TO CHURN out an “employable and skilled” workforce — just about a
fourth of engineering graduates are employable, according to studies by
FICCI and NASSCOM — a committee set up by the HRD Ministry has proposed
to tweak the “rigid” structure of higher learning that is “disconnected”
with requirements of the workplace.
The panel headed by Madhya Pradesh Education Minister Archana
Chitnis has proposed a window in the post-school education so a
student, should she so wish, can complete a degree course in less than
three years; opt for a modular credit-based course — exit midway after
banking credits and rejoin later — or take short-term skill enhancing
courses irrespective of qualification, not unlike at community colleges
in the US. The ministry has accepted the proposal.
Of India’s 51 crore workforce, more than 4.6 crore are
unemployed, and this number could rise, the committee has warned, unless
workplace requirements are factored in the syllabi and a flexible and
open skill-based education system is created to cater to a huge
potential workforce outside mainstream education.
Modelled on the community colleges of the US, the system proposed
by the Chitnis committee is expected to take off with 100 colleges —
which will offer a mix of “knowledge and skill” through degree, honours,
certificate, diploma and associate degree courses broken into
credit-based modules — in the 12th Five-Year Plan. India is estimated to
require more than 31,000 skill-based colleges and the committee has
suggested that some polytechnic and vocational institutes be upgraded to
community colleges to fill this huge gap.