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Proposal for Computerized Vocational Training
1. Need for vocational training
The speed of a nation’s development is directly related to the quantity and quality of vocational skills possessed by its workforce. The wider the range and higher the quality of vocational skills, the faster the growth and more prosperous the society.
In the coming decade, an additional eight million young people will enter India’s labour force every year in search of employment. Currently only 5% of the country’s labour force in the 20-24 age category have formal vocational training, compared with 28% in Mexico, 60 to 80% in most industrialized nations, and as much as 96% in Korea.
The availability of employable skills is one of the major determinants of how readily new job seekers find employment. The very low level of employable skills makes the search for work much more difficult. It reduces the market value of the job seeker and adds to the costs of employers that must train new recruits from scratch.
India has over 4200 industrial training institutes imparting education and training 43 engineering and 24 non-engineering trades. Of these, 1654 are government run ITIs (State governments) while 2620 are private. The total seating capacity in these ITIs is 6.28 lakh. Most of this training is conducted in classroom style in the form of 1 to 2 year diploma courses.
In addition, about 1.65 lakh persons undergo apprenticeship vocational training every year in state-run enterprises. If a wider definition of applied courses is taken that includes agricultural, engineering and other professional subjects, the total number receiving job related training is about 17 lakh per annum, which still represents only 14% of new entrants to the workforce.
The limitations in the existing approach to vocational training have been highlighted in the Planning Commission Report of the Task Force on Employment Opportunities (2001). They include outdated courses for which there is little demand, shortage of suitably trained faculty, inadequate infrastructure, and unreliable testing.
There is a great unmet need for shorter vocational training programmes that job seekers can take on their own time and at their own pace and at relatively low cost. In addition there is also need for a wide range of vocational courses for those who are already employed but seek to broaden or upgrade their skills to keep pace with changing needs and to further their career opportunities.
The lack of vocational training applies at all levels, from basic mechanical skills needed for operating and repairing equipment to jobs in sales, administration and management, including specialized occupations such as bookkeepers, insurance agents, pharmaceutical marketing, travel agents, food service managers, journalism, etc. It applies also to a wide range of value-added skills for enhancing the performance of workers in different occupations, such as safe driving, industrial safety, quality control, pollution control, water conservation, rainwater harvesting, energy conservation, customer service, etc.
The overall importance of upgrading vocational skills in India is highlighted by the following statement of the Task Force on Employment Opportunities:
“To summarise, the rate of growth of economy cannot be accelerated, in particular in the labour intensive sectors, if there is a general lack of skills among the work force. The example of software industry is sufficient to illustrate what can be done by the Indian youth if the right training facilities are afforded by the society. This requires strengthening of the existing training system. The role of public sector has to be restructured and conditions created for inflow of funds at a much larger scale than at present. Role of private sector has to be expanded sharply if the requisite resources are to be brought in to bridge the large capacity gaps that exist. The vocational training policy has to respond to this challenge.”
This proposal is intended to meet the need for short, low cost and easily accessible vocational training courses. The aim is to establish computerized vocational training programmes that can benefit 10,000,000 students per year, 6 times the number that currently benefit under all existing training schemes.
2. Computer as a learning tool
The importance of computer has been widely recognized as a means to improve efficiency in business, government and formal education, but its application in vocational training is not fully appreciated. Rates of learning on computer are four to ten times faster than they are in classroom setting and learning retention is likely to be much higher. This is true for both academic as well as vocational or skill-based subjects.
Computers offer several advantages for rapid and effective learning. In computerized learning,
- Multimedia – Computerized courses combine written, spoken, graphic, animated and motion picture imagery to communicate concepts and illustrate applications that cannot be done in a classroom setting.
- Interactive – Students can interact with the training program at every moment to obtain more information, qualify their understanding and test their knowledge.
- Immediate Feedback – Computerized training has the additional advantage that it can provide immediate feedback to each student at every step of the learning process, which live classroom teaching cannot do.
- Paced Learning– Students proceed at their own pace according to their own capacity, so it is never too fast for comprehension or too slow to hold their interest.
