Learning from the Germans

Nov 18 2013, 12:06 IST
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SummaryIndia will do to well to adopt a skill development-based education system like the one Germany follows

The Union HRD minister recently stated that India has the potential to become the worldwide hub for sourcing skilled labour, apart from meeting the country’s demand. While this is indeed possible, India faces significant challenges around skill development and employability. The recent article “India’s skill will conundrum” (goo.gl/15k0lh) in a leading newspaper provides some insights on the challenges in India’s skill development.

It is well known that India is set to become the youngest country by 2020 with an average age of 29 years. Empirical data suggests that the presence of large percentage of working-age labour force, also called India’s “demographic dividend”, would greatly stimulate economy and growth. It is time to look afresh at the broad education framework in the country and imbibe some of the best-in-class education systems in the world to improve skills and employability in the country.

In this backdrop, how about learning from Germany? Germany has the best employment-oriented education system in the world through its Duales Ausbildungssystem or the dual system of vocational education and training (DSVET).

Global adoption of DSVET

The DSVET, pioneered by Germany allows youth to pursue over 350 apprenticeship occupations like assistants to doctors or assistant in a legal firm or specific jobs in manufacturing industries. It provides skills to the youth without a degree, thereby providing them a great opportunity to enter the labour market.

Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research states that 66% of the school students enter the dual system and the entire program is mostly financed by the German companies. The course combines practical apprenticeships in a company and theoretical vocational education at a school. The duration of the theory and practical aspects vary from a few days to months. This system allows the student to be a quasi-employee of the company from the beginning, and based on individual interest and performance, a student could find full time employment.

The European Commission states that work-based learning, such as dual approaches, should be a central pillar of vocational education with the aim of reducing youth unemployment. The time-tested DSVET has been replicated in many European countries like France with positive results. Many of the countries affected by the European crisis are looking at the DSVET for improving employability. Interestingly, while countries like Greece and Spain have over-50% unemployment rates, Germany has managed to keep it at less than 8%. Although many experts attribute the low unemployment rate

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