Friday, October 14, 2011

Ministries fight over vocational education

A row has broken out between the ministries of labour and human resource development over the latter’s attempt to lay down a framework for vocational education. Officials at the Ministry of Labour, the nodal agency for vocational education, say the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is stepping on their toes by proposing a national vocational education framework.

But MHRD officials argue that the labour ministry has failed to meet rising skilled manpower requirement, creating the need for them to step in and integrate skill training with mainstream education. The government has asked the labour ministry to create a pool of 100 million skilled workers by 2022, as part of an overall target of 500 million workers, to meet the needs of various industries.

The labour ministry supervises more than 9,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Industrial Training Centres, where at least 1.2 million students are enrolled. Though the labour ministry has its own accrediting body and institutes to design courses, monitor and issue certificates, the MHRD plans to link these functions with private bodies, such as sector skill councils, under its vocational education framework, two labour ministry officials said.

“They are entering our domain,” said R.L. Singh, who heads the Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGET) under the labour ministry. “What is the accountability mechanism the HRD (ministry) is working on for the vocational framework?” Three rounds of discussion have failed to sort out differences between the ministries, said a second labour ministry official. “We can take this to the Prime Minister’s Office,” this official said, asking not to be identified.

A MHRD official said the labour ministry has failed to perform its task. “We are the ministry in charge of education, and are free to design our own course and have our own affiliation. As such, the ITIs are not great examples of quality vocational training institutes,” said the official, requesting anonymity. The official said 22 ministries, including HRD, have been tasked with creating the required pool of workers under a national skill development mission.

S.J. Amalan, head of the Regional Directorate of Apprenticeship Training, Kolkata, a body under the labour ministry, said the labour ministry’s stance is correct, but it needs to expand its capacity-building network. “We have to be contemporary and industry-worthy while expanding our base,” he said. Students seeking certification from the labour ministry sometimes get caught up with procedural delays, Amalan said. The ministry should expedite the process.

The MHRD earlier had a similar row with the Ministry of Health over the regulation of medical education. The health ministry prevailed by retaining the right to monitor and regulate medical education and the practice of medicine.

Source: Mint, October 14, 2011

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