It has been our pursuit to present conversations with skilling experts who have worked with various models of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in India and abroad. A question we’ve been exploring concerns what India can learn from the German Dual Model of VET.
As a part of our partnership with GOVET, BIBB, we are glad to share a Skill Talk with Dr. Raj Dravid, President, EcoDev Foundation and former COO, IL&FS. Dr. Dravid has been at the forefront of many skilling initiatives in India and closely worked with the German Model of VET. Let’s read his views on how India can adapt the best practices from Germany to sustain, strengthen and consolidate the evolving skills ecosystem.
Q: Please tell us about your association with the German organizations in the field of VET.
A: IL&FS has been an early pioneer in developing a robust skill delivery model in the country and was looking for models in other countries. In October 2010, I had an opportunity to visit Berlin at the invitation of iMOVE and BIBB. During the visit, I was exposed to many vocational education institutions as well as interactions with experts. After my return to India, I invited a delegation from the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts and we then entered into an MoU via iMOVE to get the German experts to come to IL&FS and help us in creating course content, evaluate our design and certify them.
Q: With many years of experience in the field of VET that involves implementing VET schemes in India and you have seen different VET systems across the world. Can you share some of your experiences in this regard?
A: It’s globally recognized that the most robust proven VET system is from Germany. In India, when you look back, it was the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) that took the initiative and aligned VET as a means for poverty alleviation and skill development.
Since then, Indian policy makers have made the twin goals of poverty alleviation and skill development as the main policy plank. Unfortunately, the focus has tilted more on poverty alleviation than skills training. Let me elaborate on this. Most of the rural youth have little or no formal education. Even those who have any kind of formal education have very little real knowledge of many subjects.
When these youth are brought to the classes the outcome is far from encouraging. Most of the youth came to the classes because they were getting free breakfast, lunch and dinner. Many left the training mid-way. There was no proper entry gate assessment in terms of identifying their aptitude. The duration of the training was 240 hours which was hardly adequate. This has also affected placements and increased attrition rates at the time, but these shortcoming have now been addressed.
Q: Could you share a few key areas where India has to focus in order to adopt and adapt the German Model of VET?
A: Germany has achieved a perfect model of Public Private Partnership for VET. The government support to the vocational schooling system and the industry preparedness to allow the students to be trained in the company premises is the sort of win-win approach that India needs to adopt wholeheartedly. In fact, the Corporates through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) should have the training of youth and their subsequent absorption in the industry as its primary objective.
Although much talked about, the use of simulators for learning is an area where we can learn from Germany. Even today trades like welding, spray painting we see instructors using the traditional way of wasting raw materials. The training can be given via simulators. It needs a change in the mindset.
Indian VET needs to adopt the foundational learning elements comprising language proficiency, numerical ability, soft skills along with digital literacy as a holistic and not piecemeal module. That should be the fundamental prerequisite.
The integration of VET in the schools and colleges has to happen seamlessly. When the same rewards are made available for the students who pass out from the graduates from vocational and non-vocational streams the message goes loud and clear.
Q: What about the technical trainers and teachers working in institutions like ITIs? How do we adopt a few best practices from the German VET model?
A: The quality of instructors is a major area of concern. Regular updating through ToT is needed and instructors need need to be groomed and paid well to become best in class instructors. Moreover, the right selection of youth through proper entry gate assessment will ensure that the students are committed to learn. Training manuals have to be best in class.
We can learn a lot by looking and studying at the German handbooks and manuals On the practical front, training should be delivered on the latest machines. For example, in the context of apparel making, once you know how to handle the machine, stitching a particular garment becomes easy. Also, it has been observed that training on speed and accuracy in handling a machine makes a difference in terms of productivity.
Despite the focus on developing the centres of excellence in the Industrial Technical Institutes the ground reality is far from satisfactory. The quality of the instructors, the pedagogy, the infrastructure leave a lot to be desired. The need of the hour is to expose Indian instructors to the German way of delivering training extensively. Just like China imported hundreds of English teachers from the UK and USA to teach English to their youth, we need to have cross exchanges happening frequently.
Q: We understand, in Germany, the industry has played a vital role in partnering the government in implementing VET. How do we catalyse similar movement in India?
In India, the almost passive role of the Industry for whom the youth are getting prepared is a matter of great concern. Except for tokenism I have not observed great enthusiasm from the industry. Somehow the feeling is that it is the government‘s job to finance and promote VET. It can’t just be the government’s one-sided concern!
Sector Skill Council (SSC) have a long way to go to make them truly representative of the industry. And therein lies one major difference between the German Dual system of VET and the Indian system. In Germany, as part of the dual system one gets to attend the classes at the vocational school and also receive on-the-job training at a company.
Typically – as we know from the German VET system – one or two days a week the student spends at a vocational school (called Berufsschule) and the rest of the week is spent learning the trade at the company premises. The school-based vocational training slightly differs from dual training. It usually lasts between one to three years. In addition, Germany has the Dual Vocational degrees (ausbildungsintegriertes duales Studium) that offers the degree certificate at a higher education institution.
The moot point is how in India we can expect Welders, Fabricators, etc. to be world class within six months, when the required preparedness at the student level, the competence at the instructor level and the content of international standard is lacking.
Also read: German Dual VET and its potential for the international context – visit: https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/dual-vet-and-its-potential-for-the-international-context/
Q: Can apprenticeships imbibe the essence of German Model of VET, if strategically implemented by the MSMEs?
A: While the latest amendments in the Apprenticeship Act in India are praiseworthy, we must develop a conducive culture like in Germany that gives enough respect and credibility to the apprentices.
The MSME clusters have a huge role to play in implementing apprenticeships. They need to be supported with the best-in-class instructors who are properly trained, refreshed and reskilled continuously. This needs to be taken as seriously as the training of a pilot who has to fly Boeing 707 and has to graduate to Boeing 737 through rigorous training!
Today, with the active promotion of apprenticeship scheme and orientation towards demand-driven training, India should be able to see active involvement of the industry. This is the only way one can imbibe the essence of the German Model of VET and extend its advantages to the MSMEs.