Tata Institute of Social Sciences – School of Vocational Education (TISS-SVE) has been at the forefront of implementing vocational education program in higher education through B.Voc. The upcoming consultative seminar at the national level, “Skill India: The way forward in higher education, in Mumbai” aims to bring together all stakeholders in this space and initiate a dialogue for creating a roadmap. In this Skill Talk Prof. Neela Dabir, Dean, Tata Institute of Social Sciences – School of Vocational Education (TISS-SVE) shares the context for the seminar, along with expected outcomes and the way forward. Let’s read on…
Q: Tell us about how B.Voc is a crucial degree that can play an important role in enhancing the value of skill-based vocational education.
A: Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has come up with the B.Voc courses to provide vocational education at the college level through skill based courses and industry-integrated curriculum. UGC has been funding universities and college to start B.Voc as a part of the Higher Education program with grants ranging from Rs. 1.75 to Rs.1.85 crores.
Since B.Voc is a 3-year program, it fulfils the need for a degree unlike other short term programs that award a certificate or a diploma. UGC has declared it equivalent to other degrees; B.Voc graduates can apply for higher education like post-graduate course. This has also increased the aspirational value of vocational education with many B.Voc students asking for M.Voc courses. Some universities have started M.Voc on their own but UGC has not yet given any guidelines for M.Voc. It’s not clear how we can develop the curriculum for level 8 and 9 of NSQF.
Q: What is your opinion and experience about the participation from the government?
A: I am glad to see a lot of interest from the government in supporting vocational training at the Degree level. Government of Maharashtra has plans to set up Skills Universities in the state but we are not clear about how these institutions will be funded, for example, in the past, state governments had given land on concession for private universities, but when it comes to government universities, we are yet to gain clarity on the plans and implementation process.
Online Registration: Click here to register for the Seminar : Skill India – The Way Forward in Higher Education.
Q: How does TISS SVE ensure that B.Voc meets the needs of the industry through on-the-job-training and as an option for apprenticeships?
A: TISS SVE offers only those B.Voc courses that have an industry demand. We find out about the job opportunities and then offer the course through work integrated training. But other universities have different models, they have set up labs for practical training or they have invited companies to set up labs within the university premises for hands-on component of the curriculum.
Students can go for apprenticeships during the B.Voc course but there is some disparity between the Apprentice Act of 1961 and B.Voc course credits. If this is sorted out B.Voc students can go for 3 –year apprenticeships in various companies. Right now, the students are eligible for apprenticeships under National Employability Enhancement Mission (NEEM) scheme – this is another possibility through learn-and-earn model.
Q: What about National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS)?
A: NAPS from MSDE is also an option but right now we are not able to match the credit hours. NAPS insists on 70% practicals, 30% theory, and they also have a requirement of completing the theory component first and it can’t be simultaneously taught with practicals. Some of these specifications are different from B.Voc guidelines that recommend 60% practical and 40% theory. Once these disparities are matched NAPS can be used for B.Voc just like how earlier NEEM scheme was also for 2 years , but, now it is extended to 3 years, similarly, duration of NAPS should be modified.
Q: Tell us about the context for the upcoming seminar “Skill India – The Way Forward in Higher Education” and your expectations.
A: Through the seminar, we want to know how the universities and colleges are offering their B.Voc courses, their strengths, their experience and issues faced in implementation. This is important in the light of the fact that some B.Voc colleges have closed since they were totally dependent on grants. When they couldn’t get grants on time, they had no option but to discontinue the programs. Hence, we need to explore how B.Voc can be offered as a self-supportive program, especially when there is a huge investment needed for infrastructure development and industry collaboration.
Q: Please elaborate on some key areas of focus for the upcoming seminar and your plans for post-event follow up.
A: Skill universities have to be treated differently from existing universities. Skill universities will have different norms in terms of faculty qualifications, requirements, skilled faculty with industry experience, how do we accredit trainers from the industry, such gray areas, all these things are not yet well-defined and therefore we need to have a lot of discussion around it.
We will take inputs from all panel members and participants, learn from their experiences and prepare a report for the government. This is to share our recommendations on successful implementation of B.Voc. There is also a debate whether we need a separate skill university or the existing colleges and universities can cover the vocational courses or both should coexist. At this moment, many things are not clear even at the government level.
Another important point on the agenda is about incentivizing industry participation in work-integrated learning? Under NAPS scheme there is some incentive for apprenticeships but we don’t have a similar provision for B.Voc. We have also invited international experts to understand and learn how they have made sustainable progress for example Germany, Korea and Singapore. We will get insights from them about operational issues as well as policy level changes.