

The incident reflects a misalignment between industry requirements and available resources, which is a major concern for recruiters across sectors. There seems to be an inherent disconnect between the curriculum based learning at the institution level, with the requisite ‘job ready’ skills needed by Indian corporates.

Since Independence, the technical education system in our country has grown into a fairly large-sized system, offering opportunities for education and training in a wide variety of trades and disciplines at a certificate, diploma, degree, postgraduate degree and doctoral levels in institutions located throughout the country.

The main objective of the technical education is that, it makes the students skilled and technically fit for the industries. In other words people with sound technical knowledge cannot remain unemployed.

A few observations seem pertinent.

First, there has been increasing concern about the employment gap and skills gap. Second, more than half of India’s population of 1.3 billion is below the age of 25 and finally, the annual demand for new jobs in India is estimated at 12-15 million.

According to the All India Survey 2018 by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) covering 534 Lok Sabha constituencies, spread among various demographics, ‘better employment opportunities’ tops the priorities of voters – it comes as no surprise though given the state of affairs.

“The single most important thing I find missing in our education system is its ability to help individuals understand why they are studying what they’re studying; what are their strengths and how can they impact society,” said Ketan Kapoor, CEO and co-founder, Mettl, an assessment and skill-measurement company. “The second reason is this culture of working really hard, to aim to be a perfectionist. It is important to understand that the student or the prospective employee is competing not just among peer groups in India but globally,” he added.

India has been witnessing the age of science and technology for long resulting in a huge demand of technical education. The pattern of life evolving in the age is very much different from the one we find in our society even some years back.

Technical education contributes immensely to the education system in general and plays an essential role in the social and economic development of our country. Besides, in this age of joblessness, only technical education can assure us of a good opportunity for employment and successful career.

However, country’s technical education is beset with many shortcomings India’s predicament of substandard engineering education is now widely believed. It has left the engineers graduating from most institutes almost unemployable. There have been some intermittent efforts to improve the situation but most of the efforts either fell short of desired level or failed to bring about any significant changes.

However, in order to scale up the overall technical education in the northeast, a regional workshop of the directors of technical education and principals of polytechnic education of the northeastern region was held in Guwahati recently. It was hosted by the Directorate of Technical Education, Assam under the aegis of National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training & Research (NITTTR), Kolkata. As many as six Directors of Technical Education belonging to various states, 40 Principals of different polytechnic colleges from the northeast and faculties and experts from NITTTR attended the workshop.

NITTTR, Kolkata was the first among four such institutes (other three being at Chandigarh, Bhopal and Chennai) established by the Department of Education, MHRD, Government of India as fully centrally funded autonomous institutions for providing pre and in-service training to the teachers and staff of degree and diploma level training institutions. It’s also mandated for conducting various activities related to quality improvement of the technical education system of the country. The Goverment of India, in 2003, accorded national status to this institute, (along with the three sister institutes) in recognition of the contribution of these institutes for the expert service rendered for overall improvement of quality of the technical education system.

The 3-day workshop was methodically organized, with well-curated content. The workshop’s programme schedule set the tone for an atmosphere where people felt comfortable deliberating, expressing their thoughts and learning from one another. The individual participants brought to the fore significant issues ranging from shortage of faculties to lack of internet connection, from poor infrastructure to outdated laboratory equipment to severe supply shortage of electricity and water.

Although the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) assured they would address some of the issues but the onus now lies on the state governments’ interventions.

The economic development and growth of a nation depends largely on technical hands. And, therefore the country needs to more meaningfully prioritize quality technical education to boost the prosperity of the nation.

India is in an awful mess given that unemployability is a bigger worry than unemployment. Technology is changing at a brisk pace, so much so that it’s challenging to grasp. Thus, realising the dream of modern India lies greatly with efficient ways of skilling, up-skilling and re-skilling of country’s rising youth population.

The larger question is whether governments both at the centre and states will be able to crack the unemployability problem, or will the problem crack the governments?

This article was first published here.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: James Famkima/Wikimedia Commons.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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