Gender Restrictions in Indian Vocational Training and How They Harm Women

Skills development, whether basic training or upgrading, is essential in all sectors of an economy. While formal education (i.e. basic school education where subjects like math, science, social studies etc. are taught from beginner level) is compulsory for all Indians , not all types of education provide students with employment opportunities. This is where vocational education and vocational training are supposed to come in. According to the Indian Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Vocational Education and Training (VET) is also known as Vocational and Technical Education (CTE), or sometimes simply as Technical Education. education. It is essentially a form of education which “prepares learners for jobs based on manual or practical activities, traditionally non-academic and totally linked to a specific trade, profession or vocation”.

AICTE also notes that India has a long history of vocational education, yet most vocations in our history have been restricted to certain classes and castes. This has inevitably led to the age-old stigma associated with people taking up any vocation they love or have an affinity for. With the advent of the 20th and 21st centuries, however, these barriers have been dismantled to some extent, not only through the plans and programs launched by successive governments of independent India, but also due to greater mechanization industries. It is also because of these changes that the Indian economy, in particular, now recognizes the value of vocational and technical education. Thus, more technical schools, subsidized apprenticeships or internships and development initiatives have been created in recent decades.

And yet, a major obstacle to vocational education still exists, mainly due to gender restrictions that prevent women from working in certain types of occupations. These constraints are usually based on patriarchal or regressive stereotypes about women, their abilities and their assigned role in society. Here’s everything you need to know about these gender-specific restrictions on job training.

Gender restrictions that women face

According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), the gender-related restrictions that women face when pursuing vocational training actually occur all over the world, and not just in India. According to their 2015 study titled ‘Differences in the effects of professional training on men and women: constraints on women and abandonment behaviors‘, at least some of the following restrictions come into play when women attempt to enter and remain in the vocational training field:

• Women and girls are, on average, less educated than men. This affects their ability to choose a career and take advantage of it.

• Women tend to have more dependents and are also forced to spend more time on household chores (which are unpaid) than on paid work.

• Women report that constraints such as family obligations, marriage, pregnancy or caring for the elderly are the main reasons for dropping out.

• Vocational training is expensive and many women do not have access to the funds needed to attend the training. Getting the training often involves tapping into women’s savings.

• Vocational training still largely depends on mentoring by master craftspersons through apprenticeships, many of whom are men. The atmosphere doesn’t always scream equality or equal opportunity for women, and studies indicate that men are three times more likely to get a paid job offer after these internships than men. .

• Vocational training often leads to contract jobs that are traditionally considered “unsafe” for women, both because of their interactive and outdoor nature and because of a higher risk of injury. Due to mobility restrictions and these security issues, women often find themselves excluded from certain areas of professional study.

Because of all these constraints, women who seek vocational training are clearly more constrained, receive less good training, are less supported and are therefore more likely to have poor training results. These restrictions also seriously impede the acquisition or development of skills in the case of women.

How gender dictates the vocations women choose

Despite all these obstacles, there are a number of career-based fields where women have not only made inroads, but even dominated. What are these sectors? They include beauty (including hairdressing, makeup, retail and other parts of the industry), clothing (including mass tailoring, design and fashion retail), health care (especially nursing and licensed health social work) and others such as floristics. These sectors are therefore often referred to as “feminized” vocations because of the predominance of women. However, the catch is that women and girls interested in vocational training are often clustered in these sectors, as it is still extremely difficult for women to thrive in mechanized, technological or even manual fields such as carpentry, construction, professional/commercial cooking. , etc.

But such bias is always a double-edged sword, as people who identify as male, gay, or transgender also struggle to break into these so-called “feminized” areas. In fact, people who belong to the wider LGBTQIA+ community often struggle to manage any kind of gender in the workplace, as these gender restrictions usually only recognize and value binaries. So, in essence, gender-related restrictions in vocational education and training negatively affect people of all genders and identities, not just women.

How far is India with vocational education for women

And yet, there is now more quantifiable data on women and their place within the vocational education system in India, highlighting an issue that has clearly been swept under the rug for far too long. According to a 2021 report in The Times of India by economist Mitali Nikore, around 88.5 million young women who could empower India’s economy as skilled workers have not received any form of education, employment or training between 2017 and 2022. The number of women who received vocational training in any form fell from 6.8% in 2011-2012 to only 6.9% in 2018-2019, compared to an increase from 14.6% to 15.7% for men during the same periods.

The report also noted that most women who received vocational training in India during this period continued to be concentrated in “non-engineering and labor-intensive sectors and occupations”. work”. Prime Minister Kauchal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) encouraged short-term training programs, but 49.9% of enrolled students were women, almost all of whom had vocational training in “feminized” sectors. The report also notes that between 2014 and 2019, 17% of enrollments in industrial training institutes (ITIs) were women. While women made up only 4.3% of enrollments in engineering trades, they made up 54.7% of enrollments in non-engineering trades.

Evidence therefore indicates that restrictions and gender bias still hinder the growth of women in the vocational education and training sectors, thus also limiting the role that this part of the population plays in the economy. As India’s economy now struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and charts a new course through big data, mechanization, artificial intelligence, analytics and robotics, the moment may have come from “feminizing” more sectors of the economy through vocational education. and improvement.

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