India is faced with a challenge of educating a 550 million young population, with estimates indicating that its needs an additional 50,000 new Vocational Education Training institutions to meet this demand. As India seeks to build collaboration with Australian technical institutions to meet this skill gap, an Indian-Australian entrepreneur, is working with Australian training institutions to create a market for Australia’s acclaimed vocational education and training in India.
The story of Indian-born Parampreet Singh, a young graduate of Central Queensland University, who migrated to Australia on a student visa in 2003, is symbiotic of two emerging trends.
As the Indian education sector begins to open up, several international institutions from Canada, U.S. UK, and other parts of Europe are looking to set-up campuses in India, to tap vast student base that, otherwise, may not be able to afford foreign education. Mr Singh also represents a new breed of Indian-Australians who using Australian education to help, build closer economic linkages with India.
India’s skill development needs
During his July 2013 visit to Australia, India’s human resources development minister expressed a keen interest to; see deeper partnership and collaboration emerging between Australia’s globally acclaimed vocational education training (VET) institutions and Indian vocational training centres.
Mr Singh’s model seeks to capitalise on this booming demand for vocational training in India. A non-resident Indian entrepreneur in Australia, he has built training collaboration with several Australian institutions, and is now looking to tap into the Indian skill development and training market.
Tapping the potential: New face of Australian-Indians
"Coming myself to Australia in 2003 as an international student, seeing the advantages of our education in Australia, I thought there was so much that we could actually extend to Asia," he told The Australian in a recent article which profiled his journey.
After graduating from the Central Queenland University, Mr Singh established the Australian Vocational Training and Employment Group (AVTEG) at Perth. Since then, he has signed up collaborative agreements with six public and private providers of vocational education and training in Australia.
Mr Singh seeks to create “capsule programs” that range for 120 - 160 hours for a fee range of $300 - $600. His consortium is targeting to train over 62,000 people in India over the next three years period.
However, in a tight-fisted price sensitive market, where even highly-ranked international institutions remain sceptical of success, Mr Singh’s plans may land him in rough weather.
For years, a student visa is seen in India as a potential route for permanent migration to countries like Australia, Canada and Europe. Analysts believed that the success of Australia’s VET programs was that it gave Indian students short duration study options to enter into Australia and later seek permanent status. Evidentially, applications have shapely sharply since Australia tightened its visa norms.
But as demand for highly trained technical workers grows in India, the trends may be changing. At least, that is what Mr Singh will hope for.