The relevance of vocational courses to the changing industry, employment opportunities for those who complete vocational courses and stigma towards vocational courses are some of the major unresolved issues in the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) system. For the last few weeks, UNESCO’s UNEVOC online forum has been discussing this hot topic.
Now, Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP), an initiative of Higher Education Department, Government of Kerala in India, presents a promising way to address the above issue by bringing in entrepreneurship development as a strong and influential component of vocational education and training.
It is not just a theory now. The Kannur District team of ASAP just started to pilot it. They chose Self Help Group (SHG) model for this pilot phase. The SHG model is always a safer mode for the group of young entrepreneurs to start off. As they progress and get groomed, they can easily switch over to a formal company set up. The Kannur Team of ASAP named the initiative as Smart India and the initiative was formally inaugurated by Shri. K.P. Mohanan, Minister for Agriculture, Government of Kerala on 6th September. This would be the first of its kind, wherein a skills training initiative is hatching and releasing a fully equipped entrepreneurs group.
In the Smart India initiative, the SHGs are formed following a five step structured process, namely: booting, filtering, grooming, hatching and launching. In booting stage the team mobilizes interested students and preliminary screening. In the filtering stage groups are formed. In the grooming stage, they are further trained in vital areas of business and opportunities to interact with successful industrialists are provided, and in hatching the ASAP district team mobilizes minimum clients for each group and all the groups conduct market survey in the related domains. Launching is the final phase wherein the real job starts. Before this final stage all the tools (both hard and soft including CRM), systems, procedures and other paraphernalia will be in place and operational.
From the very beginning itself the ASAP district team injects a high degree of professionalism in the SHGs by setting the standards like all service calls will be acknowledged in three hours and will be attended in 24 hours. Failing which the service will be carried out free of cost. These Smart India SHG members are trained to maintain a standard approach and communication protocol with the clients. Computer hardware and networking, home appliance servicing and hospitality are the areas wherein SHGs are formed in the current pilot phase. In the hospitality sector, the students took over the management of a three star grade hotel from its original owner on profit sharing basis.
The Smart India initiative becomes very important in view of many entrepreneurship initiatives recently announced by both Government of India and Government of Kerala, which include Make in India, Digital India, Smart Kerala etc. The team is working to organize SHGs for all the reaming sectors wherein ASAP provides skill training. The Smart India model set by the ASAP Kannur team is a model not only for Kerala and India but also for the world. Hats off to the ASAP Kannur District team led by Ms. Smitha!