British body to help Indians cope with globalisation
Thursday, 28 November 2002, 08:00 Hrs
NEW DELHI: As globalisation propels India from an emerging to a surging market, corporates will increasingly require people with skills that the conventional educational system does not provide. Enter City&Guilds, a 125-year-old British institution that claims to be the world's leading vocational awarding body. It has set up shop in India and will offer 500 qualifications across 22 sectors from basic skills to the equivalent of post-graduate degrees. "Degrees must focus on workplace skills because corporates are increasingly talking in terms of human capital instead of human resources. Increasingly, corporates will require people with improved and specialised skills if they are to maintain pace with the speed at which globalisation is racing ahead," said City&Guilds director Robert Coates at a press conference here. Added City&Guilds CEO Michael Swan: "The value placed on vocational learning is still greatly misunderstood, with far too much emphasis placed on academic qualifications. The focus must be on work-based learning which have economic benefits and from which significant personal, family and community value can also be derived." Thus, City&Guilds "will partner industry both in manufacturing as well as the service sector in setting up training institutes benchmarked to international standards," said Swan. The organisation already has 100 centres in India and aims to increase this to 500 in the next five years as it reaches out to smaller cities across the country. This it has done in collaboration with its Indian partners like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), Business Travel International Sita, a division of travel major Kuoni and educational major Rai Foundation. "We design the syllabi, establish the standards to be achieved, conduct educational research and design assessments to measure the ability of learners," said Swan. Thus, Indian students will be able to train in their own towns and cities, with certificates being issued from London on the basis of assessments made by over 1,000 consultants and 1,800 examiners worldwide. "Some one million people from about 120 countries are awarded our certificates every year," Swan said. "In today's knowledge-driven economy, employees continually need to develop their competencies and adopt a positive approach to lifelong learning in order to make the difference between success and failure, and between competitiveness and decline," Coates maintained. "Our qualifications are designed to provide a combination of practical and theoretical knowledge and therefore are recognised by employers as evidence that the holder has the right skills to do a particular job," he said. "I might also tell you that Tony Blair, the British prime minister" has just enrolled for one of our advanced courses to upgrade his skills," he added as an aside. Among the areas in which City&Guilds provides certification are agriculture, catering and hospitality, construction, health and social care, IT, Media, Travel and Tourism, Creative crafts, hairdressing and beauty and telecommunications. "Unlike other institutions, we can quite literally take a person from the illiterate to the post graduate level," Coates contended.