The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), under the guidance of Kapil Sibal, Minister of Human Resource Development, Communications & Information Technology, has joined hands with the exchange4media Group to create a body that can contribute in formulation of ‘National Vocational Educational Qualification Framework for Media and Entertainment Industry’.
Minister Sibal’s thought process on the matter was clear, as he addressed leaders from the industry on February 9, 2011 in New Delhi. The discussion saw exchange4media Group’s Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Anurag Batra, lead the conversation. Batra said, “My industry colleagues and friends would agree that this effort is much needed right now. The fact that it has the guidance of Honourable Minister Kapil Sibal and a body such as the AICTE, coupled with the expertise that exchange4media Group has developed in the last decade in this community, will play a key role in materialising this effort.”
In his address, Minister Sibal explained that at present, there were around 200-225 million children in schools in India. If the government’s and other bodies’ efforts are successful, 40-45 million of these would go to college. On the one hand, this means the creation of a vast pool that can be trained in activities of interest via vocational education, on the other hand, there are burgeoning industries that are in extreme need of specific skill sets that are not developed in the current education system. Sibal said, “This is a challenge and an opportunity. If we don’t meet the challenge, the rest of the children would be going nowhere with no skills. It is necessary for the State to start working to ensure that when these children pass out from Standard 12, they have acquired some skills. We are hoping to architect a system that allows flexibility in terms of choice for these children. In the heart of any good educational system is choice. And an industry that is able to absorb the talent created, completes the effort.”
This exercise has already been initiated for the telecom and automobile industries. Next on the cards are industries such as infrastructure. Sibal gave the example of the automobile sector, where industry leaders got together and worked on creating a syllabus that could create talent which would be specialised to cater to the various emerging needs of the sector.
According to Sibal, the areas of music, television, advertising, all forms of entertainment, gaming, DTH and others had enormous potential, but we did not have enough young people with skills who could be absorbed by these industries. The objective of the meet was how bodies such as the AICTE could create a dynamic structure with the industry to be able to create skills that are required in the new millennium. How can groups be set up and action taken to create a workforce that can contribute to the growth of India?
“We can’t do this unless we have a national, vocational, qualification framework that the young talent can take advantage of. There have to be certificates with value that can define the skills, the parameters of the skills, the number of hours you need to go through to acquire the skills and other such details,” said Sibal. He informed that a nine-leveled certification was thought out, which would also give employers a sense of the skill-set of a person, depending on the level of the certificate. The employers also will develop confidence in the process.
Sibal ended his note by saying, “This is the beginning of a great journey, which we want to traverse with the entertainment journey.”
His address was followed by AICTE’s Professor SS Mantha speaking further on the need to bridge the skill gap required by several jobs and prepare the youth for a vocation of their choice. He gave the background on the Indian scenario, where by 2020, the age group of 20-30 years would be 25 per cent of the population in India. “There is a mismatch in the industry in the need of skills and the kind of education. The Media and Entertainment (M&E) sector is growing at 13 per cent, according to a recent KPMG report, and that means there is great demand of talent as we move forward.”
He took the audience through a National Vocational Educational Qualification Framework to showcase some of the thought behind the expectations from this exercise.
Various industry leaders present at the forum agreed that this was a needed initiative, but that the approach to the situation would make all the difference. Times OOH’s Sunder Hemrajani, in the audience, said, “A lot of thought has gone into designing the framework, but the challenge is in the execution of the intent. If the quality of the input is sub-optimal, the output would also be sub-optimal.”
KornFerry’s Ashutosh Khanna added that there was the need for an instructional design engineer, whose very work would be to design the course and lay down guidelines on how to follow it. “Someone should write down the course content, and not only in India, but everywhere else, education lags behind the industry. Universities have courses that don’t apply in the real world. Hence, certification needs to be put on a six-monthly check.”
DishTV’s Salil Kapoor pointed out that in the current system it was difficult for a corporate to contribute to the educational structure. Citing an experience of DishTV, he said, “Please help us to reach out to the right people if we want to do something to develop ground-level skill-set or develop a course and how to participate in the initiative.”
Whistling Woods’ Ravi Gupta pointed out that there was also a need to factor in the mindset of parents, which was still skewed towards traditional education.
Sibal ended the discussion by stating that the reason to begin this exercise was to discuss issues such as these and create something that was futuristic. He then called for Anurag Batra to set up the Committee that would take this initiative forward.