Date: 19th June 2012
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Rutgers University will partner with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai to help fill the desperate need to develop the skills of the world's largest young workforce. One of the key aspects of the program is to create a new national vocational school in India that will eventually train up to 1 million people each year.
An approximately $250,000 grant from the Obama-Singh Knowledge Initiative will help fund the Rutgers-Tata Institute’s efforts to build India’s higher education capacity. The initiative was announced in 2009 by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to encourage mutual understanding, facilitate educational reform, foster economic development and engage civil society through academic cooperation with Indian institutions of higher education.
“India has a pressing need to create more good skill development options for its ‘demographic dividend’ – the more than 550 million young Indians under the age of 25,” said David Finegold, Rutgers’ senior vice president for lifelong learning and strategic growth. “We are delighted that the Obama-Singh Initiative grant will help us meet this need.
The proposed national vocational school will be designed to assist the up to 80 percent of Indian graduates considered unemployable by multinational companies and to increase the number of young people taking part in formal vocational education and training (currently just 4 percent of the population).
"The Obama-Singh Knowledge Initiative grant provides us a great opportunity to work closely in trying to understand the way vocational education can be mainstreamed. We also would like to look at some successful global institutional models on vocational training and learn from these to adapt this to Indian conditions," said Venkatesh Kumar, a professor at the School of Labour and Management Studies at the Tata Institute.
The school will provide students with high quality education and training relevant to employer needs using a model that consists of three main components:
- Centers of excellence in sector niches (e.g., auto manufacturing, healthcare) that will be located near clusters of top employers in that sector
- Hubs located across the country connected with the centers of excellence to provide classroom-based instruction and assessment of skills
- Employer affiliates to provide on-the-job training based on industry standards.
Rutgers will evaluate the project as it develops and identify faculty experts in the vocational school to partner with Indian researchers in each center of excellence. Rutgers has several leading experts skilled in developing and providing vocational education and training, making it an ideal strategic partner for this ambitious skills initiative.
“At the root of it, we believe – both the United States and India – that extending the benefits of higher education to as many people as possible is not only the right thing to do, but it is the smart thing as well, to help better equip our people to compete in today’s global economy,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the announcement of the awards during the U.S.-India Higher Education Dialogue in Washington, D.C.
In addition to the support from the Obama-Singh Initiative, the Tata Institute has received 10 Crores, (roughly $2.2 million), from the Indian Government’s Skill Mission to create the national vocational school. Rutgers and the Tata Institute are seeking leading companies who will benefit from improvements in India’s workforce skills, as well as nongovernmental organizations, governments and other partners.
The funds from the Obama-Singh Initiative will support a range of other exciting programs and partnerships with top Indian and U.S. institutions, including:
- A new India Higher Education Leadership Academy and Higher Education Policy Forum to be done jointly with Penn State’s Center for Higher Education that will develop a new generation of leaders for India’s rapidly growing higher education capacity
- A range of research projects, including the second survey of Indians who have or are studying abroad, and whether they may be interested in returning to India to help fill the major shortage of new faculty members
- Expanding study abroad opportunities for American students through new programs, international service learning, internships, and dual degree opportunities.
As highlighted at last year’s U.S.-India Higher Education Summit in Washington, DC, more than 100,000 Indians study in the United States each year, but only 3,000 U.S. students study in India. The grant will launch new initiatives and partnerships to begin to close this gap.