The world of academics and vocational training is expanding rapidly in India. Just as well. India has the biggest young population in the world ‘ it is projected that by the year 2020, 65 per cent of the nation’s labour force will be under the age of 30. The need for scaling up skill development in conventional and unconventional entrepreneurial domains is, therefore, immense.
The proliferation of niche, specialised courses is an expected response to the changing realities of one of the world’s fastest growing economies. It has thrown open new opportunities for students seeking careers that go beyond the conventional. Cosmetology, for instance, is serious business today. So is Biodiversity Conservation. And these are only two of the numerous options that are available to the academically adventurous.
A large majority of aspirants in India still probably dream of being engineers, doctors or corporate executives ‘ and that is quite understandable for job security is the prime consideration ‘ but not everybody today needs to confine himself/herself within familiar pastures. There is life beyond arts, commerce and science.
Let us take one example. The success story scripted by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has changed the face of the city. It has emerged as a model of infrastructure development for other Indian metros. But there is something else that Delhi Metro has done ‘ it has created a demand for manpower to run its services. So, today a Metro Technology course is offered by several institutes.
But those that aren’t cut out for a technology-oriented course can give Fashion Styling a shot. The course, offered by National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and Pearl Academy, among others, has been attracting students. Manoj Kumar, a NIFT graduate, says: ‘This course widens one’s horizons and professional choices.’ Fashion Styling covers make-up, hair grooming, photography, and computer and IT applications.
Manoj and two of his outstation friends studied Fashion Styling in NIFT and stayed together during the course but are today in different fields. ‘I am a senior quality inspector, one is in merchandise and the third works in Arvind Mills. Once your foundation is strong, you can choose your own line and branch out,’ he says. Manoj belongs to a lower middle class rural family where the focus was on job orientation. Hence, when he decided to join NIFT, his father was rather unhappy for he was unsure what the future held. ‘I have managed to prove that my decision was right. I travel around the world and my father has no reason for complaints anymore.’ Yet another rapidly growing area of expertise is media and entertainment management. With media platforms mushrooming around the country, the business needs professionally trained MBAs who can market, manage and lead brands. An MBA degree with specialisation in media and entertainment degree is much sought after these days.
In the fast evolving domain of new age courses, even a non-science student can opt to study Science Policy. Take the case of Rahul Mane, a Pune-based journalist. Until recently, he wasn’t even aware of such a course. He is now a Science Policy student gathering holistic knowledge about society, environment, culture, history and the effect that they have on science.
Says Rahul: ‘This course is offered in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, JNU and Central University of Gujarat but with different names. This is a research-oriented study which apprises a candidate of the effects of history, geography, economics and environment on science and technology. It will help me get a job in research, an advisory position in the government, an NGO or the UN.’
According to leading career counsellor Pervin Malhotra, it is crucial for students to get into unconventional courses with their ears and eyes open. When choosing a course, they should be clear about what they intend to do in the future. She says: ‘One must choose these new courses with due diligence for it will take them some time to establish scope of employability.’ Of course, fresh opportunities are being presented with bright career prospects as a lure. As the course fees aren’t negligible, parents and students alike should tread with caution. The surge in different new age courses is a good sign for the Indian education scenario given the traditional rigid and compartmentalised courses did not give any leverage with the skills to students who wish to take advantage of emerging opportunities coming due to influx of MNCs and billions of dollars of investment. Alongside is a suggested list of new courses and some of relevant institutes.