How to make best use of apprenticeship, vocational education in digital learning era

How to make best use of apprenticeship, vocational education in digital learning era

Digitisation has impacted our daily living. It has changed the way we communicate, read, watch and also learn. In order to succeed in this rapidly changing digital world, one needs to understand the continuous changes technology brings forth to us.

Digital learning is changing the world. It is connecting billions of young people to learner communities, teachers and economies.

Considering the importance and efficiency of technology-based learning, digital learning and skills should be incorporated in all forms of professional and vocational education. Several universities and institutions provide digital learning courses and teach using technology. Tools such as multimedia, audio-visual, mobile and digital content are used to reach out to learners to enhance their learning experiences.

however, learning purely through digital means is not enough to acquire the requisite skill sets. Coupling digital learning along with an integrated apprenticeship programme will provide the right amount of workplace skills and exposure to the learner.

Integrating and providing apprenticeship, vocational education and training are important as they improvise the skills of the workforce. Linking theory, practical and on-the-job training will help promote learning across industries and sectors.

Further, teaching apprentices skills using digital medium helps disseminate knowledge to a much larger audience. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills are crucial for the digital economy.

On the Job Training (OJT) or the apprenticeship model of learning can work closely either with online, onsite or on-campus learning. However, it usually works best in a hybrid format bringing in a mix.

For example, OJT can be combined with onsite and online, wherein a lot of self-learning content can be provided online. Here, the hands-on learning is acquired through OJT and the teacher provides learning through classrooms on site.

Interim assessments bring in the elements of monitoring and evaluation, keeping the learner and the teacher aligned to the defined learning goals and objectives. This allows the academia, industry, and student to collaborate in developing a skilled and productive workforce for the industry.

The few key advantages of an integrated learning model of apprenticeship and digital learning are:
Increased learner engagement: The greater the variety of techniques used, the easier it will be to get the learners’ attention and engagement to deliver a range of core competencies.

Learning flexibility: Blended approaches mean a mixture of different learning models and flexibility can work not just for learners but also for employers and trainers to be able to deliver a learning programme or compliance course on time.

Personalised learning: Using different forms of learning, the techniques of learning can be different for different learners depending on their individual learning style.

Improved learner: A hybrid form of learning would mean a deeper and continuous engagement with each individual learner, not just for learning but to understand his/her learning needs and model learning accordingly.

Better monitoring: Any form of digital learning seeks to improvise the way a learner learns using technology. And can be monitored right from the number of minutes he/she has been on a particular topic, the total programme covered, assessments taken and passed. This allows the trainer and employer to keep a close eye on each learners’ progress and help learn them better.

Reduced costs: A mixed form of learning will not just reduce infrastructure and travel costs, but also build in efficiency through online, onsite and OJT forms of learning. This also enables the facilitators to customise on the basis of time and budgets available. Also, any training should be measured basis training outcomes on a continuous basis, thereby measuring the return on training investments.

All the four forms of learning, OJT, Online, Onsite and On-Campus allow for regular interaction. Also, it is easy to modularise learning for each batch of learners if not for individual learners.

India is going to to be one of the few countries with the highest number of youth in the next few years. With a large young population proposed to enter the labour market, unless they have the right skills, most of them would be under-employed with lower wages.

There are huge opportunities for job-seekers and students opting for vocational skills as an alternate and/or an additional form of learning. ‘Learning by doing’ and ‘Earning while learning’ is a few such mechanisms for learning vocational skills along with classroom learning. Being an apprentice would give a chance to the trainee to work towards his / her qualification. This will help one gain the skills and knowledge required for the specific industry.

From a student perspective, being an apprentice is quite simple. They can either register on the government-run apprenticeship portal or the few private ones. The trainees are connected to prospective industries and get deployed at the industry for a stipulated duration and stipend.

A multi-modal form of learning has many advantages and digital learning tools and technology fill gaps where traditional classrooms fail. In today’s age of big data, artificial intelligence and internet-of-things, there is a need for rapid reactions and changes basis the market needs.

The writer is senior vice president, TeamLease Services


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