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Walsall College has joined forces with a host of other UK colleges to set up a permanent base in Delhi and help deliver the UK’s world-class vocational training alongside further education training providers in India, in an effort to meet the country’s growing demand for skills.

Established by the Association of Colleges (AoC), the dedicated team will be based at Sannam S4 Consulting Pvt Ltd and will act as a hub for sharing best practice and forging strong ties between UK and Indian training providers and employers. It represents the largest collective attempt by UK colleges to contribute to India’s ambitious skills strategy to improve the skills of 500 million people by 2022.

The project was officially launched by Minister for Skills, Matthew Hancock MP, in Delhi on Tuesday 22nd January at the British High Commissioner’s Residence in front of a delegation of Indian and UK skills providers, industrial partners, government ministers and civil servants.

Head of International at Walsall College, Manjeet Kumari-Lal represented the college at the launch and said: “Having an established presence with an office in India, is integral to FE Colleges being part of the exciting skills development opportunities and targets set out in the country’s industrial strategy. We will be exporting our expertise in aligning our curriculum to the requirements of employers in economic growth sectors, which in turn provide our learners with skills that lead to jobs.

“Walsall College’s ability to develop flexible, customised, unitised, quality assured programmes that are contextualised to international markets, employers and institutes, will be enhanced with the country specific knowledge, that we gain through the AoC India office. Working as part of a consortium will enable us to deliver to the scale and costs that are required with profit margins that will enable us to generate a return on investment.”

AoC is the membership body for 341 further education colleges in England and has been representing, promoting and supporting colleges since 1996. This new venture in India is a bold move into the international scene and illustrates the importance of the Indian market to British educational institutions.

AoC’s international director, John Mountford, said: “This marks a great opportunity, not only for our member colleges in the UK, but also for a huge variety of education and training providers in India. AoC in India will be a way of sharing educational best practice that has been developed in colleges in the UK over many decades.

“AoC in India represents a strong partnership of UK further education colleges that will work together to effectively engage with leading Indian training, education and industry partners and develop programmes which, due to the scale of the skills drive in India, may involve training local people to train others and ‘cascade’ skills down to the wider population. India has a huge and growing economy and this joint initiative aims to ensure employees and companies have access to the formal training needed to sustain such expansion.”

Adrian Mutton, CEO and founder of Sannam S4, said: “The skills challenge in India is immense and the Association of Colleges and its members are well positioned to contribute to tackling this. Our local knowledge and expertise of the education and skills markets in both the UK and India will help the AoC team identify training opportunities.”

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