Seamless integration of skills, knowledge and experiential learning is the need of the hour! With rapid technological disruption and heavy automation in every industry, it is crucial for the students to acquire the necessary skills and build the right competency for a bright future.
To ensure the future-readiness of its students, C. V. Raman Global University, one of Odisha’s top universities, has uniquely combined skills, vocational education and training with higher education, setting new benchmarks and doing many innovative programs with industry participation.
To know more about how the university is enabling faculty and students to be future-ready through their unique industry-aligned programs, we conversed with Prof. B.S. Satyanarayana, Vice-Chancellor, C. V. Raman Global University (CGU), Bhubaneshwar, Odisha.
Below are a few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full video on our YouTube channel.
Q. How are you combining employability, entrepreneurship and education with many programs that you offer at CGU?
A: We are going through an exciting period as far as education is concerned as innovation is happening in every domain. So, this is the right time to seamlessly integrate skills, knowledge, experiential and integrated learning which will eventually lead to competency building of the students. The right competency will further enhance their design thinking and employability. Today, changes are happening at a lightning pace, knowledge life-cycles are reducing and product life cycles have become even shorter. So, now, we must invest our time and efforts to integrate skills with knowledge which should start from the ground level with a good foundation right from school. And with National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020) in the backdrop, there has never been a better time to do so.
The prime focus of our university since the day it’s established, is on skilling and skill-based education. Along with experiential learning and technical skills and domain knowledge, we strive to deliver all the necessary life skills such as communication and other skills to all our students. As we started with skill-based engineering programs, we understood that the curriculum was outdated and not industry-aligned. So, we updated our curriculum to meet the need of the hour and also created infrastructure for future skills by working with various industry partners. Our aim is to make the students employable by meeting the changing dynamics of the industry needs and innovation.
In India, a degree is more aspirational than vocational skills and hands-on experience. However, we must understand that skills along with hands-on practical knowledge play a pivotal role in the steady career growth of the students. For example, a surgeon needs a huge amount of knowledge, skill, competence and experience to perform a surgery. Even a pilot cannot fly the plane without hands-on practice. So, people need to understand that skill and competence with practical implementation is needed.
Using the new NEP 2020, we are working towards creating a seamless structure between education, skilling and also focusing on adding value to the entire structure. As a university, we are creating lifelong learning provisions where we focus on delivering hands-on quality training and experiential learning. In our Skill Centres, we have also introduced many skill courses and training for school dropouts under Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY). We have created a futuristic work infrastructure worth multiple crores in collaboration with 25 companies for all the 25 major skills that are typically played up in the WorldSkills competition. Along with creating an integrated framework of knowledge and skills, with advanced centres, our university also focused on creating a process where it is mandatory for students to take up skill courses.
Q. How do you manage various Centres of Excellence (CoEs) established in the university with industry partnership?
A: As per a recent report by the World Economic Forum, 92% of employed people need additional education for survival or transition and 88% need continuous formal education. There is an acute shortage of skilled people in every company. So, whether it is government, industry or a university, we all should come together to enable this transition for a regular or skilling program.
Looking at future skills and the current needs, we spoke to industries and were able to get 25 companies on board. They have set up Centres of Excellence (CoEs) where a wide range of activities from welding, drilling to high-performance tasks like Computing, Cyber Security, Water Technology are being performed. We also have companies working on Mechatronics, Automation and all other sorts of instrumentation. The training in the CoEs helps our students to build the right competency to participate and perform in skill competitions. In the recently held Odisha Skill competition, 38 students from CGU have won various awards and that is a huge transition.
We have created labs in partnership with major national and international companies where people have been trained not only to get skilled and understand fundamentals but also to use their knowledge to design and develop products, processes and solutions. We are also expanding tool room centres to develop products for Aerospace and Defence. So, here the students will not only learn the skills associated with the design and development of the product but also get hands-on experience in an industrial atmosphere. We are one of the 40 institutions in the country selected by AICTE to create an idea lab.
To work better with industries of all sizes, we give assignments and projects specially designed for our teachers where they are made to re-look at the fundamentals that expand our scope in developing the products besides enabling employability and entrepreneurship.
Q. How do you train the teachers to make them industry-ready?
A: For any education and training program to be effective, it is crucial for the trainers and facilitators to be motivated. At our university, we reckon motivation and orientation as the two major enablers for any faculty development program. Every faculty member at C. V. Raman Global University is linked to at least a couple of skill labs where we have introduced assignments, project-based studies, and case studies. We are encouraging teachers to work in a multidisciplinary way to recognize the functional aspects of the courses that they are linked to.
We have formulated a structure for assignments, projects and activities in a way to meet the students’ area of interest and the outcomes are so designed that the teachers can actually get data for taking up a consultancy with industries of all sizes. Also, our teachers do advanced activities with the students who are keen to learn more.
Our focus is not only on skilling them for the context but excites them to go beyond and mentor them for lifelong opportunities of innovation, research, employability and entrepreneurship. We are making it worthwhile for the teachers and trainers to engage in all the skill development related activities.
Q. What is your view about the changes that are coming up with NEP, 2020? What would be your advice to students?
A: Everyone in the skilling ecosystem should understand that NEP 2020 calls for a major transformation. Now, everything has become multidisciplinary and with this, the key thing that one needs to understand is that the foundation for any skill-based education has to be strong.
Today, it is crucial for students to understand fundamentals, get vocational education at the school level, and being able to link theory to practice are very critical. Foundation in school has to be well-grounded. With the focus on multidisciplinary and choice-based studies, NEP 2020 is bringing value into skilling and skill-based education and trying to remove the stigma attached to them. So, it is one of the best things that happened in the education system.
Also read: Need for blended approach to design skill-based learning during COVID-19 crisis https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/need-for-blended-approach-to-design-skill-based-learning/
For innovation and transformation to happen, students should be equally skilled and competent. The key is to design education for learning based outcomes with built-in provision for assessment. This will help us become global leaders in knowledge creation and comprehension besides being equally enabling our students to become employable and helping them become innovators. NEP is a boon provided they truly take it in the right spirit. It is now on us to make vocational education and skilling equally aspirational.