Delhi education revolution 2.0: After schools, AAP shifts focus to building capacity for skills training

Delhi’s economy is recovering after the COVID-19 shock because of the teamwork of people, businesses, traders, workers, and the government. The businesses that had shuttered due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown are opening up again and thousands of workers who lost their jobs are beginning to find work. However, India continues to stare at unprecedented levels of unemployment among the youth that can be traced back to pre-COVID times.

Generating employment for the youth should be a top priority for any government. But the vision of employment generation should not be limited to a political project that will satisfy one section of voters alone. The need of the hour is to facilitate employment generation that will re-invigorate the economy and hasten the pace of Delhi’s growth as an economic powerhouse.

The best way to build a modern city that works for everyone is to enable private industry, strengthen the workforce, and leverage economic success to carry out the welfare agenda.

An important promise of the Aam Aadmi Party has been equipping the students with quality education, skills, and knowledge that will enable them to join the workforce. A few days back, the Delhi government took an important step towards this goal with the first board meeting of the Delhi Skills and Entrepreneurship University (DSEU).

A recurring feature of industry studies on unemployment is that the promise of our demographic dividend is being frittered away by the lack of skills education in our mainstream education systems. Despite having an enthusiastic and aspiring young population, India’s under-investment in skills education has created a huge skill gap. India has less than 5 percent of the workforce receiving formal skill training. The informal sector which contributes to 82 percent of the workforce in India makes less than 50 percent of the GDP of the country.

One of the drawbacks of the ongoing skills training efforts is that they do not carry the weight of formal educational degrees. They are also unable to match the scale and quality demanded by the industry. With DSEU, the Delhi government aims to produce thousands of professionals every year, with entry-level to advanced-level courses for students of Classe 10 and Cass 12 as well as those with undergraduate and post-graduate degrees.

Industry and academia’s respected individuals have joined hands to build an institution that is agile and sensitive to the market’s requirements. IIM-Ahmedabad’s professor Neharika Vohra is the University’s first vice-chancellor. Pramath Sinha, founder of Indian School of Business and Ashoka University, Sanjeev Bikchandani, founder of naukri.com, Genpact founder Pramod Bhasin, startup investor Srikanth Shastri, former VC of the Indraprastha University professor KK Aggarwal and professor G Srinivasan are stalwart members of the university board.

DSEU will also collaborate with companies to design industry-specific courses, to ensure that the skills imparted to the students match both job seekers and job creators, and are in accordance with the demand in the local markets. The university’s course offerings will be flexible. Market requirements are constantly changing. Regardless of their market value and professional utility, too many existing courses continue for as long as 25-30 years with the same curriculum in various government and private institutions.

This university will be radical in redesigning, dropping, and introducing new courses. Continuous market research will drive the course design. It will also equip students to create jobs for others by incubating their entrepreneurial ventures. This will give the youth a chance to contribute not just as members of the workforce, but as job creators as well.

Providing high-quality public education is an expensive project that requires a transformative political will. In 2015, Delhi’s government schools were in poor shape. The AAP government worked in line with the needs of the students, parents, and teachers by trying to create an immersive environment for all. Bringing the community on board, improving teacher training and accountability systems, giving resources to school leaders and administrative autonomy, making parents active partners in children’s learning, upgrading infrastructure, introducing Entrepreneurship Mindset Curriculum and computer programming in the curriculum, were some of the most innovative measures in the schooling system.

If transforming government school education was the first education revolution Delhi saw, building massive capacity for skills education would be an important part of the Delhi education revolution 2.0.

The author is a Delhi Assembly Research Fellow, attached to the Department of Information and Publicity, Government of NCT of Delhi



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