By Anish Srikrishna, CEO, Times Professional Learning
As an alarming skill gap affects employment in each sector, we need to rethink the training and development of our workforce. The National Education Policy 2020, with a focus on skills development, will hold the key to restructuring the educational ecosystem to improve employment for future generations.
How will the national education policy help increase employment?
Technological advances over the past few decades have transformed every aspect of the work landscape, leading to a major shift in the expectation of efficiency from employers. In the context of this rapidly evolving work culture, the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 will be a key factor in the overall effort to equip our manpower to lead the change. This revolutionary policy has set the framework for deep educational reform, especially in higher education, with an emphasis on developing technical as well as soft skills among undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Indeed, employability is one of the focal points of NEP 2020, which recognizes the role of education in imparting proper skills to students. This is consistent with meeting policy objectives 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Aimed at “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education by 2030 and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The policy recognizes the importance of restructuring the education system to meet this goal.
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Dealing with skills challenges
This reconstruction of the educational ecosystem becomes essential when we consider the alarming skill gap that is affecting employment in each sector. The National Council for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (NCSDE), citing data from the International Labor Organization (ILO), has projected a deficit of 29 million by 2030. This gap has already taken effect, with 53% of Indian businesses reported to be disabled. Recruit suitable candidates due to lack of future skills.
Significantly, these skills gaps exist in various sectors from IT / ITES to manufacturing, pharma and infrastructure. It has very real economic costs, according to an Accenture report which predicts a loss of USD 1.97 trillion in GDP growth over the next 10 years. The NCSDE points to our inadequate education system as the main reason for this gap in skills. Interestingly, it also blames companies for failing to ensure job training.
Break from the traditional way
Against this background we must assess whether NEP 2020 could play a significant role in reversing the course. Here are some key initiatives that could help the emerging workforce increase employment:
Overall Education: Instead of the traditional content-heavy and root-learning approach, NEP emphasizes a more holistic approach. It calls for a creative and multi-disciplinary curriculum that includes humanities, sports and fitness, language, culture, arts and crafts, in addition to science and math. It recognizes soft skills such as communication, collaboration, teamwork and resilience as ‘life skills’. This modified approach is designed to help students develop academic skills with vital leadership skills that can help them on their career path.
Shown from different angles: Here, NEP 2020 breaks the mold of categorizing subject choices under the traditional buckets of science, commerce and humanities, allowing for more cross-sectional selection of courses. It signals a shift toward skill-based learning that helps students improve their core competencies rather than following a rigorous course selection process.
Pressure on vocational education: Perhaps the most significant element of NEP 2020 in promoting employment is the inclusion of vocational education and training. This ensures that the entire ecosystem of schools, colleges and universities will now include vocational education as part of their curriculum. It could potentially involve more than 280,000 schools and more than 40,000 higher education institutions in providing vocational training.
With the advent of Industry 4.0, hiring managers are now increasingly looking for people who can combine sector skills with digital skills and industry-based skills. NEP 2020 is an important step towards restructuring the educational ecosystem to meet the rapidly changing needs of employers. Vocational education institutions can play an important role in facilitating academic learning through their industry-based curricula and mentoring. With the inclusion of professional re-skilling and upskilling, these organizations serve as an important stakeholder in ensuring on-the-job training in corporate India.
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