Vocational education: A tool for sustainable development

Job creation is only vital if vocational education is carefully conducted in the schools.

ByNgangyophi Shimray

Updated 22 Feb 2024, 2:19 am

Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)
Representational Image (Photo: Pixabay)

Vocational education plays a vital role in human resource  development by creating skilled manpower, enhancing industrial productivity and improving the quality of the people. It gives individuals the skills to live, learn and work as a productive citizen in a global society. It also raises the productivity of workers and increases their life-time earning capacity. Vocational education helps in building self-confidence  and leadership skills by allowing them to utilise their unique gifts and talents. Education is important and skills are necessary, especially in the present context. 

The present education system has produced learners with high degrees and academic percentages, but, without skills of employability. This results in a high unemployment rate, which has become a huge socio-economic problem. India has seen many schemes and policies which emphasize on the importance of vocational education such as Wardha Scheme of Basic Education (1937) Kothari Commission (1964), NCERT (1976), UNESCO (2013), NEP (1968, 1986).

NEP 2020 has recognised the advantage of receiving formal vocational education in India as compared to developed countries. To survive and flourish  in this 21st century, we need a lot of mental flexibility, great reserves of emotional balance, individuals who think critically, innovatively and analytically for resolving real life problems instead of being replaced by algorithms (Harare, 2019; Pradhan 2021). Many pedagogical experts argue that schools should switch to teaching the four C’s: critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.

Revamping and restructuring the system of education has become the need of the hour. Mahatma Gandhi believed that mass education and primary education can bring national integration through vocational training from the primary school itself. In the Harijan newspaper, July 1973, Gandhi wrote, “By education I mean all round drawing out of the best in child and man-body, mind and spirit. Literacy itself is not education. I would, therefore, begin the child’s education by teaching it as a useful handicraft and enabling it to produce from the moment it begins its training.” Thus, every school can be made self- propounded with craft education, self-supporting to promote vocational education. Such education becomes an important element of the nation’s initiative for education.

Vocational education consists basically of practical courses through which one gains skills and experiences and in turn, better employment opportunities. It is essential to promote a productive work force through various courses to cater to the requirements of the unorganized sectors, as well as to establish self-employment abilities in youngsters through a wide range of vocational courses.

At present, only 7 to 10 per cent of the population participates in the formal sector, the growth of vocational education will offer a trained labor force in the informal sector, hence increasing productivity. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) and the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) both highlight the importance of improving access to and participation in vocational education, as well as the flexibility of vocational education within the mainstream education system to improve the feature of Vocational education in India. National Knowledge Commission also suggested increasing capacity through novel delivery models, as well as enhancing public-private collaborations


There are a number of challenges facing vocational education which have impacted on development. It is regarded as inferior to regular academic degrees hence, shortage of vocational teachers. Lack of basic facilities in schools, such as furniture, laboratories, running water, electricity, machines, computers etc. may lead to difficulty in expansion of vocational education. In the present scenario, more importance and respect has been given to the activities related to intellect and physical activities. In the vocational streams, no liberal education is provided, so, the youngsters are not able to acquire knowledge of social objectives and human relation with production.

Medium of instruction in vocational courses is also another problem in almost all our institutions. English is the medium of instruction, therefore, students who have passed through the medium  of some other regional languages find it difficult to receive vocational education in English. Such students leave the institution after a term of stagnation, resulting in disappointment  and frustration  which leads to loss of money, time and energy. The development of any nation hinges on the social and economic contributions of her citizens. Educational, vocational and technical training  plays a major role at promoting community and national development (Oguntuyi, 2013).

Lack of vocational education is one of the reasons for unemployment and poverty in the society. The growing and worsening  problems of unemployment and poverty is because youth and graduates from tertiary institutions are not equipped with adequate skills that will enable them to export natural resources. Olaitan (1996) posits that unemployment leads to frustration and disillusionment which may result in crime or drug abuse in a futile attempt to escape from and forget the pains and humiliation associated with poverty. The problem of unemployment, he further stated, has worsened as millions of school leavers and graduates of tertiary institutions are not gainfully employed.

The reason is that they lack the necessary occupational skills that would enable them to be self employed and effectively functional in today’s present world of work. Occupational skills can be achieved through vocational and technical education. Ayoodele (2006) identified the problems of irrelevant education that is bookish theoretical and ‘white colour job’ oriented. The high rate of insecurity such as kidnapping, prostitution, robbery has a relationship with unemployment and poverty. UNESCO (1993) argues that a well developed curriculum must be measured by the extent to which its content is able to meet the prevailing and future needs of the local population.

There is a need for intervention in school curriculum which mainly depends on indigenous knowledge. Such intervention to strengthen the school vocational education curriculum, may include localise learning contents; skills and knowledge of certain cultures are limited to that particular culture and may not easily be transferred or borrowed by other cultures. Besides that, the content is determined by the socio-economic activities performed by a particular community, such as agriculture, weaving, pottery, black smiting and knitting. In Uganda, for instance, every member of the society’s ethnic group inculcates a sense of belonging, shared identity and continuity of the group. General knowledge on aspects of life and careful utilization constitute an informal curriculum that enables its members to acquire skills for sustaining their livelihood.

The well being of any nation largely depends on its sustainable economic development. The concept of sustainable development has become a global medium for expressing the need to depart from hither to dominant  models of development that apparently fail to balance the needs of people and the plane in the pursuit of peace and prosperity  (Wals, 2009).Economic development is thus an important part of general development in any society.

The main objectives of economic development is to raise the standard of living and the general well being of the people in an economy where almost everybody can be self-reliant. Nation building or development has to be sustainable in practical terms, this depends on availability of resources. Vocational education constitutes a vital engine for economic, social, practical and all round development of any nation. It has been identified as a tool for sustainable development. It has an impact on the overall development of the individual and society.


On July 19, 2020, the government of India unveiled the first National Education Policy of the 21st century for a better and comprehensive educational structure. The new policy aims not only for cognitive development but also for character building and creating holistic well rounded individuals, equipped with the key 21st century skills. Vocational and skill development in one major aspect where NEP 2020 has focused upon. Learning will be exposed to different vocations and skills along with ‘academic’ education from an early age.

The policy aims to work towards multidisciplinary education and optimal learning to ‘develop all capacities of human beings- intellectual, aesthetic, social, physical, emotional and moral in an integrated manner’. By 2025, the New Education Policy (NEP) plans to provide Vocational Education to 50 per cent of all students. The Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) is the nodal ministry for the development and coordination of vocational education and skill development programmes in India.

National education Policy (2020) has called for revamping and restructuring of Indian educational structure for a broader prospect. The government needs clear, precise and systematic policy to make NEP 2020 functional. Some steps for development and introduction of vocational and skill based education may include introduction for more professional and Technical institutions, setting up of industries where students can receive first-hand training, institution’s infrastructure should be upgraded and enhanced, creative and innovative introduction of vocational and skill development subjects, suitable for our economy, exposure of students in different vocational and skill development related workshops, seminars, collaboration with the NGOs to provide practical skills to students.

Education is a vital tool through which any nation can experience growth and development. Job creation is only vital if vocational education is carefully conducted in our schools. Occupational skills enable us to overcome the problem of unemployment. It is observed that vocational education occupies an important position in the sustainable development of the nation. 

(The views expressed are personal)



First published:


unemploymentnep 2020job creationvocational education

Ngangyophi Shimray

Ngangyophi Shimray

Assistant Professor, St Joseph college, Ukhrul, Manipur


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