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Vocation with Tradition

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The interpretation of education has changed quite considerably over the years. Where once students opted for conventional educational courses the idea of taking up more challenging vocational courses has become the norm in present times. However, students do prefer to take up such non-mainstream courses not on a stand-alone basis, but alongside the more traditional educational streams, says Sharada Iyer.

In the current market scenario, it has become necessary for individuals to acquire knowledge not just about one particular subject, but other correlated ones as well. Alternatively, choosing a vocational stream doesn’t always have to be about correlation with the mainstream studies. Anand Ramachandran shares, “Given the ways in which the services and consumer sectors have been expanding in the past few years, the scope for alternative livelihoods has become abundant.

Even if it is not for the sake of a job, developing a serious hobby might be found an enriching and even necessary practice in today's busy schedules, which will need skill-set development verging on that of a vocation. Some of these may have to do with just practicing what one already knows. Writing, or from recent vocabulary, content generation is one such.

“For many, music is another activity that has picked up amid the hectic demands of academics. However, a job can provide the money and a healthy work-schedule and time to pursue it more actively. Also, with the internet being the home of a lot of free and legal media, there is lots of scope to increase and broaden one's interest in music.” An electronics engineer by profession, Anand dabbles as a sportswriter, while being an avid blogger and musician.        

Unlike Anand who has chosen to step out from the realm of engineering, there are many who have integrated their vocational passion into a successful career choice. This can be taken as a fail-safe option as, if at all one’s intended career fails to take off as expected, the person won’t be left stranded without any other options. Along with these criteria, there is also the aspect of successful incorporation of one’s passion into one’s professional life, so as to enhance it. Raunek Kantharia who successfully clubbed his thirst for technology and writing, by starting a content website MarineInsight.com a few years ago, says, “I started my career as an engineer because technology was something that I was always keen on. And since I also enjoy writing, starting a website that catered to both needs seemed like the most logical choice.”

He further adds, “Fruitfully incorporating one’s passions into one’s career ensures that boredom is kept at bay at all times.” And just as there are added benefits to individuals picking up vocational courses, even companies and organisations get a value addition.

Contemporarily, the job market favours those individuals who are able to multi-task successfully. Foreign language expert, Ketaki Tarde started learning Japanese right after the completion of her graduation in commerce.

She states, “A vocational course, in language for example, gives an edge to people considering that the nation is going global today. Similarly the organisation also doesn’t need to lookout for specifically proficient individuals, when their needs are being met by within the organisation itself.”

Perhaps this is the reason, certain companies offer customised language courses in tie-ups with renowned language institutions. In professional domains like Business Processing Units (BPOs) and Knowledge Processing Units (KPOs), such a measure would go a long way in establishing a dual enrichment of the organisation and its work-force.

However, amidst all these positives that emerge as a potentially strong motivator for one to take up vocational education streams, it’s not as though the choice is without loopholes. Elaborating on this aspect of loopholes Ketaki states, “While vocational courses provide a much valued incentive to one’s career, they are not the be all and end all. Students find themselves at a loss to focus on just one area, which creates a distinct lack of specialisation even while seemingly offering lots of opportunities. At the end of it all, the individual starts to turn into a Jack of all trades, but a master in none.”      
        
Contributing her views as an educator, Prof. Asha Gala adds, “The market today demands not just pure theoretical knowledge but also practical knowledge, which is not necessarily available in the traditional courses. However, too much emphasis on vocational education brings out a commercial attitude, without satisfying the urge for in-depth knowledge. There is an emergence of market driven perspectives and attributes, which do not necessarily bring out a desirable attitude in students.”

As important as it is to strike a perfect chord between fulfilling both mainstream and vocational educational requirements, all imbalances also need to be sorted out. Though there isn’t one particular solution to this conundrum, parent Sumathi Rajagopalan underscores, “Both mainstream and vocational studies need to be taken as a priority. Students may not like to constantly study educational curriculum, but parents need to channelise their focus through mentoring. Along with parents, even student peer groups can help bring out a healthy fulfilment of educational and vocational requirements.”

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