The technical education and training scenario in India is changing rapidly with the adoption of the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020). Many states have been deliberating on the smooth implementation of the policy by involving multiple stakeholders. While we await the decisions, let’s look at one of the key aspects of technical training that needs immediate attention.
I’m talking about the need to revisit the branding and marketing of technical courses, especially the ones offered by 15,154 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in India. The courses offered under Craftsman Training Scheme (CTS) comprise 142 trades which include 74 Engineering trades, and 59 Non-Engineering trades.
In today’s world of work, most of these trades are getting transformed with technology integration. For example, CNC lathe machines are replacing older, traditional machining. Construction, Carpentry and Welding, though intensely manual, are gradually getting automated for safety reasons. With computerization and digital penetration, soon we will see a reduction in manual work in more trades. Below are three reasons why we need to reimagine the concept of trades and explore ways to elevate and brand them as professions.
Notion of trades limits it to manual work
Trades usually involve manual work acquired through hands-on training and skilling. Sometimes trades also refer to crafts practiced in a family. It would be artisans so it is usually handed down in the family and they are craftsmen artisans master craftsmen. Whereas in the ITIs courses, trades are not confined to just a ‘craft’ nor are the courses confined to production and manufacturing anymore. We also have various courses in the services sector and most recently we’ve included Industry 4.0 technologies like Robotics, AI-ML, 3-D Printing, Drones and more. This definitely enlarges the scope of courses and aligns with the emerging industry needs for a skilled workforce.
Profession has larger scope for career growth
Profession mostly requires a university degree or a diploma, acquired through academic learning. A professional course prepares one for a job and also shows options to build a career. Though it’s not always through academic learning, disciplines like Baking, Graphics Design, and Digital Marketing offer many professional courses. Most of the trades that form a part of ITI courses project a narrow approach to course design, nomenclature and marketing. This not only reduces the aspirational value of the courses but reinforces the notion of ITI courses leading to a dead end in terms of career options.
Implementing NEP 2020 through work-integrated learning
With NEP 2020 making a strong recommendation for integrating skills with academic learning, it’s imperative to show multiple paths, and scope to learn and grow through technical courses. For example, we find higher education vocational courses being branded as regular Degree programs to avoid the stigma attached to anything vocational. Hence we have courses like B.Sc, BBA and others offering Logistics, Healthcare, and Hospitality as core subjects. Also, for ITI students, to show them a path towards higher education, the equivalence with the 10th or 12th class should open up avenues for academic degrees.
It might also interest you to read: Here is how the National Education Policy 2020 can help us restructure our current education system
To elevate vocational or skill-based programmes from the trade level to the professional level, we need to take care of the above-mentioned points. Especially, in the context of the National Credit Framework (NCrF) that calls for assigning credits to different forms of learning, we need to relook at how technical training courses are designed, branded and marketed to attract more students and make them employable.