Upgraded MSDE Employability Skills Curriculum Gives Prominence To 21st Century Skills And Self Learning 

There has been a sea of transformation in the teaching and learning process after the pandemic. Various government departments and institutions are trying to adapt to this scenario and shift gears to create new learning experiences that will resonate with the students. 

Keeping this in mind, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) recently launched a revamped curriculum on employability skills in association with Quest Alliance, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and various other curriculum bodies within the MSDE ecosystem. This initiative is being supported by the Future Right Skills Network (FRSN), a collaborative effort by Quest Alliance, Accenture, Cisco and J.P. Morgan.

In picture: (L to R) Ishvinder Singh, Cisco; Sourabh Anand, J.P. Morgan; Trishaljit Sethi, Director General – Directorate General of Training; Rajesh Aggarwal, Former Secretary, MSDE; Kotresh H B, Partnerships Specialist, Quest Alliance; and Nikita Bengani, Director – Youth Program, Quest Alliance.

The curriculum aims to orient and prepare students on how they can adapt to the job market post-COVID. Aspects such as career development, professionalism, adaptability and building resilience are given emphasis in the new curriculum. 

So far, most of the curricula for Employability Skills (ES) across the various skilling initiatives and professional courses in India, had a theory-first approach. The practical aspects mostly focussed on last-mile skill development such as the development of resume, interview skills were ignored. As a result of this, while students had technical skills, they did not have the critical 21st century skills to face an interview or secure a job. The current curriculum addresses this need and ensures that learners have the required skills and the right mindset that will make them more employable. 

More than 2.5 million students from over 15,600 government and private Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) will benefit from the program which includes a revamped and expanded 120-hour curriculum in Hindi and English.  Some of the modules include introduction to employability skills, digital skills, citizenship, diversity and inclusion, career development and goal setting, getting ready for work and entrepreneurship. Variants of the curriculum of 30, 60 and 90 hour duration are also being launched for both long-term and short-term courses. 

Speaking about the new curriculum, IAS officer Rajesh Aggarwal who led the initiative and was Secretary, Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship until recently said:

“For young people to be able to keep pace with the fast changing world they need to keep up-skilling and reskilling. Employability Skills are extremely key in enabling the transition of young people into the world of work with confidence, which is the single most important aspect any employers look for. Hence it needs to be embedded in every skilling program.” 

Explaining further, Aakash Sethi, CEO, Quest Alliance said, “The 12 modules in the curriculum have been chalked out keeping in mind the post-Covid job market and its volatility. The modules help learners build self learning mindsets and find a place for themselves in new kinds of jobs, such as those in the green and gig economy.” 

Since there is a dearth of ample job opportunities, particularly in small towns and rural areas, there is a need for young learners to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. The new curriculum in fact empowers learners to consider self-employment as their options. Besides this, there is a simple, yet practical exploration of digital fluency and safety. Some of the other topics that are also included in the curriculum are: safe banking, use of UPIs, use of MS office, mobile application for day-to-day use. The curriculum also aims to keep students abreast about financial and legal literacy. As the job market has become volatile after the pandemic, the new curriculum will equip learners with skills that will make them resilient and future ready. 

A Student Workbook from the Upgraded Employability Skills Curriculum

The curriculum will provide three key benefits to learners: build 21st century skills, develop a self-learning mindset and become career-ready in a post-pandemic world. 

Various experts in the industry too have pointed out how the revamped curriculum will improve the employability of learners. Speaking about the new curriculum, Harish Krishnan, Managing Director and Chief Policy Officer, Cisco India and SAARC, said, “Digitization is accelerating the need for new skill sets across production, manufacturing, and service industries, and it is important for candidates to keep up with the ever-evolving technology and business landscape. The revamped curriculum is aimed at addressing some of the industry- training gaps and helping youth navigate the future of work as well as improve their employability.”

Adding to that, Kshitija Krishnaswamy, Managing Director and Lead – Corporate Citizenship, Accenture in India said, “As industries transform in the digital economy, all types of work will be impacted and require a new set of skills. Developing these skills require the attention of the entire ecosystem, and collaboration between government, academia and industry.”

Maneesha Chadha, Head of Grant Programming, APAC, J.P. Morgan said, “The transformation of the ITI ecosystem is opening up employment opportunities for young people, allowing them to participate in India’s economic growth. We believe this growth should be inclusive and are focused on ensuring that young women graduating from ITIs have the skills it takes to build their career pathways.”

To help rollout the new curriculum in a smooth manner, a National Master Trainers Workshop was organized by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) in partnership with Quest Alliance and the Future Right Skills Network (FRSN). The aim of this workshop is to strengthen the skill training ecosystem by transforming the way the employability skills curriculum is imparted. As many as  90+ educators across the skilling ecosystem have been trained so far. These trainers are amongst the 270+ master trainers, who will go on to train and mentor 2400+ Employability Skills trainers in adopting a blended learning model to impart the ES curriculum.

It will further help educators to upgrade their skills for new age classrooms and familiarize themselves with blended learning models. While physical books covering the revamped curriculum are being released now, digital copies for blended learning will be available soon.

The new curriculum along with cascade trainer capacity building model is a step towards addressing critical gaps in the skilling ecosystem and building ownership amongst educators to adopt new pedagogical practices and mentor their peers in the same. 

Trainers from not only government-run vocational education institutions but also from short-term and long-term courses conducted by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) and Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) are part of the trainer capacity building intervention. 

This marks a strategic shift in government policy towards employability skills and is a testament to multi-stakeholder collaborative efforts like the Future Right Skills Network in building consensus for the need for employability skills in the vocational education ecosystem to ensure young people find jobs and remain relevant in the future workplace.  

The Future Right Skills Network is on a mission to empower young people in technical and vocational training institutes with employability skills for the knowledge economy. The partners of FRSN have also come together to advocate and create awareness, disseminate critical knowledge and shape a forward-thinking mindset to empower students with future-ready employability skills.

Written by:

Tanu Kulkarni

Communications Specialist

Author: thelearnerbyquest

Quest Alliance's space for reflection on the education sector

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