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Benefits of Additional Skill Acquisition Program (ASAP)

From earlier times, Kerala has been renowned for its manpower and has been a prominent supplier of skilled human resources to other countries. However, in recent times, despite a fast growing pool of talent, the overall employability rates fall at below 25%. This is in large part due to Kerala being unable to keep up with the skill requirements of today’s rapidly changing world. To combat this, the Higher Education, General Education and Local Self Government Departments of Kerala State Government in India have collaborated to launch the Additional Skill Acquisition Programme (ASAP). This is envisaged as a part of the State Skill Development Programme and aims at enhancing the employability of students passing out of Higher Secondary Schools (+2) as well as Arts and Science Colleges in Kerala. The ASAP programme is the brainchild of Dr. K.M. Abraham, Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Government of Kerala. He is a visionary with a background in Management, Financial and Educational Expert, and is a very successful administrator who belongs to the Indian Administrative Service. Mission The Additional Skill Acquisition Programme has been launched with the mission of imparting effective hands-on skill training to students, which is in addition to their regular academic programme/curriculum. The identification of sectors for skill development and the development of curriculum and training methodologies has been carried out in consultation with industry requirements and best practices. Several sectors have been identified in which this skill training will be carried out. These include Hospitality, Organized Retail, Healthcare, IT & ITES, Event Management, Business Services, Media and Entertainment Industry, Banking and Finance Sector, Construction and Agriculture. Nursing skills are high on the list of training specialisations, as skilled nurses are very much in demand overseas. Student convenience For the convenience of students, this skill training will be conducted before and after school/college timings as well as during the vacation time. When students finish their regular academic programme, they will also be equipped with additional skill certifications. They can get ample job opportunities as soon as they complete each stage of their academic programme, for example after +2 or undergraduate degree such as B.A, B.Sc. etc. Practical skills As practical training is of paramount importance when it comes to vocational skills, there will be facilities for practical training /apprenticeship in related industries of repute. Course credibility It will be ensured that the certifications and course material under this programme are monitored closely and will be aligned with the National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF). Implementation It is planned to implement this programme in Government and Aided Educational Institutions. Specially trained Programme Managers appointed by the ASAP Secretariat that functions under General and Higher Education Departments will be appointed in each institution to coordinate and oversee the programme. Quality of education will be maintained to high levels, and students will be trained by professional and well trained Skill Development Executives. Programme Managers and Skill Development Executives will monitor the creation and validation of advanced skills in related areas. A Lifelong Learning System is also planned to ensure regular updation of knowledge and skills. Community Resource Centres are being set up which will explore all possibilities of lifelong learning including the use of Open Educational Resources. English language skills Kerala youth, especially from villages, have been found to be lacking in English and computer skills and this has been a major setback to their overseas employability opportunities. The training programmes will offer an initial round of soft skill development (Communicative English and IT) which is followed by the intensive training in the selected skill domains. In the coming decade, it is hoped that the success of this project will empower Kerala youth and create sustainable employability and growth in this region.