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The Corporation

Posted: 26/11/15

College’s skills expertise goes global

West Nottinghamshire College has hosted a visit by Indian government representatives as part of a fact-finding mission to help shape the nation’s skills agenda.

  • Dame Asha Khemka welcomes the visitors to college
  • Head of engineering Brian Malyan (centre) gives the delegation a tour of the Engineering Innovation Centre
  • Head of construction Julian Walden discusses the provision offered at the construction and building services centre
  • Dame Asha with (from left) Leighton Ernsberger, Sachin Satpute, Sibi Chakravarthy, Ranjan Choudhury and John Mountford

A delegation of senior skills practitioners visited the college last week (Friday 20 November 2015) to learn about its approach to vocational education and training, which they hope to replicate in India.

They included civil servant Mr Sibi Chakravarthy, an Indian Administrative Service officer who represents the Government of India; Mr Ranjan Choudhury, head of investing and incentivising at the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC); and Mr Sachin Satpute, director at the Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT), Pune.

The officials inform the work of the recently-formed Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship set up by the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to achieve the country’s ambitions of training 500 million people in vocational skills by 2022.

Joining them were Leighton Ernsberger, assistant skills director at the British Council in India, and John Mountford, international director of the Association of Colleges (AoC), who also heads up AoC India – a consortium of UK colleges working with Indian partners to provide world-class vocational education and training.

After being welcomed by principal and chief executive Dame Asha Khemka – the founding chair of AoC India – the guests took part in a discussion with senior leaders and chair of governors Nevil Croston about the work of the college, before hearing from representatives of its subsidiary company, bksb, about its successful expansion into India.

They then toured the college’s state-of-the-art engineering and construction facilities in Sutton-in-Ashfield and Kirkby-in-Ashfield, respectively – speaking to staff and watching students learn their trades – before touring its flagship Derby Road campus in Mansfield.

The visit by the Indian officials was seen as a major coup for the college, forming a part of their four-day trip to the UK that also took in the Skills Show – the UK’s largest skills and careers event – and the AoC’s annual conference, both in Birmingham.

The skills mission was jointly organised by the UK-India Education and Research Initiative – which aims to enhance educational links between both countries – and the British Council.

Dame Asha said: “It was a huge honour to welcome such esteemed guests and show them how we do things. The fact they chose to visit us is testament to our reputation for high-quality technical education and vocational training, which is attracting the attention of ministers, civil servants and policy-makers far and wide.

“India is hungry for skills and growth, and the UK has a world-class further education system. Together our nations can learn a great deal from each other. That’s why I’m delighted the college’s approach to equipping students with cutting-edge technical skills within industry-standard facilities is influencing and shaping Indian governmental policy.”

Mr Sibi Chakravarthy, who is also chief executive of Madhya Pradesh Council of Vocational Education and Training (MPCVET), said: “I’ve learnt such a lot and been very impressed by what I’ve seen – from the leadership within the organisation to the students working hard in the classrooms and training areas.

“It’s been a pleasure to meet Dame Asha and her team, who are doing a wonderful job. I’m grateful for this opportunity to see these wonderful facilities and hope to replicate some of the practices I’ve seen here within colleges back in India.”

West Nottinghamshire College is already at the forefront of helping meet India’s aspirations for growth, with the country predicted to become the third-largest economy by 2050.

Earlier this year, its long-established subsidiary company bksk – a market-leader in English, maths and IT online assessments – introduced its ‘Skills Anytime’ products to the sub-continent after opening a head office and training centre in Chandigarh.

The college is also supporting the creation of two community colleges in the State of Madhya Pradesh and a vocational training centre in the rural village of Sanghol, specialising in construction-related crafts. The latter has involved designing the curriculum and training the tutors who will deliver it to students.

In 2013, Dame Asha joined Prime Minister David Cameron on a trade mission to India to forge greater links between the two nations and promote British business abroad.