IGNOU offers associate degrees

The concept will benefit the country’s huge workforce, which is experienced but does not have a degree or certification

Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) will focus on the development of two critical areas in the field of education — community colleges and skill certification for workforce — in the coming months.

The university is in “constant dialogue” with the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Labour on how to give shape to these concepts, IGNOU Vice-Chancellor V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai said while releasing a report on soft skills training in Madurai recently.

Community colleges

“We have finalised the framework for introducing a new concept called ‘associate degrees’, which will be implemented through community colleges. In a few months, it will be launched for the benefit of the country’s huge workforce, which is experienced but does not have a degree or certification,” he said.

Dr. Pillai released a report on soft skills brought out by the Loyola Institute of Soft Skills, Madurai, based on the findings of a specific study on rural youth.

The university is in the process of launching ‘Assessment and Certification of Prior Learning,’ which will enable skill assessment among the workforce and accordingly certify their skills.

“By their long work experience, people would have acquired knowledge, but would not have a degree. So, we will assess their skills, be it artisans, carpenters, office assistants or any field, and give them suitable certification,” the Vice-Chancellor said.

According to him, the initiative will give them opportunities for vertical mobility and it will also lead to sustainable skill development.


In cases where certain ‘gaps’ are there among the experienced workforce for getting certification, the university would guide them for training also.

A familiar concept

Referring to the steps taken for promoting community colleges, Dr. Pillai said that associate degrees is a concept familiar in the West and “we also feel that community colleges can have a link with higher educational institutions.”

Stephen J. Muthu, director, Loyola Institute of Soft Skills, Madurai, in his presentation said: “There is a mismatch in the job market. Candidates are qualified academically, but still not employable. That requires paying attention to the important aspect of acquiring soft skills, including spoken English and team spirit.”


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