India has the advantage of the “demographic dividend,” which can be cultivated to build a skilled workforce in the near future.
India has gradually evolved as a knowledge-based economy due to the abundance of capable, flexible and qualified human capital. However, there is a need to further develop and empower the human capital to ensure the country’s global competiveness.
Despite the emphatic stress laid on education and training in this country, there is still a shortage of skilled manpower to address the mounting needs and demands of the economy.
As an immediate necessity that has urgently arisen from the current scenario, the government is dedicatedly striving to initiate and achieve formal/informal skill development of the working population via education/vocational education/skill training and other upcoming learning methods.
Percentage of workforce receiving skill training (2008)
Source:Planning Commission Report (2008)
The skill development of the working population is a priority for the government. This is evident by the exceptional progress India has witnessed under the National Policy on Skills (2009) over the years.
The objective of the policy is to expand on outreach, equity and access of education and training, which it has aimed to fulfill by establishing several industrial training institutes (ITIs), vocational schools, technical schools, polytechnics and professional colleges to facilitate adult leaning, apprenticeships, sector-specific skill development, e-learning, training for self employment and other forms of training.
The government therefore provides holistic sustenance through all its initiatives in the form of necessary financial support, infrastructure support and policy support.
The current focus of skill development has shifted to the learner and his/her needs and expectations from vocational education and training (VET). To empower the working population, is it essential to start from the source, i.e., the learner. The “voice” of the learner is the focal point of the mission, without which an effective conclusion to and attainment of the final goal would be incomplete.
India has the advantage of the “demographic dividend” (younger population compared to the ageing population of developed countries), which can be cultivated to build a skilled workforce in the near future. For these reasons and several others, the aim of the paper is to understand and comprehend the issues surrounding vocational education and training by putting the Learner first.
This paper makes an effort to identify the learner of today’s India. The comprehensive profiling of the learner is attempted by considering key questions on the topic such as:
- Who is the learner?
- What are his/her goals, aspiration, challenges?
- Why does he/she seek any form of education?
- When does he/she seek education?
- Where can he be found?
- How can a platform be created to address all his/her concerns?