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ITIs: Nurturing a Skilled Workforce for India's Industrial Growth

Published: 4th Jan, 2024

Context

The Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) have been a crucial element of vocational education in India since 1950, contributing to the skill development of the workforce.

Issues:

Despite historical challenges and chronic under-investment, recent initiatives are reshaping the ITI landscape, aligning it with the evolving needs of the industrial sector.

Background

  • Since 2014, there has been a significant growth of 47% in the number of ITIs, reaching 14,993 institutions.
  • The enrolment numbers have surged from 9.46 lakh in 2014 to 12.4 lakh in 2022, reflecting an increasing interest in vocational education.
  • However, systemic challenges such as outdated infrastructure, over-regulation, and a shortage of trainers have hampered the full potential of ITIs.

Need for Transformation:

  • To address the evolving needs of the economy, there has been a paradigm shift in ITI courses, with over 40% now focusing on service sectors.
  • Strategic partnerships with IT companies have benefited 22 lakh individuals in the last five years.
  • The push for modernization includes the rationalization of course durations, the introduction of new-age skills courses, and the affiliation of ITIs for drone-related programs.

Skilling and Skill-Industry-Efficiency Dynamics:

  • To enhance the skilling ecosystem, a dual system of training has been implemented in 978 ITIs, facilitating learning in both industry and classrooms.
  • Thirteen memorandums with industry partners have led to customized curriculums, aligning training with industry requirements.
  • The Bharat Skills portal, launched in 2019, has provided digital access to educational resources, benefiting over 54 lakh ITI users and earning national recognition.

Global Perspective on Vocational Education:

  • Globally, vocational enrolment at the upper-secondary level is much higher, with figures ranging from 18% to 49% in countries like South Korea, Australia, and Germany.
  • In contrast, India's vocational enrolment is estimated at less than 6%, reflecting the need for a shift in societal perceptions and systemic improvements.

Challenges and Solutions:

  • Despite the recent strides, a 2023 NITI Aayog study highlighted systemic challenges such as outdated infrastructure, over-regulation, trainer shortages, and a curriculum lagging behind economic changes.
  • To address these, a multi-faceted mission is needed, focusing on awareness, counselling, infrastructure upgrade, trainer capacity building, and technology-enabled governance.

ITIs as a Relevant Contributor:

Despite under-investment, ITIs remain relevant for the industrial sector.

 A 2020 ministry assessment revealed that ITI pass-outs possess technical knowledge and a superior ability to understand job technicalities.

With India positioning itself as a manufacturing powerhouse, ITI-based vocational training gains significance, aligning with initiatives like production-linked incentives and semiconductor manufacturing.

Future Prospects:

  • The National Education Policy envisions the integration of vocational and general education, aiming for 50% of students exposed to vocational education by 2025.
  • Scaling up past efforts and reimagining a skilled industrial workforce are imperative to realizing the vision of a developed India.

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