Dame Asha Khemka, principal and chief executive of West Nottinghamshire College Group, is with the Deputy Prime Minister’s 40-strong trade delegation in India at the start of their three-day visit to the country to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the new Indian government’s focus on economic growth.
She is part of a delegation made up of major British businesses from the retail, aerospace and education sectors in joining Mr Clegg and Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, on the first high-level trade mission to India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected in May.
The visit – which began on Monday (25 August) and runs until Wednesday (27 August) – takes in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore and involves meetings with representatives of the Indian government and business leaders.
The delegation will also be signing deals and exploring new opportunities with their Indian counterparts.
Dame Asha is on the delegation in her joint capacity as a leading educationalist and chair of AoC (Association of Colleges) India – a partnership of 33 UK further education colleges aiming to help meet the sub-continent’s growing demand for skills.
She said: “I feel proud and honoured to join this important trade mission, having been part of the Prime Ministerial delegation in India in 2013, which did much to strengthen ties between our two countries and promote British business overseas.
“The world-class vocational education and training delivered by UK colleges means we are ideally-placed to work with the Indian Government to achieve its dynamic aspirations of creating 500 million skilled workers by 2022.
“This visit will enable us to develop close links with the newly-created Skills Development and Entrepreneurship Ministry under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and create mutually-beneficial partnerships with Government Ministers, education and skills organisations, and industry leaders while showcasing the experience and expertise that our education and skills system has to offer.”
There will be two announcements made during the visit.
Firstly, West Nottinghamshire College Group is working with the Cordia Group of Educational Institutes to establish a new construction college in Sanghol, Punjab (near Chandigarh).
Using its vast experience as one of the leading providers in the construction industry, West Nottinghamshire College Group will develop high-quality training programmes and specialist courses to meet the needs of India’s booming construction industry and much desired development of infrastructure. It will also train the tutors that will deliver the curriculum at the new college, which will be part of Lord Diljit Rana’s highly-successful Cordia Group.
Secondly, an official announcement will be made to open the Indian headquarters of West Nottinghamshire College Group’s recently-launched company, bksb India.
In the UK, West Nottinghamshire College Group’s subsidiary company, bksb, has forged a reputation as the market-leader in interactive on-line learning solutions to improve English, maths and ICT skills.
Recognising bksb’s global potential, the college group launched its sister company, bksb India, in 2013.
Its new offices – based in the exclusive Taj Hotel, Chandigarh – will allow the company to showcase its products to the Indian market as it strives to support thousands of people to develop their English skills in its first year of operation.
Dame Asha added: “Although the college’s main priority will always be delivering first-class education and training to communities in Nottinghamshire and surrounding areas, income from overseas operations will make us even stronger financially; providing opportunities to further invest in our much-valued local provision.
“Furthermore, ventures such as these will enable us to better promote the global dimension of skills and jobs amongst our own students, which has never been more important as skilled trades become increasingly in demand not just nationally but internationally.”
The visit was organised by UK Trade and Investment, the government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy.