Most skill development programmes in the country, whether of the government or other organisations seem to be tailed for those who are, or have been, unable, unwilling or for some reason incapable of completing a course of formal or even semi-formal school/college education. So we have colleges for engineers, doctors, architects and even those interested in catering. We have examinations for accountants, auditors and so on but no colleges or qualifying examinations for say a carpenter, a painter, an electrician or a mason.
So we have those in all these trades who have started out as helpers or assistants of more experienced craftsmen in that line, and by dint of their hard work and self-initiative, taken up independent jobs gradually making a name for themselves.
Formal school education is also standardised to mean every student takes up almost the same subject and course curriculum up to sixth or eighth standard, and then opted either for science or commerce. In junior college too there is mostly science and commerce, and in some cases arts too. So any choice of a formal career course say for law, catering, architecture, medicine or engineering comes up after these 121 years of standard education. It is almost taken for granted that those who cannot or do not wish to take up any of these options tries to go in for “skill development”, which means mobile repair, beautician etc.
We find many stories of children who dream of becoming engine-drivers or firemen. That is ofcourse just imagination. However, if a child even as young as twelve shows a keen inclination and talent to become an artist, and who might well opt to take it up as a career, why would such a child be forced to continue in the same formal courses which would not be useful at all to them in such a career.
While school might well be too early for a child to make such an important decision, in India at least, such a child is often forced to study some subject they have no aptitude for, just so that parents are happy their child is “atleast a graduate”.
Isn’t it about time, we broaden the choices in schools and colleges, and incorporate skill development options into the formal curriculum so that children and youngsters get much more choices? Why not introduce more vocational universities with courses like Bachelor in Construction Management with specialisation in masonry, electrical work, carpentry or house-p0ainting?
When the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yogana (PMKVY) was first introduced, there were reports that several vocational universities would come up with skill development being offered at graduate, post-graduate, even doctorate level. What happened to all those options? Were there not takers for this? Apart from more short-term courses in a lot of areas and functions, which are definitely useful and have opened up several opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship, not much seems to have been done in terms of longer courses and options.