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UK colleges cash in on India VET demand

The Association of Colleges (AoC), a UK organisation promoting FE and HE, will open a permanent office in Delhi, India this month as part of an initiative to promote 30 UK colleges during a time of  high demand for vocational skills in the country. It hopes to leverage a consortium-level approach to meeting India’s skills needs.

It estimated that just 2% of India's workforce has had formal job training

“There’s a huge demand for trained work force in India,” AoC International Director John Mountford told The PIE News. “It can’t be met by only domestic training providers.”

“At such scale it’s difficult for individual colleges to get into the market”

The AoC India Initiative will focus on business development operations and establishing a consortium-led approach among India and UK institutions to tackle the high volume of demand. “At such scale it’s difficult for individual colleges to get into the market,” explained Mountford.

In 2008 the Indian government launched The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to improve the skills of 500 million people by the nation’s 75th anniversary in 2022. It estimated that just 2% of India’s workforce has had formal job training.

The objective of NSDC is to contribute to 30% of overall upskilling via public and private partnerships with education providers and private industry from around the world. Institutions from Canada, the US, Australia and Germany already have a permanent presence in India.

Mountford is confident the reputation of the UK brand will resonate in the market, giving AoC members an edge on foreign competitors. “We hope the project adds real value to what the institutions are doing in India. We’re going to make sure there’s a clear understanding of what our colleges can offer,” he said.

Participating colleges include Birmingham Metropolitan College, Edinburgh College and Guildford College of Further and Higher Education.

“We’re going to make sure there’s a clear understanding of what our colleges can offer”

The India Initiative is the first one of its scale and size for UK institutions even though individual UK colleges have successfully set up offices, such as New College Nottingham and Bourneville College. Wigan and Leigh College has campuses across the country.

UK Skills Minister Matthew Hancock as well as senior Indian stakeholders will attend the 22 January launch of the office in Delhi. Mountford said setting up a permanent base in the country was essential to achieving long-term goals. “To properly engage you need a permanent presence. You can’t just fly in and fly out.”

In further efforts to answer the skills shortage, the Indian government this month selected three states for the National Vocational Education Qualification Framework pilot programme which will incorporate vocational courses in the present education system from high school to the higher education level. As many as 10,000 students will benefit from the programme initially.


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