Career and Technical Education in the light of NEP-20

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By: M Ahmad

Education is the key to achieve full human potential, developing and promoting national development. Granting unlimited access to quality education is the solution for continued growth in economics, social justice and equality, scientific advancement, national integration, and cultural preservation. At the same time, the need for a skilled workforce is increasing in greater demand. Vocational training is the instructional program that prepares one for an occupation that requires a specialised skill, such as a technician, artisan or tradesperson. It may involve imparting classroom instructions, hands-on training or a combination of both. Secondary and higher secondary education in India usually includes one or two vocational subjects.

Still, real vocational training is imparted outside the formal education system and it often leads to a certification or a diploma. One may also undergo vocational training directly as an apprentice or a trainee with or without any formal qualification. Initial Vocational Education and Training prepares young men and women with the relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes to successfully enter the world of work or continue higher education. It is education that prepares people to work as a technician or to take up employment in a skilled craft or trade as a tradesperson or artisan. It is sometimes referred to as career and technical education.

With the roll-out of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, vocational education has garnered the required spotlight. The NEP 2020 is a comprehensive policy document that extensively discusses the revamping of vocational education. The policy focuses on bringing vocational education into mainstream education, as recommended by successive commissions on education over the years. The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 suggests the integration of vocational education into mainstream education in all educational institutions in a phased manner over the next decade. It proposes the revision and revamping of all aspects of education, including the educational structure, regulations and governance, to create a new system which is aligned with the aspirational goals of 21st century students.

According to NEP 2020, by 2025, at least 50% of learners shall have vocational exposure through school and higher education. Every child is supposed to learn at least one vocation and be exposed to several more. The NEP 2020 stated that there will be ‘no hard separation’ between the ‘vocational and academic streams. School students will have 10 bagless days in a year, during which they are to be exposed to a vocation of choice. This will be supplemented by experiential vocational learning from Grades 6 to 8. Every student will take a fun course during Grades 6 to 8 that gives a survey and hands on experience of vocational crafts. Skill labs will also be set up and created in the schools in a Hub and Spoke model, which will allow other schools to use the facility.

The vocational education system in schools will be reintegrated under National Skills Qualifications Framework for providing training to the dropouts. Bachelor in Vocation (B.Voc.) programme offered by higher education institutions is to be expanded and a credit-based framework will facilitate mobility across general and vocational education.  At the Secondary stage i.e., for students of ages 15 to 18 years or Grades IX to XII, every student will receive training in at least one vocation, and more if they are interested.

The entire four-year period in secondary school, Grades IX to XII, can be used not just to expose a student to different vocations but to help him/her to progressively build a considerable degree of expertise (number of courses) that a particular student takes should be left entirely to them. Regarding the appointment of teachers, the NEP 2020 has laid emphasis on recruiting adequate teachers of vocational subjects to schools and school complexes as well as hiring a local eminent person or expert as a master instructor in various subjects, such as traditional local arts, vocational crafts, entrepreneurship, agriculture, or any other subject where local expertise exists to benefit students and help preserve and promote local knowledge.


  • No hard separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extra-curricular activities, between vocational and academic streams, etc.
  • The Secondary Stage will comprise of four years of multidisciplinary study, building on the subject-oriented pedagogical and the students shall have the option of exiting after Grade 10 and re-entering in the next phase to pursue vocational or any other courses available in Grades 11- 12th.
  • Students will be given increased flexibility and choice of subjects to study, particularly in secondary school – including subjects in physical education, the arts and crafts, and vocational skills – so that they can design their own paths of study and life plans.
  • Integration of vocational education programmes into mainstream education in a phased manner, including beginning with vocational exposure at early ages in middle and secondary school.
  • Important vocational knowledge will be made accessible to students through integration into vocational education courses.
  • Vocational education will be integrated into all school and higher education institutions in a phased manner over the next decade.
  • Individual institutions that are early adopters must innovate to find models and practices that work and then share these with other institutions through mechanisms set up by NCIVE, so as to help extend the reach of vocational education.
  • Different models of vocational education, and apprenticeships, will also be experimented by higher education institutions.
  • Incubation centres will be set up in higher education institutions in partnership with industries.
  • The National Skills Qualifications Framework will be detailed further for each discipline vocation and profession.
  • The credit-based Framework will also facilitate mobility across ‘general’ and vocational education.

Challenges and deficiencies to overcome:

  • Teachers, especially at higher secondary levels, are not fully skilled to teach vocational courses and sufficient teachers with proper skilled training is required.
  • The curriculum of vocational courses at school levels is fragmented and disjointed. There is no proper detailed curriculum, only basic introduction to all the vocational courses, which proves to be ineffective in sparking an interest in vocational education among school students. The existing system fails to attract students from taking up vocational courses in future and this needs to be rectified.
  • Apart from the other issues, vocational schooling creates a sense of ‘second class’ schooling among the students. A student pursuing a vocational course is considered weaker in education to those students opting for mainstream higher education avenues. This inferiority complex needs to be given due care.
  • Irrelevance of courses leading to a mismatch between the labour market needs and the training skills which needs to be addressed.
  • Overall poor enrolment in vocational stream for which more stress on publicity , advertisement and counseling is required.

Vocational training focuses on developing technical skills for a specific job or trade. It offers practical knowledge in contrast to theoretical knowledge offered by the conventional formal education system. Understanding different vocational training options can help choose the right one for the career growth and development.

The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 shall have potentially explosive growth of vocational education in the country since it requires all educational institutions to integrate vocational education into their offerings. This will bring in a very large number of schools, colleges and universities into the fold of potential Vocational Education and Training providers during the coming decade and making vocational education available to millions of students.

The writer is a regular writer for this newspaper and can be reached at [email protected]

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