Energizing Vocational Education as a Part of National Education Policy 2020

While the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) had been introduced in 2013, it needs the much greater impetus to ensure that the skills of our students can be aligned with the International Standard Classification of Occupations maintained by the International Labour Organisation.



While in a number of more developed countries, the percentage of the workforce with exposure to formal vocational education in the youngest ages ranges from over 50% in the US to 96% in South Korea, in India the figure is as low as 5%. The current situation in India is that vocational education is often perceived to be something undertaken only by students who cannot cope with regular mainstream education. The result of this is that young workforce joining jobs are simply not prepared for that profession, to begin with. 

Further, the matter is compounded by the fact that in India, blue-collar work is often looked down upon. This leads to an erosion of dignity of labour. While the National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF) had been introduced in 2013, it needs the much greater impetus to ensure that the skills of our students can be aligned with the International Standard Classification of Occupations maintained by the International Labour Organisation.

With this in view, much impetus has been given to “reimagining vocational education” in the National Education Policy 2020. Broadly, it envisages introducing vocational education early; taking these up as fun courses like carpentry, electrical work, metalwork, gardening, pottery making et cetera in classes 6–8; and giving opportunities to students to develop further in these vocational courses through the classes 6–12. It is planned to incorporate vocational subject in the specialized common subject exams for the university entrance examinations as well to be conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA). Students will be able to choose the subjects for these tests and universities will be able to see the students’ individual subject portfolio and admit them based on the students’ interests and talents. 

Among is the fundamental principles that guide both the education system at large as well as individual institutions, is the aspect of ensuring that there are no hard separations between vocational and academic streams, in order to eliminate creating unnecessary hierarchies amongst and silos between varied areas of learning.


The NEP2020 also envisages incorporation of states and local communities in decision making as to the vocational crafts to be included as mapped by local skilling needs. The policy encourages 10 ‘Bagless’ days throughout the year to permit the conduct of enrichment activities including exposure to vocational crafts. It envisages children being given periodic exposure to activities outside the school through visits to relevant places including meeting with local artists and craftsmen. By way of vocational courses, this will help infuse the best practices from a local talent into the teaching with these being imported into schools/school complexes/clusters and the sharing of resources across. It will, as a consequence, help preserve and encourage local crafts based on the area where schools are located. For instance, Bidri work may flourish in Hyderabad, wood carving in Saharanpur, carpet making in Hardoi and brass metalwork in Moradabad.


The National Education Policy 2020 caters for vocational courses as well in a “gender inclusion fund” to cater for girls as well as transgender students and cater for socio-economically disadvantaged groups.

The policy caters for mechanisms tailored to suit the needs of special children including the use of assistive devices and appropriate technology-based tools including braille, sign language et cetera. It caters for adequate attention being paid to the safety and security of children with disabilities.

Ensuring Availability of Teachers


The policy visualises the issues related to ensuring an adequate number of teachers especially in subjects like vocational education and languages. It does envisage recruitment of such teachers to school or school complex and sharing of teachers across schools.

The policy envisages special shorter local teacher education programs at BITEs, DIETs, or at school complexes wherein eminent local persons can be hired to teach at school and school complexes as “master instructors” for vocational crafts, local art, etc. promoting local professions and skills.

Areas requiring additional attention in coming years

In sum, the National Education Policy 2020 foresees a bold new future in Vocational education for our students tomorrow. There are, as in any bold initiative, a number of issues at the implementation level which will need to be addressed. Detailed plans will need to be worked out for each of these to ensure smooth implementation. These are:

– The pairing of supply and demand. Vocational courses in an area will need to be paid with the demand for the products being produced. This will require close interaction with various trade guilds and the industry.


– Provision of adequate teachers in schools. Providing a wide range of subjects has the limitation of very few students in some classes. The impact of this is upon the economics of running schools because more teachers require more pay-out financially. The economics of providing a wide range of subjects will need to be addressed at micro-levels. 

– Sharing of resources Economics. The economics of who pays for the hiring of teachers where shared will need to be worked out in detail at the group/cluster level.

– Employment-based upon National Skills Qualification Framework. There is some gap between NSQF levels of qualification obtained and its translation into actual jobs. Much work needs to be done to bridge this.

– Making blue-collar worker respectable. Changing of mindsets is something which will need much work, both direct and indirect; and spanning beyond the scope of the National Education Policy 2020. 



Overall, one has to appreciate the enormous effort taken by the government in the publication of the new policy of 2020. Without a doubt, it is a step in the right direction. It will, as in all changes, require much work at ground level to translate the policy into a successful implementation.

About the author:

Rita Singh, Director, Indirapuram Group of Institutions. She has over 30 years of experience in the education field and recently won the CBSE National Award 2019 from the HRD Minister.



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