The government of Odisha's department of school and mass education and the Wadhwani Foundation Skills Development Network signed a memorandum of understanding Aug. 26 at the Odisha Investors' Meet in Bangalore.

The strategic partnership will make Odisha a leader in the "Smart State" initiative through talent development, according to a Wadhwani Foundation — founded by Indian American entrepreneur Romesh Wadhwani — news release.

It will initiate large-scale vocational education in Odisha's secondary schools and aims at enhancing employability of students through four years of skills-based training in a vocational subject, enabling students to be job-ready upon high school graduation.

Additionally, the MoU expects that it will result in quality skills training to accelerate job creation and accrue demographic dividends for the state of Odisha.

The MoU, the foundation said, is a significant step in creating the much needed integrated system that will support the full life-cycle of entrepreneurship, innovation and skilling to make Odisha a leader in job creation and talent development through industry linkages with local industry associations and Sector Skills Councils.

School and mass education commissioner-cum-secretary Ranjana Chopra and Wadhwani Foundation SDN director Austin Thomas exchanged the MoU during the Odisha Investors Meet in the presence of Odisha government dignitaries.

“Odisha’s Smart State initiative will focus on job creation and job fulfillment through building and supporting the full life-cycle of the skilling, entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems," Wadhwani Foundation president and CEO Dr. Ajay Kela said in a statement. "Leading with skilling and large-scale vocationalization of secondary schools in Odisha, this initiative aims to equip high-school graduates with sufficient work-skills to command family supporting wages."

Added Kela, "This collaboration between Odisha Government and Skills Development Network of Wadhwani Foundation is the first step towards high-quality job creation and job fulfillment in the state.”

The MoU suggests providing four years of purposeful, result-oriented skills based training in a vocational subject of the students’ choice from a selection of vocations offered to them.

“The MoU with Wadhwani Foundation for introducing vocational education in the schools in Odisha is part of the larger Vocational Skills Development initiative undertaken in the state," Chopra said in a statement. "Two hundred and eight schools are being taken up in the first phase and we are hopeful that in partnership with Wadhwani Foundation, we will be able to upscale the program in the future to many more schools.”

The other phase of the program is to introduce a parallel, dedicated vocational stream for Class XI onwards that offers a diploma in vocational education to those students who aspire for vocational careers.

The SDN will provide effective program management, the technology platform, e-content and knowledge management expertise to operationalize the Program Management Unit within Odisha state. The state will set up and run the Program Management Unit.

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