U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter (third from left), Shoreline’s Director of Admissions and Immigration Services (second from right) and other officials.
Shoreline Community College was front and center in the US-India Higher Education Dialogue featuring Secretary of State, John Kerry, as well as Under Secretaries of Education and Public Diplomacy and Indian government officials, industrialists and institutions in New Delhi on June 25.
Samira Pardanani, Director of Admissions and Immigration Services in the International Education department represented Shoreline in a delegation led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). The dialogue was preceded by a 10-day study tour to visit a variety of vocational/technical institutions and meet with different skills development stakeholders.
Workforce training, vocational education, technical certifications and skills gap are buzzwords in India. This is not likely to stop anytime soon. Here is why:
- India will have 600 million people under the age of 25 in the next decade making it the youngest country on the planet.
- Today’s Indian youth have more aspirations than previous generations.
- It will be impossible to meet the demand for living wage jobs without the development of a formal workforce education sector.
- Workforce education has been a neglected in India and is woefully inadequate to meet the demands of a growing economy and private industry sector.
Recognizing the urgency to educate and train 500 million Indians by 2022, the Indian government is looking at workforce development models in various countries and has announced a goal of setting up 200 pilot community colleges in the near future. The challenges facing India are numerous and include:
- The lack of status that vocational education enjoys compared with academic education
- The sheer population numbers in India
- The lack of consistency and regulatory controls among the thousands of vocational training institutes that have mushroomed around the country
- Considerable bureaucracy and a rigid educational system
Challenges notwithstanding, there is a huge potential for collaboration. AACC has been advocating collaboration with U.S. community colleges. This goal was clearly achieved at the dialogue during which India’s Human Resource Minister Pallam Raju announced the country’s intention to establish community colleges based on the U.S. model. Secretary John Kerry in his speech said that India and the US have the capacity to lead global education and need to lead the way, as a large young population has to be trained. He came out strongly in support of U.S. community colleges, calling them “a lifeline”. A number of MOUs were signed including one between AACC and the All India Council of Technical Education. A white paper detailing the replication of training provided by the National Consortium of Certification Centers (NC3) in Morocco was presented. Shoreline Community College is a member of the consortium.
Automotive Technology sector is one of India’s priority sectors. Given Shoreline’s Automotive Technology program is one of the best in the country, there are avenues for mutually beneficial collaboration. Also, online education will be an important mode of educational delivery in India – one reason being the dearth of instructors and the scale of the need. Another avenue for collaboration will be in providing crucial leadership training to Indian community college leaders.
Less than ten days after participating in the AACC delegation, the College received a request to host the Chair of India’s autonomous and newly formed National Skills Development Agency, Dr. S. Ramadorai. Dr. Ramadorai holds a cabinet level position in India’s national government with his agency playing a central role to advance India’s workforce initiatives. He happens to be an industry giant in India as the former CEO and current vice-chairman of Tata Consultancy Services, India’s largest IT Services company and chairman of the Bombay Stock Exchange. The visit to Shoreline went extremely well. Dr. Ramadorai met with President Daryl Campbell, Executive Director of International Education, Diana Sampson, Dean Susan Hoyne, Director of Admissions/Immigration, Samira Pardanani, and Pubic Information Director, Jim Hills. Dr. Ramadorai visited the Automotive Technology, Biotechnology and Manufacturing departments where he had a chance to interact directly with program faculty.
While India will likely not replicate the U.S. community college system—as its demographics and ground realities are very different—the 100 years of experience attributed to US community colleges will be invaluable to Indian leaders as they strive to address a growing skills gap. Shoreline Community College is in a great position to build meaningful collaborations with India and develop opportunities for student and faculty exchange.