In the cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday, the ‘Ujjwala man’ Dharmendra Pradhan bagged the ministry of education and retained Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. His appointment is viewed as an important push to synchronize efforts of various departments of the government in mainstreaming skill education, as emphasized in the New Education Policy 2020.
Pradhan takes over Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank who resigned earlier today. Both Education and Skilled Ministries have been merged.
The longest-serving Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas in India, Pradhan is also known as the “Ujjwala Man”. As Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, he undertook several key initiatives including a new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy.
As Minister of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Pradhan launched many key initiatives focused on bridging the gap between educated youth and the need for an employable workforce. Many skill-based initiatives including Skill Saathi were launched under his tenure. He dedicated time to enhance the number of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and student enrollment.
Pradhan started his political career Odisha assembly election from Pallalhara in 2000. Son of former BJP MP Debendra Pradhan, Dharmendra Pradhan is a postgraduate. He pursued MA in Anthropology from Utkal University Bhubaneswar.
The problem in skill education has been “mismatch between demand and supply and limited scope for vertical mobility,” as per the experts in the field. With lack of avenues for vertical mobility a synchronized and coordinated approach has been long overdue for the program to start. There is a need to develop industry alignment for vocational education through experiential learning, and VET research. This area is expected to get a boost.
The New Education Policy emphasizes reimagining Vocational Education and recommended vocational education from Classes 6–8. It has envisaged a system that integrates vocational education with mainstream education through a multidisciplinary approach.