Poor students of rural area in Himachal Pradesh can now hope to improve employability with vocational degree course.

For the first time, the state government is introducing Bachelor of Vocation (BVoc) degree in 12 government colleges from ensuing academic session, integrating it with Skill Development Allowance scheme for students with poor background.

“To begin with, the admissions will be done on the basis of merit in XII standard. The students, who pass out Class XII with vocational course, will have some seats reserved in BVoc. The students, who fit into the eligibility criterion of skill development allowance scheme, would be given Rs 1,000 allowance per month for a period of three years,” Principal Secretary, Education, R D Dhiman said.

The eligibility for beneficiaries for skill development allowance is less than Rs two lakh annual income of the family. “It will give an opportunity to rural and poor students get an education which can get them jobs early. We can expand in future based on the response to the course,” he said.

Dhiman said that the three-year degree course is being started in two streams- Retail Management and Tourism and Hospitality.

Each stream will have 40 seats in each college.

The government degree colleges, where BVoc is being started include Sanjauli, Rampur, Solan, Nahan, Bilaspur, Una, Mandi, Kullu, Chamba, Dharamshala and Nurpur.

The skill component (60 per cent) of the vocational degree is being facilitated by HP Kaushal Vikas Nigam (HPKVN) with the support of Asian Development Bank, while the general course curriculum will be taken care of by the college.

“The degree will be National Skill Qualification Compliant and will be equivalent to all other degree programmes like BSc, BA, BCom etc. The course will help the students get jobs immediately as we will have a system of campus placements for them,” said Rajesh Sharma, Managing Director, HPKVN.  

A day long workshop for implementation of the BVoc Programme in degree colleges of the state government was organised here jointly by HPKVN and Higher Education department on Saturday to work out finer details.

Himachal Pradesh government had started skill development allowance scheme for unemployed youth aged between 16-36 years in the state to help them get jobs. The maximum income limit for a beneficiary under the scheme was fixed at Rs two lakh per annum from all sources. So far, 57,058 youth are enrolled with the scheme.

The HPKVN has been establishing linkages with the industry in HP to provide jobs to the youths who go for skill development under the scheme. The skill development allowance was earlier construed as an alternate to unemployment allowance promised by Congress in polls. However, the government had to recently announce unemployment allowance of Rs. 1,000 per month separately (with some fixed criteria) under pressure from the party to fulfil poll promise.