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India seeks US partnership to build global workforce

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: India has sought more institution level academic collaborations with the US to help build a robust vocational education system through community colleges to prepare the global workforce of the 21st century.

“The workforce of the future will be global, their skill sets requiring international acceptance,” Indian Minister of Human Resource Development, M. Mangapati Pallam Raju, said here Monday at a policy briefing in support of the US-India Higher Education Dialogue.

“Community colleges can partner with us in developing the curriculum and pedagogy for the global workforce of the 21st century,” he said seeking “further institution level collaborations and hand holding” in India’s efforts in this regard.

“The experience of community colleges in developing the workforce for the US in the 20th century will stand us in good stead and inspire us by example,” Raju said.

US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert O. Blake and Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao also participated in the discussion on “Advancing US-India Academic Partnerships” at the Institute of International Education.

Besides community college collaboration and workforce development, expanding opportunities for US students in India and the use of open educational resources and educational technologies to expand access to and improve quality of education were also discussed.

Raju said for building a robust vocational education system that links education to the world of work, India had approved the National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) for the award of qualifications of international standards accepted by industry globally.

Global students would understand and learn about management of diversity in India far better than elsewhere in the world, he said.

India’s University Grants Commission (UGC) was finalising details on “Connect to India” initiative that will provide US students opportunities to spend some time in India’s quality institutions for learning about its life, society, culture, economy, polity and business, Raju said.

The HRD ministry had also initiated a few steps to ensure creation of a framework that facilitates closer and fruitful interaction between the tertiary educational institutions of India and the US.

UGC is also finalising regulations on academic collaboration between Indian and foreign educational institutions, Raju said expressing the “hope that it would spur greater and closer interactive learning and knowledge creation with US institutions”.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])