Education that is Multicultural: Vocational Education and Skills Development

Blog #9

January 9, 2017

This blog is authored by Study Abroad in India student Claudia Lara who is studying for a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education at The City College of New York. She has an associates degree in Deaf Studies, a bachelor's degree in Linguistics and is currently teaching 3 year olds in a preschool in Queens, NY.

Throughout our first week in India, we visited institutions that have taught us how different communities in India are being encouraged to continue their education. We are starting this week by visiting Skill India which is a skills development corporation for marginalized communities. As we learned in previous visits, the key to helping students succeed is to keep them engaged throughout process from education to employment. Skill India intends to help those who have dropped out of school by providing vocational training through hands-on activities.

Hearing "hands-on" made me think of activities related to the topic being taught however, seeing the classrooms made me realize it is more than providing activities. All the classrooms were different;  those training for hospitality had a replica of a hotel room for practicing, those training for a position associated with retail were standing in their classroom. Every setting aimed to provide real life experience to prepare them for the job position they would like to get.

As the article “Origins of Alternative Education in India: A Continuing Journey” by Deepti Mehrotra mentions, several schools have introduced alternative teaching methods that are different from the mainstream method (Mehrotra, p. 25). Besides introducing different hands-on experiences, Skill India has also introduced new equipment in the classrooms. The Institute has created and patented a touch screen projector which facilitates teaching. The projector has different features like graphing, browsing, and writing tools. It also has the option to live stream and record which can be played in centers that do not have teachers. Every setting and materials in Skill India was customized to fit students' career interest. Walking around the vocational centers made me wonder why classrooms in New York are not adapting to more realistic situations.

11 responses
It was very interesting to see the training that went on at this vocational school. Most people applying for jobs in these fields receive a few weeks of training after being hired. I was astounded when I saw how intense the skill building and preparation for these jobs were. Not only will the students know what to expect when thinking about a job, they will also be able to see weather or not they would like to peruse that particular career.
India is a great benefaction source in education. They are advanced in almost every aspect; hands on experiences, technology, skills teachers. I was amazed at how realistic they teach. Like Ms. Claudia said, I also was shocked to enter the classroom training for a position associated with retail. The fact that they were standing is already preparing them for their future careers. This is one of so many great examples I was able to see. India Skill Education is doing an awesome job!
Visiting Skill India made me realize how well these students are trained. I was impressed with the hands-on training and how much the different programs are designed to fit the needs of these students. Looking at the building from the outside, one can never imagine that every single room in this 4 storage building is designed for a very specific field. The variety of fields made me think about vocational training differently.
The extent to which the students are trained at Skills India is impressive. Entering the building, one cannot immediately tell how big the facility actually is. The technology used to facilitate the education of the students was also pretty advanced and I feel like several other institutions and educational organizations could benefit from such technology.
It was quite amazing to see how the Skills Institute train these workers, get them certified, then get them a placement in the job field. The Skills Institute does an amazing job at giving students a second chance, who have previously dropped out of school. Something that amazed me was in the retail lab. Here, the trainees are trained on their feet. This is because people complained about their feet hurting after standing long hours throughout the day. The Skills Institute takes feedback from trainees who have gone into the work field to make the training more realistic and beneficial.
It was so interesting to see students so engaged and happy to learn for free in these stimulated settings so that they can go into the real world and be ready for it. It was very unique and such a smart idea to have students be placed in classrooms that looked like the real life setting to be able to easily go into the job one day. The idea of having these students stand for 8 hours so they can be prepared to stand those during work hours is genius.
The need for this organization arose because if you ask the typical student what his goals are - he wants to be a doctor or an engineer...however that's simply not realistic and so many, just kinda give up and sit idly. I think this struck me, as an educator to offer multiple career choices for my students to aspire to, so they don't get locked into one field but rather are able to see the value of a multifaceted education, and their skills can be applied in a variety of worthy careers.
When I hear "hands on learning" I just think of simple cooking activities or safe cutting techniques. This class trip today went really indepth with the term "hands on". There were men and women all getting a first class ticket to thier preferred work place. In the electric shop, men were working hard with electricity and sparks were flying everywhere. In the construction shop, men had their hard hats on and were taking an exam. In the beauty shop, women all had head models and were massaging and reciting each part of the facial parts. It was incredible to see. In the customer service shop I found it incredible to see how the students were having class standing up. This is because in retail, you're not sitting down, everyone is standing up greeting, walking around, making sure the customer gets what they want. We need classes like this in New York!!
Skill India takes away the shock that people often get when entering a new job. The students at this vocational training program know exactly what to expect and how to do the job they were trained for. It is incredible how much practice they can get before entering the work space.
From the outside SkillsIndia seemed to be a small school, but once upon entering it is like entering a whole new world of possibility and opportunity. This vocational school has every job training course that one can imagine. From beauty school to manufacturing automobile parts, this vocational school is setting up their students who did not take the standard schooling route for SUCCESS in their individual endeavors!
Although vocational skills training are especially necessary in a country as large as India with a large and fast growing youth demographic, I find vocational skills training to be problematic. In the US for one, teachers and schools disproportionately place students of color to these vocational programs, instead of providing them with the tools to apply to college and pursue a white-collared job. This pre-placement of students at the college age perpetuates inequality and leaves professional jobs for the upper class. I think this is something we should keep in mind when dealing with such vocational skills programs that simultaneously serve to support big corporation's need for cheap labor.