For many types of vocational skills, computerized training also offers specific advantages over the live delivery of skills in a classroom.
- Eliminates need for teacher training – Computerized courses ensure that the highest quality of knowledge and presentation are available equally to all students, whereas teaching standards in existing vocational institutions vary enormously.
- Response to changing skill needs – Computerized courses can be rapidly modified or replaced in response to changing needs in the employment market, whereas classroom courses are difficult to change, since it involves changing of textbooks and retraining of instructors, so they tend to remain the same for many years.
- Uniform testing – Computerized courses also make possible uniform testing and evaluation by the computer software itself purely on objective criteria.
While is some instances, computerized training will need to be supplemented with hands-on training or apprenticeship experience, the need will actually be far less than expected. Computerized simulation has been proven an effective training tool even for learning complex vocational skills such as flying an aircraft or handling sophisticated military equipment.
The objective of this proposal is to establish a state-wide network of computerized vocational training centers covering every village in the country and offering training courses on a wide range of occupational skills.
- Establish 50,000 training institutes in the country.
- Establish 40,000 training centres as privately owned businesses.
- Establish 10,000 training centres in engineering colleges, arts colleges, ITIs and high schools that have spare computer lab capacity available for morning or evening use.
- Provide vocational training to [GJ1] a minimum of 10,000,000 students per annum.
- Generate self-employment for 40,000 entrepreneurs.
- Generate employment in the training institutes for an additional 80,000 shop training assistants.
4. Types of Training Centres
- Computerized vocational courses can be offered through:
- Liberal Arts and Engineering Colleges – Using the existing computer facilities available at arts, science and commerce colleges, vocational training courses can be offered both to students and the general public.
- Industrial Training Institutes & Polytechnics – Using the existing computer facilities available at polytechnics and other training institutions, vocational training courses can be offered both to students and the general public.
- Private Training Institutes – The Government should promote the establishment of thousands of private training institutes (“job shops”) to make vocational training available in every locale, on a parallel to the STD booth.
- High Schools – Public and private high schools equipped with computers can also be included in the network of training institutes.
5. “Job Shops”
- The concept is that private individuals will establish the training centres or “Job Shops” in both urban and rural areas under a self-employment scheme.
- Each centre will provide training on a range of occupational skills.
- Training material will be offered in a CD-Rom format, so that no internet connection is required. This will improve accessibility, reduce the cost and eliminate connectivity problems. (Supplementary internet based training may also be offered where feasible.)
- Each centre will consist of one to ten computer terminals and a library of training CDs.
- Customers will be able to rent the computer time and CDs on an hourly or course basis. For example, if a course on sales training requires 50 hours to complete, the customer will pay a total fee for the course and be entitled to 50 hours of computer use for completing the course (e.g. within a period of three to six months time.)
6. Training Course Material
- Each centre will maintain a library of popular training courses from which clients may select the topics of their interest. A sample list of topics is appended to indicate the range of skills that can be offered.
- The availability of computerized training material for a large number of vocational skills is critical to the success of the project. Some of the training material can be drawn from the large number of educational CDs already created in India and overseas (e.g. bookkeeping, sales training, etc.).
- But a large number of new training programmes will have to be created by collaboration between the Government and companies with expertise in the design and development of computerized training courses, such as NIIT, Aptech, Pentasoft and others. These firms will be interested to produce the course material, if they are assured of a large market for the courses.
- Wherever feasible, course will be certified by a recognized institution to signify that they are of acceptable quality.
7. Role of the Government
The role of the Government should include the following:
- Arrange for delivery of vocational training courses through all state-owned and managed engineering colleges, ITIs, Polytechnics, liberal arts colleges, high schools and related training institutions that are already equipped with computerized training equipment.
- Provide financial assistance and incentives under one of the Central Government self-employment schemes to promote establishment of 40,000 private training institutes as a self-employment programme for entrepreneurs.
- Approach financial institutions such as IDBI and the nationalized banks to provide loans to entrepreneurs for establishment of private training institutes.
