One of the biggest challenges facing India is unemployment among young higher education graduates. There are many factors that can lead to this kind of situation, but the big question is: do recent higher education graduates have the knowledge and skills to enable them to obtain suitable jobs? to their qualifications? It would be relevant to mention here that our education system places more emphasis on theoretical than practical knowledge. As a result, the system produces a large number of students who lack the skills to cope with the modern demands of manufacturing, non-manufacturing and industry units. They almost lack critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and the ability to learn new skills. Their capacities for collaboration and communication are weak. The use of technology as a tool for learning and communication is minimal. They are still part of the conventional system in which students progress by taking courses over a set period of time which may be a term or a semester. It’s more or less the same as what Dr Annie Besant has described as “Filling students’ heads with a lot of disjointed facts poured into heads like a basket, to be emptied again in the examination room and the empty basket done again in the world. “According to the analysis of the Wheebox National Employability Test survey for 2021,” there is still a lot of work to be done to equip the Indian youth talent pool with 21st century skills. A holistic approach to the employability landscape asserts that a mixture of technological familiarity and in-depth knowledge of the subject are two factors that influence an individual’s employability.
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It is common knowledge that young people in India after completing their higher education choose to undergo specific training or apprenticeship / internship in Public sector companies (UPS) like HMT, BHEL, SAIL, BEL, ONGC, CPRI, etc. or research agencies like HAL, DRDO, ISRO, etc. , metal, mining, coal, petroleum and capital goods. Some private non-government industries, corporations, commercial and non-commercial enterprises also help students in learning. Generally speaking, learning equips them with skills, exposes them to the latest technologies and instills in them a competitive spirit of collaboration and communication. If it is necessary for a large number of students to undergo an apprenticeship / internship after completing their graduate program to get a job, then the moot question is … why shouldn’t our education system do of the apprenticeship / internship a formal part of the graduate program?
Various governments have made efforts to improve the education system in order to make the growing workforce of young graduates employable. But these efforts have almost remained without integrating the concept of “skill development” Where ” learning by doing “ in the courses of the license program !!!
India has the third largest higher education system after the United States and China, with more than 1,000 universities and 52,000 colleges in 2020. Post-independence University Scholarships Commission (UGC), a statutory organization has been involved in the reform and overhaul of the higher education system in India. The central government, in its budget announcement for 2020-2021, emphasized the need to prepare new graduates for employment. In line with the New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 approved by the Indian government last year, UGC urged universities and others higher education institutes (HEIs) to offer integrated degree programs in apprenticeship / internship, the guidelines of which were sent in 2020. Institutions that already offer these programs have been invited to submit the relevant information by 10 October 2021. The main objective of this action appears and HEIs include apprenticeship / internship in general degree programs. As per the guidelines, at least 20% of the total credits of the integrated apprenticeship / internship study program must be allocated to the apprenticeship / internship. For the development of such a program, the UGC also involved Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), Board of Apprenticeship Training (BOAT), Indian Council of Technical Education (AICTE) and industrial organizations such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII ) for consultation.
UGC’s initiative to ensure that the large number of students enrolled each year in general degree programs like BA, B.Sc, B.Com. etc. employable through integrated apprenticeship / internship study programs are certainly progressive and deserve commendation. These programs will provide students pursuing general study programs the opportunity to obtain hands-on training and on-the-job learning in an identified business discipline in the premises of the workplace, such as commercial or non-commercial organizations, companies , offices or industrial or industrial associations for at least one semester. Through a blend of hands-on learning on the job and theoretical learning in the classroom at academic institutions, students will acquire the skills required by employers in both commercial and non-commercial organizations and industries. This will help the students to find a job. It should be mentioned that the changes to the Apprenticeship Law and Apprenticeship Rules from 2014 to 2019 enabled UGC to offer study programs integrated with apprenticeship / internship.
Although SSC and BOAT will provide guidance to HEIs to identify industries for apprenticeship / internship, the responsibility of having a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with discipline-specific commercial and non-commercial organizations or enterprises, offices, industries, etc. Although universities continue to make efforts to have interactions with industries due to one of the requirements of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council which accredits universities once, in five years, the result of such interactions is not very encouraging. Universities may find it difficult to enter into memoranda of understanding with discipline-specific organizations, businesses and non-university offices. Therefore, relevant ministries of central and state governments can urge industries, commercial and non-commercial organizations and offices to cooperate with higher education institutions to develop a memorandum of understanding with them. This will facilitate the conduct of the apprenticeship / internship of the students in the workplace of the units described above.
We can learn a lot from dual study programs, especially from the dual model of Vocational education and training (VET) in Germany which combine practical internships in companies / industries with academic training in higher education institutions / vocational schools which have cooperation contracts with companies / industries. They are practice-oriented, popular and contribute significantly to the German economy. Strong and consistent coordination between GOI, UGC, apprenticeship / internship agencies, SSCs, BOAT, AICTE and industry bodies such as FICCI and CII is necessary to achieve the improvement goal the employability of students pursuing general undergraduate degree programs. Students and agencies / learning units / internship should benefit from this program.
Dr Aqueel Khan,
Former teacher and director,
Postgraduate Department of Biochemistry RTM Nagpur University,
E-mail: [emailÂ protected]