City of Oxford College looks at 2,50,000 learners and 25 Skill Universities in 5 years
Skills and knowledge are the driving force of economic growth and social development for any country. Indian demographic has a unique facet of being fraught with a majority of young populace. The education sector in India is well developed and mature. The nation's educational infrastructure offers a concrete system comprising of Primary education, Secondary education and Higher education.
Potentially the target group for skill development comprises of all those in the labour force, including those entering the labour market for the first time. The current capacity of the skill development programs is 3.1 million. India has a target of skilling 500 people by 2022. According to a survey 2 per cent of the country’s workforce is skilled, which is much lower when compared to the developing nations; there is a dual challenge of developing skills and utilising them in a proper way.
Identifying the gap, Activate Learning plans to enter Indian education market and open institutes to provide the necessary skills. In an interview with Education Biz, Terry Watts, International director, Activate Learning tells us about his expansion plans in India. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
How is Activate Learning unique?
Trading as City of Oxford College in India, Activate Learning applies its innovative Learning Philosophy to everything we do. It involves early engagement with employers and a focus on developing both practical skills as well as the attributes employers look for in new employers. We maintain a "line of sight to employment" throughout our training programs.
What is your opinion on quality of education in India?
We focus on skills development rather than the basics of education. Many people in India have told us and the research figures suggests that there is not sufficient focus on developing the skills that are needed by industry. This leaves many learners poorly prepared to start work after their degrees, and some stay unemployable. There is lots of effort and energy in the sector and we are finding that our approach can provide a fast route for training organisations to increasing the employability prospects of their students.
Highlight the major challenges faced by you. How did you tackle them?
There are so many people working in the sector. Identifying partners who will work with us to actually change the way they do things has been hard. With Franchise India's help we have been able to focus on those who provide the best potential.
How has your journey been so far?
Really exciting! We have found a lot of people who agree with our view of the environment in India and are keen to make a change. We have arrived at a point where we can close agreements very quickly. We are delighted to have already signed up with Times and Trends Academy in Pune and are looking for more partners like them across India.
What is your future road map? Highlight expansions plan, if any.
We are looking for partners in 2 main areas;
1. To franchise our Learning Philosophy approach which will mean reviewing the design and structure of courses to ensure they deliver opportunities to develop employability skills, we will provide training to existing teachers and audit delivery to maintain high levels of quality throughout. We will then offer City of Oxford College certificates.
2. To set up a Skills University, which will deliver postgraduate diplomas in partnership with local employers and provide the best possible employability prospects for its learners. A typical Skills University will, once up and running, support 5000 learners with Postgraduate skills development, and ultimately attain University status and offer full degree courses with skills development and employability built in.
Our aim is to reach 2.5 lakh learners and set up 25 Skills Universities in 5 years.
Share some details about your collaborations with other educational institutes in India.
We first came to India less than 6 months ago and already we have Times and Trends Academy as our first partner. There are a number of discussions going on with other partners and we hope to be able to announce more soon.
What improvements in education do you think Activate Learning can bring in India?
Our focus on engaging employers in support, delivery and project based learning is different from much of what is currently offered in India. Our brand attracts attention from employers and partners to build relationships that otherwise would not have been possible for partners. We believe we can provide the catalyst for change that the people in the sector say is needed leading to more employable products of the skills system.
Share your opinion on skill education. Do you think skill education is important? Elaborate
In an increasingly globalised world skills are, for individuals and nations, one the key distinguishing factors. India has a massive educational delivery system, but to compete with other huge economies, such as China, things need to change. People in India recognise this need, and our hope is that we can play a small part in helping to make these changes.
Do you think the Government policies in India restrict its growth and expansion?
In the education, K12 sector, there does seem to be a strong government presence, which is vital to ensure consistency and quality. As in all parts of the world, however, education needs to continue to evolve to prepare young people for their futures. In the UK, we are pioneers in the development of technical schooling through our University Technical Colleges (UTCs) for 14-18 year olds. Our work in the use of technology in teaching and learning has won the UK Beacon awards and we are helping a number of schools in the UK to develop their provision. Government engagement must enable evolution and change not constraint it.
Our work in India at present is targeted at skills for slightly older students it has been noticeable that there is little Government engagement, at least as far as we have seen so far, and it would be good to have some help to open up Higher Education and build new skills development approaches.
What is your opinion on franchising?
For us franchising is a great way to have a major impact, very quickly and not have to get involved in the complexity of setting up a business of our own in India, and there are lots of great partners out there!
Where do you see Activate Learning in the next 5 years.
With 2,50,000 learners and 25 Skills Universities, helping to lead the changes that India is making in its skills system; a very exciting place!
There is massive scope of development in Education sector of India. Although a number of institutes are successful in being among top 100 in global ranking, deficiency is quite apparent. Institutes should focus on a holistic approach to hone the human resource of the nation, by implementing better solutions. Skill education is much in demand at present and institutes venturing into this domain are bound to earn good social and economic rewards.