Learner perspective – 4 A’s in skill development

[Notes from FICII “Learner First” – Knowledge paper on skill development in India]
To empower the working population, let us start from the source, i.e., the learner. 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?

Large learners are from a lower economic stratum and cannot afford to self-enrol in vocational education. They get caught in the vicious circle where the learner needs finances to educate himself in order to  get employment to become self-sufficient by earning an income. The vicious circle comes as surprise where the government supports the student across school education and suddenly  the learner lacks the funds for training in order to become financially self-sustained. Information overload confuses learners to end with hasty and conflicting career decisions.

Every skill development partner needs to address the 4 A’s challenges- Availability, Accessibility, Adaptability and Acceptability.

Availability: We need to address the basic requirement of a learner availability of  physical infrastructure and human resource (teachers) to impart skill-based training.

  • [Urban] The skill training provided by institutions is not job oriented.
  • [Urban] Lack of awareness about certain trades, with only a few trades attracting the majority of the learners.
  • [Rural] Low quality of education and high drop-out rates in  schools create learners with low educational qualifications. The school drop-out is high in SC/ST learners.
  • [Rural]  Existence of  a major gender bias toward women in  vocational training areas.
  • [Urban] The training courses are selected by the learners based on the availability of seats rather than their competencies.
  • [Rural] Majority of the employment exists is in the informal sector; training and other  interventions are not geared to the needs of this sector.
  • Lack of awareness about the courses present for the differently able students in vocational training.
  • Lack of special institutes to provide the required training and suitable employment opportunities for the differently able students.

Accessibility :  We need to address learners’ demand coming from varied geographies and socio-economic backgrounds such as education levels, income levels, industrial growth, etc. NGOs come here.

  • [Urban] Poor learners are unable to join courses at private training institutes that charge high training costs.
  • [Rural] Youth miss out on the opportunity on industrial training sponsored by various local and government agencies of urban areas.
  • [Rural] There are a less number of training institutes in rural areas
  • [Rural] The rural learner incurs a higher expense in obtaining training from urban centres and  to acquire   job information  for the rural youth.
  • [Rural] There is limited access to job-related information or skills that are currently in demand. There is a lack of proper guidance and counselling for skill development.
  • There is a lack of vocational rehabilitation institutions, which focus especially on differently able learners.

Adaptability Learners  need vertical mobility to enable learners to shift from skill-based training to academics and vice versa. The courses need to match with the learners’ requirements for well-established competency standards, affiliation and accreditation. There is a lack of a common national qualification framework that sets a competency framework for affiliation and for accreditation.

Acceptability  The curriculum framework derived from industry best practices and the framework design needs to keep learning more  relevant and not obsolete.

  • There is a lack of quality training infrastructure in poorer areas of large cities and small urban centres.
  • Rural areas lack qualified trainers.
  • The ICT Infrastructure is poor in rural areas. There is a need for rural broadband network, which can assist in skill training for rural learners.
  • The infrastructure at the training places is not well suited for the differently abled.

The corporate can engage in skill development as consumer of skilled man power, a non-profit firm to facilitate quality knowledge or a profit enterprise providing education.