As many as 9.34 million students are currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree, making it India’s most popular undergraduate programme (paywall). That’s followed by Bachelor of Science (4.68 million) and Bachelor of Commerce (4.03 million), according to the All India Survey of Higher Education. Experts feel the high number of students pursuing plain-vanilla BA is a problem – it doesn’t equip them with practical job-related skills and sometimes limits options outside of academics. Nearly one in four youngsters in India find it tough to land their first job, according to HBR’s Ascend Youth Skills Survey.
In 2022, India aims to create a resource pool of 500 million skilled workers. It is undoubtedly an ambitious agenda given the fact that the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), India’s skill development authority, could formally train barely 51 million in the last four years. Of these, only 21 millions managed to get jobs.
The survey sample is totally depended on data provided by 962 universities, 38,179 colleges and 9,190 standalone institutions across India.
The scale of what needs to be achieved is truly staggering but there a few lessons which India can draw from its neighbor and manufacturing giant China. In fact, the system helped China to successfully transform into world’s manufacturing hub after it produced millions of skilled workers. The technical vocational education and training (TVET) system ensures vocational training at the secondary level, higher educational institutes, adult training and retraining, training of vocational trainers, financing, and active participation of the local industries.
The curriculum is designed keeping in mind the needs of the local industries and the Chinese government bears more than 70 per cent cost of vocational education.
As per the experts the biggest disadvantage with such a high number of students are joining and looking for the Bachelor of Arts programme is that the course is not providing or real training to students any practical job-related skills.
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In India an education degree is still preferred to vocational training. We have to give more incentive to tilt the balance in favor of vocational courses.
Pursuing an Arts degree does not necessarily mean that the student will find it difficult to land a job. For example if you wanted to pursue Arts but instead did engineering and worked in the same for 3 years just because of family pressure because according to them an ARTS graduate is always unemployed. Today I’ve switched to UI/UX designing and when I am looking for a job as a designer I am getting rejected because I don’t have an ARTS degree. That’s just how it works. No particular degree is good or bad. Every degree has its own pros and cons.
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Instead of cursing a particular degree we should create jobs in all verticals. ‘Expert’ opinion like this will never allow us to move away from the thinking that doctors, engineers and CA are the only career options. It will only elicit the above thinking.