[Model Answer QP2021 GS2] “‘Earn while you learn’ scheme needs to be strengthened to make vocational education and skill training meaningful.” Comment.

Introduction
‘Earn While You Learn’ scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Tourism. It envisages to inculcate appropriate tourism travel traits and knowledge amongst trainees to enable them to work as ‘student volunteers’.

‘Earn While You Learn’ scheme provides short term training, dedicated to travel industry, to college-going students pursuing graduation courses or graduates in the age group of 18 to 25 years.

Benefits of ‘Earn While You Learn’ Program

1. Provides opportunities to students to earn while learning to meet their expenses.
2.  Exposes the students to the world of work before actual employment.
3. Gives students hands on experience and confidence thereby prepares them better for taking up jobs in future.
4. Enables the students to explore their subject preferences and develop them into a career.
5. Helps inculcate in the students values of hard work and dignity of labour.
6. Helps to channelize the in exhaustive energy of the young students in positive activities.

Needs to be strengthened to make vocational education and skill training meaningful:

1. Expand the Scope: Currently, the scheme targets college-going students pursuing graduation courses or recent graduates. The scope can be expanded to include vocational education students, high-school students, and young adults not in education, employment, or training (NEETs), thereby opening avenues for a wider section of youth.

2. Industry Partnerships: The scheme can establish partnerships with a wider range of industry stakeholders, including hotels, travel agencies, tourism boards, and cultural sites. These collaborations can provide valuable practical exposure and mentorship opportunities for the student volunteers.

3. Diverse Skill Development: The training offered under the scheme should cover a diverse range of skills relevant to the tourism industry, such as language skills, soft skills, knowledge about local culture and heritage, digital literacy, etc. This would enhance the employability of the trainees beyond just the volunteer role.

4. Quality Assurance and Certification: The scheme should ensure the quality of training and the volunteer experience. Further, the trainees should be given a certificate recognized by the industry upon completion of their training and volunteer work, which would aid in their future employment. Protection of Interests: Regulations need to be in place to protect the interests of the student volunteers, such as fair treatment, provision for insurance, and a decent stipend. This would encourage more students to participate in the scheme.

5. Continuous Evaluation and Feedback: There should be a mechanism to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the scheme and gather feedback from the participants and the industry. This would help in identifying areas of improvement and ensuring that the scheme stays relevant to the needs of the tourism industry and the job market.
Conclusion
The National Education Policy 2020 is also in line with the concept of Earn while you learn concept that helps inculcate the values of hard work and dignity of labour in students.

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