Celebrating Skills, Hands On!

On 15th July 2015, countries across the globe celebrated the first World Youth Skills Day.

Tandulwadi program
A local entrepreneur addresses students of Koleshwar Vidyalay School, on occasion of WYSD

Koleshwar Vidyalay, a high school situated in the bustling little town of Tandulwadi, Maharashtra, too had planned a small program to mark the day. Associated with Lend-A-Hand India for 7 years now, they have been enthusiastic providers of skill education to their students. Students have been encouraged to apply their acquired skills in innovative and marketable projects, and several opt for technical education on graduation. It was only natural then that they chose to formally celebrate World Youth Skills Day. The school invited a local entrepreneur, Vijay Thorat to speak with the students and also to felicitate the Instructors who teach our multi skill vocational course in this school.

Vijay shared his own journey, from academic failure to establishing own business. He had failed his 12th exams, but did not get discouraged by it. Instead, he trained in a technical skill he eventually gained mastery over, going on to set up his own fabrication business. As a result, he shared, he was not only able to meet his and his family’s financial need but could also generate employment opportunities for others.

The story could be a prototype for small scale entrepreneurs dotting the Indian countryside. More importantly though it shows the potential of technical skills as a career pursuit.  For long underrated, regarded as a fall back option, it continues to be frowned upon by society. In pursuit of white collar dreams, parents and students would rather choose mainstream academics than elect for technical training, irrespective of aptitude and inclination. They fail to see that technical skills could give an edge over the competition in the job market, as emphasized by Vijay too in his address to the students.

However, against a global backdrop of skilled manpower shortage, there has been an increased thrust on the promotion of vocational and technical education and training. Towards this end, the World Youth Skill Day was instituted by the United Nations, a day which is as much about raising awareness as raising the status of technical and vocation skills.

On the national front, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose this occasion to launch four major skill development schemes.

9th Graders of a Pune Municipal Corporation School learn Food Processing Technique, a module of the NSQF compliant MSFC subject
9th Graders of a Pune Municipal Corporation School learn Food Processing Technique, a module of the NSQF compliant MSFC subject

This follows the landmark National Skill Qualification Framework, which was rolled out in December 2014. This framework is a phenomenal step towards formalizing skill education, providing for the recognition and accreditation of skills learnt from informal and non-formal sources as well.Additionally, it equates different levels of skills with their academic equivalent, thus allowing for practitioners of technical skills to acquire certificates and degrees in their specialization.

The stress on skill development on the national front has alongside emphasized the need for beginning skill education early, in schools. While vocational subjects have been offered to secondary school students for over four decades under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Vocationalisation of Secondary Education, NSQF linked vocational courses shall have an advantage. Students who opt for these subjects will receive NSQF certified credentials on completion of each level, alongside their secondary and higher secondary certificates.

In December 2014, Lend-A-Hand India partnered with the Government of Maharashtra to roll out an NSQF linked pilot project in 8 schools of the Pune Municipal Corporation. The first batch of 9th graders successfully completed Level 1 in Multi Skill Foundation Course/Retail, progressing to Level 2 in the respective subjects. We have also initiated these two NSQF recognized subjects in 10 Bombay Municipal Corporation School, beginning academic year 2015-16.

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