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Edition 570, 8 September 2014

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In Focus

Monday, September 8 2014

Good Morning Everyone

I am writing this In Focus article on the way home from India where I have had the pleasure and privilege of being part of the Prime Minister’s CEO delegation to Mumbai and Delhi representing all members of ACPET. The Prime Minister and Minister for Trade were both part of the travelling party. There were 30 business leaders from major mining companies, financial institutions, logistics firms, universities and TDA and ACPET representing the skills sector.

The purpose of the visit was to reinvigorate the trading relations between the two countries.  The positive vibe in India was palpable. There is a great hope that India under new Prime Minister, Narendra  Modi, will quickly start to realise its enormous economic potential.

What does it mean for ACPET members? I heard on a number of occasions about Prime Minister Modi’s passion for skills development and how important he sees it in providing employment opportunities for the Indian population. A considerable challenge for the promotion of the skills agenda in India is the lack of understanding and credibility of VET skills compared with higher education. There seems to be little question about the role of higher education.

I made a presentation at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Global Skills Forum and shared some of the experiences I am aware of where Australia has tried to promote the skills agenda, the successes, the failures and the learnings. The big message in the Indian context is that the value proposition has to be there for both students and employers. The employers have to see the value in skilled staff and the students have to see the value in the form of increased wages. Students in India will pay for training but only if there is a clear link to employment outcomes with wages that enable them to recoup their investment in a reasonable time.

I also had a meeting with the Association of Skills Training Providers (ASTP). They are the ACPET counterpart in India. They are a very new organisation and keen for our advice as they get started and establish their operating principles and code of ethics. I met with their President, Sushil  Ramola, and Chief Operating Officer, Rajib Majumdar and six of their members.

During the discussions the members of ASTP also suggest some potential partnership opportunities. These will be revealed in the coming months once they have been further developed.

At a number of functions I discussed the development of skills with some of the key industry leaders. As well as the value proposition we discussed the potential for Australian providers to help major industrial organisations to develop programs using the Corporate Social Responsibility funds on skills development programs.

I was approached to provide assistance to deliver training in two specific industry areas. I will provide more details through the Members Only section of the website. I still need to obtain a few more specifics from one of the Consul Generals.

There is a strong push to continue to develop the India Australia relationship. The upcoming  ACPET delegation starting on 9 November. Part of the delegation will be attendance at the Global Skills Forum in Mumbai. On the Agenda there will be an ACPET /TDA session focussed around Community

Colleges and the sharing of best practise business models that have worked in India. I get the feeling the Australian Government will be keen to make this a significant event in our bi-lateral skills development relationship. The PM also announced that Andrew Robb will lead another delegation to India in January.

It was an enormously gratifying event to be part of and I believe India will be an exciting market in the near future --- it will always require patience and an understanding of the local culture.

At Home

It has been a week of significant announcements and media coverage. We had the report of Professor Peter Noonan about the reduced level of funding for the VET sector across Australia. ACPET and TDA have released a joint press release agreeing with most of the findings and calling for action from the Government.

The more disturbing media is in the Weekend Australian where there is an attack on private providers once again. I agree there are some training courses where I have to question the realistic chance of getting unskilled people to Certificate III in six weeks. However, the articles seem to assume that attending a Public Provider for six months for up to 12 hours a week is better than an intensive training programme over ten weeks. The arguments put forward are in my mind naive. The Board will consider how it should respond.

Have a great week.

Larry Davies


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