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Mandatory internships are essential to hone 21st century employability skills: Here’s why

By Sunil Dahiya

Mandatory internships can create a job-ready, industry-ready workforce.

There is a marked disconnect today between what academia produces and the industry need for market-driven skills. Hence, it’s time to reboot and revitalize our education and training systems. With 21st-century skills taking Center stage, it is critical to skill the student population of approximately 40 million in classes 11th and 12th every year, both conceptually and practically.

While classroom training caters to learning concepts required for various vocational domains right from grades 6th to 10th, the practical aspects can be introduced in schools from Grade 11th and continue right till the Diploma and Bachelor stage.

India Skills Report 2019

As per ‘India Skills Report 2019’84 per cent of Indian students prefer internships. However, only 37 per cent of organisations provide such opportunities for students. This makes a strong case for internships to be made compulsory starting from Intermediate students and exposing them to apply the concepts learnt in a particular skill domain practically, in the school itself.

Setting-up of key domain labs in school and running them like a production floor will be a good beginning.

The student is given the opportunity to learn the complete value chain from production to sales in this three-month internship period. This will provide immense confidence to students to gear up to face the industry. The model requires the school to arrange for raw material and resources in domain labs from the industry and students to work across production, sales etc.

The learning journey continues for the student post-school through Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs), Vocational Training Institutes (VTIs), Polytechnics and Bachelor in vocational streams.

An apprenticeship could be the best model to skill India’s blue-collar workforce. It will not just enhance employability and reduce joblessness, but from an employer perspective, it will lead to improved skills, productivity and professionalism.

Why there should be mandatory internships?

Mandating a six-month apprenticeship will transform the student into a fully-trained industry executive with real-time exposure to shop-floor dynamics. To make this happen, the industry and academia need a strong hand-shake. A tie-up with Industry for the final 6-months’ shop-floor experience and launching customised batches to be delivered to the Industry premises needs to be initiated.

  • This dual system of training will lead to a win-win situation for the student as well as the Industry.

The student will, apart from applying the basic concepts will be able to experience the real shop floor practices, understand their individual and team roles, be exposed to best practices, and learn how to handle and optimize resources.

  • This experience will result in producing highly confident and productive trainees for the Industry with an opportunity to put them on a successful career path.

Statistics of internships across the world

Countries with the most successful apprenticeship programs are Germany and Switzerland. While it is impractical to copy these models in toto, some best practices are worth considering.

Nearly half of all German and Swiss high school students graduate into apprenticeship programs instead of pursuing a university degree.

This is a mindset change that we need to inculcate. Not surprisingly, the German apprenticeship model is a significant contributor to low levels of youth unemployment in the country as well as adding to the manufacturing strength. The time has come for us to create a unique ecosystem of government, employers and the vocational training apparatus working in sync with each other to overcome the massive skill development challenge that India faces today.

Source: India Today

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