(excerpts from notification dated December 27, 2013 by Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs))
Through the National Policy on Skill Development, 2009, India recognized the need for the development of a national qualification framework that would transcend both general education and vocational education and training. The Policy envisioned that the framework will stimulate and support reforms in skills development and facilitate establishment of nationally standardized and acceptable, and internationally comparable qualifications. In the absence of an organization at the Central level to develop such a framework, individual Ministries started working on development of the framework, which were to subsequently be subsumed in the National framework, when available. The Ministry of Labour and Employment developed the National Vocational Qualifications Framework (NVQF) and the Ministry of Human Resource Development developed the National Vocational Educational Qualification Framework (NVEQF). The Ministry of Human Resource Development also launched a pilot of the NVEQF in Haryana at the secondary school level.
Realizing the need to have a unified framework, an Inter-Ministerial Committee was formed by the Cabinet Secretariat to use the work already done by the two Ministries as the foundation of the National Skills Qualification Framework. With the formation of the National Skill Development Agency, the mandate to anchor and operationalize the NSQF to ensure that quality and standards meet sector specific requirements was transferred to the Agency.
NEED FOR QUALIFICATION FRAMEWORK IN INDIA
- In India, general education and vocational education & training have been operating as separate verticals, with very little interaction between the two. This has led to hesitation amongst the youth in opting for vocational education and training as it is presumed that this avenue would preclude the concerned individual from being able to acquire higher degrees and qualifications. In order to facilitate mobility from vocational to general education, and vice-versa, a qualification framework for India, i.e. the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) will help make qualifications more understandable and transparent.
- The need for the NSQF arises due to the following additional reasons:
- Till now the focus of education and training has been almost entirely on inputs. The NSQF is based on an outcomes-based approach, and each level in the NSQF is defined and described in terms of competency levels that would need to be achieved. Job roles corresponding to each of these competency levels would be ascertained with the involvement of industry, through the respective Sector Skill Councils (SSCs).
- Pathways of learning and progression, especially on the vocational education and training front, are generally unclear or absent. There is no clear provision for vertical or horizontal mobility. The NSQF will make the progression pathways transparent so that institutes, students and employers are clear as to what they can or cannot do after pursuing a particular course and address the issues of inequity and disparity in qualifications
- There is lack of uniformity in the outcomes associated with different qualifications across institutions, each with its own duration, curriculum, entry requirements as well as title. This often leads to problems in establishing equivalence of certificates/diplomas/degrees in different parts of the country, which in turn impacts the employability and mobility of students.
- The negative perception associated with vocational education and training can be significantly removed by the development of quality qualifications that also permit acquisition of higher qualifications, including degrees and doctorates.
- There exists a large section of people who have acquired skills in the informal sector but who do not have the necessary formal certifications to attest to their skills. As a competency-based and outcomes based qualification framework, NSQF will facilitate Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) that is largely lacking in the present education and training scenario.
- Majority of Indian qualifications are not recognized internationally and vice-versa. This creates a problem for the students and workers as their international mobility is adversely affected and they often have to undergo a course again to get a qualification that is recognized in the host country. The NSQF will also help alignment of Indian qualifications to international qualifications in accordance with relevant bilateral and multilateral agreements. Many countries are already in the process of aligning their qualifications to international qualifications through qualification frameworks.
- The credit accumulation and transfer system that will be integrated in the NSQF will allow people to move between education, vocational training and work at different stages in their lives according to their needs and convenience. It will be possible for a student to leave education domain, get some practical experience in industry and return to studies to gain qualifications to progress higher in his chosen career
HOW IT WORKS?
- The National Skill Qualification Framework is composed of ten levels, each representing a different level of complexity, knowledge and autonomy required to demonstrate the competence commensurate for that level. Level one of the framework represents the lowest complexity while level ten represents the highest complexity. The levels are defined by criteria expressed as learning outcomes. Volume of learning denoting notional time taken to acquire qualification may also be indicated for some levels and some sectors, but it is important to note that the NSQF Levels are not related directly to years of study. They are defined by the extent of demands made of the learner in broad categories of competence, i.e. professional knowledge, professional skill, core skill and responsibility. Over a lifetime of learning, individuals will move to higher from lower levels or across levels of qualifications as they take on new learning and acquire new skills.
- Each NSQF level is defined by a set of descriptors expressed as learning outcomes. The level descriptors are designed to allow broad comparisons to be made between outcomes of learning. However, it is not the case that every qualification will or should have all of the characteristics set out in the level descriptors. Each qualification at an NSQF level may be further defined with reference to curriculum, notional contact hours, subjects, duration of studies, workload, trainer quality and type of training institution, to indicate what is expected of the learner in terms of ability to do or apply at the end of the learning process.
- The positioning of two or more qualifications at the same level only indicates that they are broadly comparable in terms of the general level of outcome. It does not indicate that they necessarily have the same purpose or content.
- Some other issues associated with the NSQF are given below:
- National Occupational Standards (NOS): NOS define the measurable performance outcomes required from an individual engaged in a particular task. They list down what an individual performing that task should know and also do. These standards can form the benchmarks for various education and training programs and recruitment range of HRM practices. Just as each job role may require the performance of a number of tasks, the combination of all the NOSs corresponding to these tasks would form the Qualification Pack (QP) for that job role. The NOSs and QP for each job role corresponding to each level of the NSQF are being formulated by the concerned Sector Skill Councils (SSCs). In the event of there being no SSC for a given sector, or inability on the part of the SSC to produce the NOSs/QPs in a timely manner, this responsibility may be assigned by the National Skills Qualifications Committee (NSQC) to a relevant regulatory body or other entity having experience and knowledge of the sector.
- Curriculum Packages: The competency based curriculum packages would consist of syllabus, student manual, trainers guide, training manual, trainer qualifications, assessment and testing guidelines and multimedia packages and e-material. These will be developed for each NSQF level, and where relevant, for specific Qualification Packs (QPs) identified by the SSCs. This may be done by such agencies as the Ministries/ Departments, Sector Skills Councils and Regulatory Bodies may designate, or any other body, in accordance with the NSQF. NSQF curricula should be modular, allowing for skill accumulation and facilitating exit and entry. Curricula design will also be aligned to a credit framework that reflects credits earned and competencies acquired. Training of trainers would also be aligned to the NSQF.
- Industry Engagement: Since the NSQF is based on an outcomes-based approach, participation of the industry and employers is a critical prerequisite for the success of NSQF. Vocational education, vocational training general education and skill development courses will be designed, developed, delivered, and learners assessed and certified in accordance with the NSQF in consultation with SSCs, industry and employers. In addition to this the industry may also provide support in terms of providing training institutions.
- Horizontal and vertical mobility:
- International comparability: The NSQF will provide a means of articulation and alignment of the Indian Skill Qualification levels with those of other countries and regions. This will help in the mobility of Indian NSQF-aligned Qualification holders to work in and/or relocate to other parts of the world. The NSQF will also be the means of interface with the various geographical regional frameworks that are developing across the world.
The whole notification can be accessed from the below mentioned link.