With the commencement of the academic session of 2017-18, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) decided to make a few changes in the course structure of its senior secondary schooling. Prime amongst them was to create a vocational subject compulsory as a part of the curriculum. This decision caused some inconvenience to the little minds considering the enigma around vocational subjects, and albeit provoked the thoughts of thousands of Indians. After all, for so long, people have believed that core subjects are of utmost importance.
To satisfy such intrigue, one must know what a vocational subject is and how pursuing it is essential. The Oxford dictionary explains vocational education as training about a particular occupation and its skills. It holds unparalleled importance; as our country transitions into the tertiary sector; which focuses on the practical knowledge of the person rather than the degree they hold.
After a lot of pondering and brainstorming, the following are some crucial points about vocational education that have reached maximum consensus; from educationalists and the masses.
There is no doubt in the fact that vocational education improves the chances of a newly graduated to get employed. Imagine you were to hire someone to manage the social media handles of your company. Which one of the candidates would you hire, a graduate with no other skills or someone with knowledge of media management along with a graduate degree? The answer is quite unambiguous.
As depicted by the previous example, priority is given to those who have skills in addition to theoretical knowledge. One may be a university topper but may not excel in their job due to the lack of the skill set required. Vocational education pursued at any level ensures a basic skill set necessary for the professional world.
Empowering the citizens:
With the help of vocational education, people have better chances of employment and sustenance, especially in the rural areas and for women. The initiative of empowering people through professional training has been taken by many government agencies like the Army and other philanthropists. Along with empowering people, it also helps contribute to the economy by allowing better utilization of human resources of the economy.
Restructuring the educational system:
Debate regarding the usefulness of the current educational system has been going on since ages. Our current system promotes rote learning and emphasizes on marks more than skills. With the introduction of vocational education, the educational system has improved up to a considerable level; which gives us all the hope for a better and reformed structure in the coming years.
Practical use of theoretical knowledge:
What is the use of reading all those heavy textbooks when you can’t put what you have learned into practical application? Vocational training and education programmes work progressively towards enhancing knowledge capacity as well as the ability to put that knowledge into use.
Despite all of its advantages, vocational training and education remain to be an unrealized dream; despite being the harbinger of employment, skills and knowledge, a lot of us continue to ignore its importance and disregard it as ‘a waste of time’ The Thomas B. Fordham Institute reports:
“Between 1990 and 2009… the percentage of credits high school students earned from CTE decreased from 18 per cent to 13 per cent, while the percentage of credits in core academics increased.” Not to go so far from home, it is not an uncommon sight to see teachers as well as parents placing importance on core subjects like science and mathematics while disregarding the importance of vocational subjects. To confirm this statement, let’s go back to your high school time, if you were to prepare for your finals, which topic would you start on first; mathematics or clothing construction? The answer though sad is the reality.
The reason why it happens so, apart from social conditioning is the myths attached to vocational education and training; some of them are:
A vocational course serves as an alternative for low academic scores:
Academic intelligence is just one kind of knowledge. A lot of mainstream schools focus on memory, reading and writing as some of the significant indicators of doing well at school. But those who opt for vocational courses; who are more influential in creative work, performance, kinesthetic learning, lateral thinking and applied knowledge are also considered as achievers. The quotient of intelligence is not measured by the type of subject you pursue, instead of by the aptitude one has.
Vocational courses are the last resort:
Probably one of the most commonly heard myths; vocational courses and training are considered to be the last resort as an educational qualification. However, contrary to this popular opinion; vocational courses and training can open a lot of doors for eager learners. It enables you to hold employment, helps you form connections with people who are in your profession, and enhances your skillset.
Vocational education and training will land you low-paying jobs:
Not really, no. in fact, people with vocational qualifications tend to earn more than the graduates. An engineer who slogged for four years to get a primary degree earns less than the person who took a vocational course in bakery science.
Jobs of the future need more than just vocational training:
It would be insulting to say college degrees are useless, on the other hand, it will be rude to say that jobs of the future will need more than just vocational training. Vocational training courses may differ across various fields, but they all have a common selling point; they prepare you for the future along with the job you desire.
It is high time for all of us to realize the importance vocational education and training holds in evolving us into better people; economically, academically, and skills-wise. Holding a college degree isn’t a small feat; however, the absence one is not the end of the world either. Opting for vocational training does not make you any less intelligent. Instead, it builds you into an all-rounder with your own unique story to tell.
If you are a teacher, please realize you have the power to shape the young minds who will become the policymakers of tomorrow, help them recognize the perks of vocational education.
If you are a parent, encourage your child to pursue vocational education and training in some form or at some level of their primary school. You surely want what’s best for them, and vocational education will only take them higher on the ladder of success.
And if you are a student, I implore you to take up some form of vocational training in the field you love. It is going to polish you up; both as a person and as an employee. It is your ticket to the future; to live what you desire from the bottom of your heart.