I was reading a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development, written some years back, about the vocational education and training sector in Germany. Indeed this European country, which was in a shambles in the aftermath of the Second World War and was once a hotbed of rampant unionism and industrial unrest has drastically changed not only its skills ecosystem but also the way it is managing its employment problems.
A large part of the success of the German economy can be directly attributed to the importance it has placed on vocational education and training.
The OECD report starts by observing that vocational education and training are the bulwarks of German society. Not only are a wide range of qualifications and skills available suited to a broad spectrum of professions but these skills are adaptable to the changing needs of the labour market.
Both school education and work-based education are integrated so that they work cohesively together to generate employment for those passing out.
I simply have to quote from the report here: “A major strength of the dual system is the high degree of engagement and ownership on the part of employers and other social partners… The VET system as a whole is well-resourced, combining public and private funding.”
No doubt there are challenges within the system as the report has observed, but the system has worked and is working robustly since Germany has been one of the few countries in the Eurozone that continues to show healthy growth amidst the crisis and economic slowdown.
When I think of India’s vocational education system and the just launched Skills India campaign I think, one of the first things that the government needs to do is to engage with the corporates first.
There are certain places such as Aundh in Pune where close cooperation between corporates and Industrial Training Institutes has established that the people there get guaranteed employment.
We need to duplicate and replicate these bright spots of success in other parts of the country as well. It is doable and for that we need to get the industry and vocational education system on the same platform.