In February 2014, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had launched Bachelor of Vocation (B.Voc.) degree in a push for skill development-based curriculum in higher education. Almost four years later, about 40-50 percent seats across institutes lay vacant.
Several institutes, on condition of anonymity, told Moneycontrol that apart from the vacant seats, there have been drop-outs due to the flexibility given. About 200-plus institutes offer this degree in India.
A senior professor heading the course at a large institute in Maharashtra said that there is a lack of adequate connect with industry players to ensure that good placements track record can be achieved.
“Candidates have an option to either complete a degree or a diploma. We have witnessed a drop-out rate since several individuals do not want to wait for three years for a degree,” said the professor.
This programme is focused on universities and colleges providing undergraduate studies which has course content for specific job roles. Students completing the first year get a Diploma certificate, after the second year they get the Advanced Diploma certificate and after completion of the three years, the B.Voc. Degree is awarded.
The course curriculum has about 40 percent theory, while the rest 60 percent consists of vocational training. These programmes follow a semester system and offer credits after completion of the course. Compared to a regular programme, the course content is more equipped to what the industry wants as per the NSQF.
The National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) is a competency-based framework that organizes all qualifications according to a series of levels of knowledge, skills and aptitude.
While skilled labour is in high demand across sectors, especially in job intensive industries like manufacturing, IT and financial services, the uptake for the programmes has not been very high.
Another institute based in Delhi-NCR region had seen only 30 percent seats filled last year. However, they are still running the programme. The deputy dean of the institute said that industry partnerships, whereby they take a fixed percentage of the students of the course after the degree is completed, could lead to better outcomes.
Lack of soft skills has also been a factor pointed out by institutes leading to low employability of those doing B.Voc courses. One of the institutes pointed out the instance of a student who had passed the three years programme with good credits. Still he did not manage to secure an appropriate employment due to his inability to converse properly in English.
“Softer aspects like English and corporate behavioural aspects could be included in the curriculum to make the course a better success,” said a professor teaching vocational education at a Kolkata-based institute.
Industry research has also shown a similar response. A recent study by human resource firm TeamLease Services in association with TeamLease Skills University said that the current vocational education ecosystem has not been very successful in creating adequate employable job seekers in India.
In this study, more than 60 percent of the candidates and employers find vocational education courses to be ineffective. Further, from an employment point of view, the report states that only 18 percent of the students undergoing voc-ed courses get jobs, of which merely 7 percent are formal jobs.
As per the study, primary reasons for the disconnect between vocational education courses and the industry is the absence of rich academic content, inadequate funding and negative perception about these courses. Other than this another key issue in the system is the lack of awareness for these courses as well as the lack of scope for continued learning.
In fact, around 70 percent of the employers feel the quality of training provided by the vocational institutes is not up to the mark. Rather it is poor. Further, around 72 percent of the corporates interviewed felt the employability was also considerably low in candidates who are from the vocational education stream.This discontent over the training process is not only been felt by the employers, even students (42 percent) also agree that the training quality is below par.
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