- Negotiate with computer software companies for the design and production of a wide range of vocational training courses. Each course can be developed in conjunction with a recognized institutional authority that will certify the contents of the course.
- Negotiate for bulk purchase of approved training software on behalf of private training institutes in order to minimize the cost of training.
- Provide training to entrepreneurs on how to set up and manage a private institute, including training on marketing and pricing of courses.
- Provide scholarships to very low income youth to offset a portion (from 25 to 75% depending on income group) of the cost of training.
- Eliminate all taxes and duties on computer parts and equipment in order to bring down the price of PCs to a level affordable by much larger numbers of people.
- Institute a cash award for anyone who invents a low cost computer that will significantly reduce the cost of the PC.
8. Economics of a Job Shop
- Three computers per Job Shop consists of three computers
- 20 vocational training programmes per Job Shop
- Each computer is utilized for an average of 300 hours per month or 3600 per year.
- Operating expenses for rent, two paid employees, phone, electricity may range from Rs 15,000 to 20,000 per month
- Total Investment and Cost of Operations based on these assumptions
- Total capital investment may be around Rs 1.5 lakh.
- Cost of operations per computer hour = Rs 17 to 23 per hour.
- Cost of amortising of computers and software over two years = Rs 14 per hour
- Average cost of training = Rs 30 to 40 per hour
- Net profit = Rs 10 per hour or Rs 1,00,000 per annum
- Average retail price of training = Rs 40 to 50 per hour
- Based on these assumptions, 50 hours of computerized vocational training, which is equivalent to about 250 hours of classroom training, would cost the student only Rs 2500.
9. Financial Requirements of the Programme
- a. The Government can utilize existing computer infrastructure in educational and training institutions to set up the network of institutes. It need not invest in hardware.
- b. To the extent that public institutions will be part of the network, the Government will have to invest in purchase of training software. Assuming that 25,000 public institutions participate in the programme and that each centre requires Rs 2 lakh of educational software, the total cost would be Rs 500 crores.
- c. There will be no direct investment by the Government in private training centres, but the Government may offer incentives to encourage establishment of these businesses.
- d. The Government can also provide scholarships to encourage poorer persons to take the vocational courses.
Partial List of Proposed sCourses for Computerized Vocational Training
- Book-keeper *
- Shop clerk
- Store manager
- Sales training *
- Sales manager
- Telemarketing phone skills
- Customer service phone skills
- Advertising agent
- Marketing manager
- Purchasing & Store Keeping
- Teacher presentation & communication skills
- Teaching assistant
- School manager/administrator
- Library & information management
- Travel agent
- Food service manager
- Hotel manager
- Housekeeping supervisor
- Laundry supervisor
- Dry cleaning operator/ supervisor
- Reporter – print & electronic
- Subeditor – print & electronic
- Image processing (scanning)
- Still & motion photography
- Photographic processing & touch-up
- Video editing
- Film making
Language & Computer
- Computer operator
- Internet researcher
- English pronunciation *
- Spelling & grammar *
- Farm managers
- Water management
- Soil lab technician
- Crop management – each major field, cash & plantation crop
- Pest control
- Pump maintenance & repair
- Tractor maintenance & repair
- Organic farming
- Rainwater harvesting
- Pollution control
- Water conservation
- Bio-gas production
- Bio-mass energy
- Health Worker
- Child Care & Nutrition
- Pharmaceutical medical representatives
- Dental assistant
- Medical secretary/assistant
- Med lab assistant
Legal & Financial
- Insurance agent
- Law clerk/secretary
- Quality manager
- Safety manager
- Environmental manager
- Traffic rules for drivers
- Traffic policing skills
- Safe driving for car, lorry & bus drivers
- Car, bus & lorry mechanics
- 2 & 3 wheeler mechanic
- Bicycle mechanic
- Electrical maintenance & repair
- AC maintenance & repair
- Xerox maintenance & repair
- Electrical appliance repair
- Home appliance repair
- Computer repair
- Graphic design
- Interior design
- Landscape design
- Textile design
- Furniture design
- Florist & floral design