Introducing a transparent grading system for vocational training providers will improve their functioning, benefit students enrolling in these facilities, and also, provide momentum to the ‘Skill India Mission’ in a post-COVID scenario.
With the current economic environment raising the possibility of some vocational training providers (VTPs) exaggerating their credentials to attract students for bolstering incomes, authorities connected with promoting skill development should consider a ranking mechanism for VTPs so that those desirous of enrolling at such facilities may have a clear idea of the past performance of each institution on key parameters.
A transparent grading system for VTPs with highest weightages allocated to the placement record and employer perception of the training provider, and modelled on the lines of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) that assesses the performance of formal higher education institutions, would enable youths to take data-backed decisions on skills centres that are likely to benefit them most. And, at the same time,provide prospective skills trainees much greater power in determining a VTP’s continuing revenue-earning potential.
Such a step could also particularly ensure that young men and women living in villages and small towns do not lose out in the job race because of their inability to make the right choices on institutions to join for receiving skills-related training due to inadequate credible information being available in the public domain on how different VTPs compare with each other.
A VTP ranking system, moreover, could minimise the chances of potential skills trainees becoming victims of apparently misleading claims on job placements made by sundry vocational training providers. Considering that many young people who enrol at skills development institutions in India often display a sort of blind faith in such facilities and rarely, if ever, take any steps to verify the assertions made by vocational training providers about their placement record.
That is not all. A ranking framework for VTPs could benefit prospective skills trainees in other ways, too.The very existence of such a system may potentially prompt skills training organizations to significantly raise their game since not doing so could impact their turnover and profitability.Quality of service delivery on the training front could receive a huge boost once a grading methodology is put in place with the fear of losing trainees to competitors likely forcing training providers to improve their functioning.
Over the last few years, vocational training providers have mushroomed all over India, following the country according a lot of focus on providing market-relevant skills to youth on the lookout for jobs. Many of these skills training institutions, though, have faced questions about the quality of training being imparted and their placement initiatives.
The introduction of a rating mechanism for skills training organizations could enable authorities to identify weaknesses that exist in the skills ecosystem and thereafter take remedial measures to address the problem areas. And, in the process, provide momentum to the ‘Skill India’ Mission, which, like everything else, needs a reset following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For India to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) target of substantially increasing by 2030 “the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship”, the country needs its skills training providers to significantly improve their act. A ranking mechanism for vocational training providers could go a long way in making this possible and one can only hope that key stakeholders associated with the skills domain will give it a shot.
[The author is Advisor at the Gurgaon-based advisory on communications and stakeholder advocacy R M Consulting https://rmconsulting.in . Views expressed are personal.]
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