Education Collaborations: AoC India and the Skills Agenda (India)

There has been increasing interest in the skills development arena for India globally. Not least from awarding bodies, skills agencies from the UK, but now also colleges from England, UK – as a consortia supporting the development in accordance with Skills Policy of India for 2022.

The recent development is the signed MOU partnering AoC in India, Sannam S4 and potentially FCCI: as highlighted by colleague Nick Linford, in the recent FE Week

What is absolute key to the success of achieving the goal of skills development India, is working in collaboration, with functional purpose and I would add virtually ‘not for profit’ (as funding institutions with finite budgets that don’t stretch the levels of commitment needed – 500 million is a lot of learners).

KaurSkills has been avidly working for almost 2 years now with strategic partners and training organisations from the UK and in India; with focussed specialist advice, tender support and skills to support the development of Indian national occupational standards, skills development initiatives, workforce planning, labour market intelligence and vocational education developments. This includes engagement with NGOs and their global developments. The cultural picture for implementation and policy initiatives remains in infancy -organised chaos for those waiting, on the outside-in, for an effective and transparent implementation strategy to be announced.

There have been a number of comments, in social media alluding to a potential £14bn incentive or spin for this UK-India colleges collaboration.

While I don’t doubt, that the UK establishment are a key partner even as a consortia with FE in England, and have credible skills solutions, that can support India with their skills deficit solutions. I would begin to have doubt over the incentives that UK bodies believe would benefit UK (England) colleges financially.

Any collaboration of a strategic nature would invite stakeholders and information, to support what has been done to support the skills deficit in India, so far. Why India and key stakeholders have been slow in adopting skills policy and action plans. What the cultural barriers are to ‘reaching out’ with the disengaged, including rural and unorganised sectors. Who has, so far, been invited to support skills development policy and practice globally. And what the key policy drivers, actions and deliverables are, in recognition of formal policy plans as set out by NSDC.

I will say the task at hand is complex, culturally different to the UK with acknowledge differences in demographics and uptake, and will require all stakeholders to connect the dots. I don’t believe there has been an attempt to connect the dots – least of all because there are multiple stakeholders involved and probably not just from the UK alone as I believe there have also been developments with Australia recently. I stand to be corrected, as an organisation who can’t possibly know everything that goes on inside.

Impact, purpose and benefit for learners and employability in India, is what we strive for. I am sure this new collaboration will be aware that UK standards in education won’t necessarily fit, but some engagement with specialist experts outside of the FE offering would be advisable – not least those who have been keenly committed to the agenda of supporting learners, for a number of years, in India.

I extend our continued support to this agenda and welcome extending ties and information share, for this collaboration.

We should be committed to supporting skills development, that creates skills ownership and technically competent skills champions in India, so they are able to maintain skills agenda, employability and economic benefits. Not endorsing skills learning delivery at significant cost to funding institutes. Agree, public and private collaboration will someway support employability drives and funding, but that needs to be effectively managed and embraced by Indians, be equivocal for all learners, and not just MNC driven.

Yes, there are significant benefits above and beyond monies invested in the collaboration: UK-India ties for employment, learning and migration which should support business growth, innovation and knowledge share.

Exciting times ahead yes, but let’s not throw the baby out of the bathwater or discredit what has already been done to support this huge agenda. The more supportive individuals and stakeholders we have from the UK and India that delivers this agenda – the better.

Please note this in no way discourages or discredits AoC India, Sannam S4 partnership activity and MOU launch, but in some way highlights some of the passion specialist individuals have on this very important agenda, as independents working across India and UK.

Those individuals who are beavering away on this agenda, will hopefully relate to this blog. A leadership and management challenge working between two significant countries; yet efforts are worth it. It may be that stakeholders have vested interests that don’t support others who are working in collaboration. How does social media support awareness of what is going on and rationale behind developments?

I will be posting this to various key individuals through twitter channels and welcome response. Either from individuals in India working on this agenda, consultants who have been asked to support this agenda; and those who are taking part in this development. Hopefully, this extends a more transparent way of working and also shares some of concerns independent experts, individuals may have with this collaboration and key messages being shared online.

Personal views expressed and not that of KaurSkills.


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