21st-century skills to make you vocation ready

Vikram Shetty | Published On : September 29, 2021

Introducing vocational education in NEP 2020

The roll-out of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 brings with it a lot of expectations. The ambitious policy has been drafted to make monumental changes to the Indian education system. It is a comprehensive document that focuses on many areas such as multidisciplinary approach to education, 5+3+3+4 education structure, blending science and arts, introducing 21st century skills, teacher training and mentoring. However, one of the most critical aspects of the NEP 2020 is vocational education. The new education policy extensively discusses revamping of vocational courses and bringing them to the mainstream of the Indian education landscape.

Following much debate, discussion and an expansive consultation process with committees like National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF) and National Skills Qualification Framework (NSQF), new measures are introduced within the policy. The step towards emphasising the importance of vocational education has largely been accepted as a positive step towards reforming the current education system. The policy makers and experts from the education fraternity have argued that the demographic dividend of India will yield little benefits without vocational education and training (VET). The policy makers further state that in order to “overcome the social status hierarchy associated with vocational education”, India will have to integrate vocational education with mainstream education in a “phased manner”.

How does one define vocational education?

In simple terms, vocational education refers to education that prepares people to work in skilled craft or trade. The programme is designed to be instructional in nature that prepares you for specific occupations that may require a specialised skill, such as an artisan, technician, or tradesperson. It may involve imparting classroom instructions for the subject, hands-on training or a combination of both. The National Education Policy states that “Vocational exposure will begin in middle and secondary school, while quality vocational education shall be merged smoothly into higher education.” The idea is to educate children in at least one vocation, while exposing them to several others to ensure they will be skilled to work in at least one industry. NEP 2020 has encouraged 10-day bagless sessions with “local vocational experts” to help young minds get acquainted with different industries. The policy has also proposed similar internship opportunities for students between Classes 6 and 12.

Let us look at some goals and focus areas of the NEP’s vocational education programme:


  • By 2025, about 50% of learners would have exposure to vocational education
  • Students will be encouraged to mix and match academics with skills education
  • Career counselling and guidance will be provided to children from Classes 9 to 12
  • Vocational courses on emerging skill demands of the industries like AI and Robotics
  • Pre-service and Short-Term Training (STTP) programmes to educate vocational teachers

Focus areas:

  • Vocational education shall become a part of the larger vision of holistic education
  • Introduction of Skill Based Aptitude Test (SBAT) in Class 8
  • VE courses will be picked based on mapping of local opportunities and skills gap analysis
  • Collaboration of schools with training institutes, local businesses and industries
  • New learning methods and digital tools, virtual learning methods for training teachers     

Guaranteeing equal access of opportunities to all Indians

The National Education Policy 2020 puts India on a trajectory towards achieving the sustainable development goals that have been outlined by the United Nations as, “guaranteeing equal access to opportunities for access to quality technical and vocational education for everyone”. As Indian industries are evolving rapidly due to the technological revolution, it is time that the education sector makes drastic changes as well. Vocational education introduced by NEP is a strong step towards modernising the education sector by introducing 21st century skills and helping students to get exposure to various industries.

However, to make these vocational education measures a success in the country, the Indian education fraternity will have to work with different members of the business world and industries. Today, we have an urgent need to engage all stakeholders to design a roadmap to effectively realise the true potential of India’s demographic dividend. The different schemes introduced by the government like the ‘Make in India’ initiative will get a massive boost if our young workforce is equipped with practical industrial acumen. It will enhance productivity and play a vital role in building a self-sufficient country. The NEP 2020 is inspired by a vision of allowing education to transform the lives of individuals and societies, as it is guided by the concept of lifelong learning.