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Experiential learning, vocational education key to creating future-ready talents

Experiential learning, vocational education key to creating future-ready talents

With a powerful demographic edge and a potentially transformational education policy at work, India can hopefully look forward to finally evolving an education system that works for all.

NEP's recommendation to bring vocational education programmes into mainstream education is expected to have a far-reaching positive impact on how the Indian workforce will shape up over the next decade. NEP's recommendation to bring vocational education programmes into mainstream education is expected to have a far-reaching positive impact on how the Indian workforce will shape up over the next decade.

Experts advocate that experiential learning and conceptual understanding have to become the foundation of our education system as we transition from a conventional marks-based assessment model to one that pushes innovation and creativity to the maximum. Also, the emotional quotient needs to be incorporated into the learning process.

Parag Diwan, Chairman of Paradigm Consultants & Resource Management, a management consulting firm, explains that experiential learning requires the learner to act in the real world, rather than learn only from lectures. 

This type of learning pushes students beyond the traditional classroom walls, by focussing on inquiry, application, and authentic learning opportunities. 

Also Read: Multidisciplinary learning critical to produce holistic individuals

"Experiential learning is mandatory, otherwise education amounts to only theoretical learning," says Diwan, who is closely associated with the education sector and was previously President and CEO of Great Lakes Education Group. 

"Experiential education teaches students to examine their actions and their thought processes, and even their emotional responses. This internal reflection prepares students for the workplace and helps them make major life choices, improve their personal relationships, and address their emotional needs."

NEP's recommendation to bring vocational education programmes into mainstream education is expected to have a far-reaching positive impact on how the Indian workforce will shape up over the next decade. 

The policy aims to introduce at least 50 per cent of learners to vocational education courses. Teaching of vocational courses from Class VI, mostly in the form of internships and practical activities, could become transformational in many ways. 

Educationists and academics call for the merger of different skill and trade sectors and increased participation of industry bodies in educational experiments to create better employment opportunities.

"Our ITIs, polytechnic and community colleges should be merged into one trade school, so that at least 30-40 per cent of our school leavers would be able to go to trade schools," says Diwan. "The vocational programmes should cover new and emerging industries," he adds.

On the other hand, Rajiv Tandon, CEO - Executive Education, BITS Pilani, Work Integrated Learning Programmes (WILP) says employers cannot just demand job-ready people; rather, they need to collaborate with institutions to build the next generation of talent. 

He urges policy interventions that encourage industry to work with institutions and also inspire institutions to go beyond their campuses to create future-ready talent. 

"Industry is also intensely looking for the right people to recruit. There should be a policy or a model where educational institutions can work with an employer to collaborate in educational experiments," Tandon says. 

"It can be a long-term solution beyond finishing school programmes or short courses to help people get their first job. Top employers and institutions are able to foresee 5-10-year trends; they can join hands with educational institutions and create that talent for the future," he adds.

The pandemic, though not by design, has fast-forwarded innovations. Initially, innovation was focused on learning continuity. And now, the learnings from the pandemic in terms of access and quality need to be scaled to a new level and new models of hybrid learning built to suit the hybrid-work world. 

With a powerful demographic edge and a potentially transformational education policy at work, India can hopefully look forward to finally evolving an education system that works for all.

Published on: Feb 12, 2022, 3:41 PM IST
Posted by: Manali, Feb 12, 2022, 3:38 PM IST