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UK colleges could inspire India, says diplomat

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The FE sector in England could provide a model of employer engagement for its counterpart in India, according to a senior diplomat.

Ranjan Mathai, the High Commissioner of India to the UK, said his country could learn from English colleges how employers and education can work more closely together.

Mr Mathai was speaking after a tour of the state-of-the-art engineering and construction facilities at West Nottinghamshire College last week at the invitation of principal Dame Asha Khemka.

“I was particularly impressed by the industrial training in engineering and construction at the college,” he said. “These were really impressive places and the quality of the work is excellent.

“In India, we have similar institutes of training in these areas. We can certainly learn from this college how well connected you are with employers, while we move towards training millions of citizens in vocational subjects.

“It’s great to see close relations with businesses who help ensure the course content and the work undertaken is constantly updated to meet employers’ needs. When apprentices come in they can be already confident that they have great skills which are attractive to employers.”

Mr Mathai, a former Indian foreign secretary, spoke about the impact of the relations between the two countries and how business and education are developing rapidly in India, which wants to train more than 500 million people in vocational skills by 2022.

West Nottinghamshire principal Dame Asha, who arranged the visit, has championed the role of UK FE colleges in supporting the Indian government’s ambitions.

She helped found AoC India, a partnership of UK colleges aiming to help meet the sub-continent’s skills agenda, and has accompanied Prime Minister David Cameron on trade missions to the sub-continent.

Dame Asha, who married at the age of 15 and arrived in the UK from India with three small children and unable to speak English, was honoured for her work to improve relations between India and the UK with the inaugural Dadabhai Naoroji Award for Education last October.

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