The Confederation of Indian Industry organised a session on ‘Emerging Trends in Higher Education: India as a Knowledge Partner’ by Professor Nigel Thrift - Vice Chancellor, University of Warwick, UK and Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Director, Warwick Manufacturing Group, in Bangalore. The session heard calls for more collaboration between universities and industry.
Delivering his welcome address Mr KN Shenoy, Chairman, CII Institute of Quality & Vice Chairman, Volvo India Ltd set the tone by highlighting opportunities and challenges in higher education for India.
Mr Shenoy said: "A United Nations study concluded that India will have the largest workforce between the ages of 22 to 45 by the year 2020. For India to have the largest pool of young workforce, almost 1.5 times that of China, while other countries are declining, is an opportunity as well as a challenge. This opportunity can become a liability if the workforce is not educated and employable.
"It is now time for the Indian industry – as indeed India – to set sights on a new and higher trajectory of competitiveness and globalisation. One of our key challenges is to bridge the huge gap on required skilled manpower in the coming years while a huge amount of unemployment still exists. Skills development is critical to the progress and prosperity of the individual, community and the nation."
Increase in IITs, IIMs and many more educational institutions, focus on skill-based learning, updating of education along with changing times were cited as some of the important areas of focus in the opening remarks by Mr Shenoy. He also said that vocational education and skills development, including reforming the ITI framework, is now being accorded high priority by the government and other national and international bodies.
Agreeing with the sentiments, Professor BK Chandrashekar, Honourable Chairman, Karnataka Legislative Council and Former Education Minister, Government of Karnataka said: "Quality in manufacturing cannot be addressed without focus on education. The Knowledge Commission sighted that a developing country like India needs greater development of higher education and technical education. To enable equal growth not only do we need to provide basic education to backward classes but also ensure greater digitisation of the rural economy.
"Today, we do not have enough under-graduate degree colleges offering flexible combination of subjects. Our education system is still rigid and outdated."
In closing, offering a few suggestions, he added: "India needs more top class engineers to support creative product development, strong and world class graduate schools, increased autonomy to universities and colleges, improved governance, curriculum should be revised frequently to offer relevant education and at the same time provide higher education in newer areas such as micro electronics, which is an upcoming need."
Professor Nigel Thrift, Vice Chancellor, University of Warwick, UK, cited some of the emerging trends in higher education as student mobility, transnational education and greater employment engagement.
Lord SK Bhattacharyya, Director, Warwick Manufacturing Group said: "The education sector and industry sector needs to co-exist to fulfill each others needs and requirements. Although it may seem that both institutions chase different goals, without a doubt they are interdependent and only by mutual cooperation will create a better economy."
Mr Venu Srinivasan, Chairman and Managing Director, TVS Motor Company Ltd spoke about knowledge obsolescence and the importance of industry and academia partnerships.
In his closing remarks Mr N Reguraj, Chairman, CII Karnataka and Managing Director, NTTF Industries said that liberalisation in the education sector will go a long way to improving the scenario.
CII, along with the state government of Karnataka, has taken up 21 IITs in Karnataka for upgrading to Centre of Excellence, focusing on the clusters like Electronics, IT, Textile, Electrical, Manufacturing and Fabrication. CII aims at forecasting emerging skill requirements in the region and accordingly take action and suggest further strengthening in respect of various courses, presently being run as required locally, add new trades/units.
CII has over the last ten years put into place eight centres of excellence across the length and breadth of the country to meet the developmental needs of the industry on subjects of competitiveness and sustainability. Each of these centres have a specific area of thrust and train close to 20,000 people each year.
Notes to editors:
• WMG, an academic group of the University of Warwick, is a provider of innovative solutions to industry, supporting some of the most advanced research, development and training projects in the world.
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