Punjab government allotted 1900 sq Mtr. to the Australian Vocational Training & Employment Group (AVTEG) to establish a “Multi-Skill Development Centre”

A company launched by a former international student says it has established a base camp for Australia’s assault on India’s extraordinarily promising offshore vocational education and training market.

The Punjab government has given the Australian Vocational Training and Employment Group a 1900sq m site to establish a “multi-skill development centre” in the regional city of Hoshiarpur. The deal, to be formalized next month, comes after AVTEG sealed a partnership to set up a telecom training centre in New Delhi.

The news coincides with India’s commitment of $2.4 billion to train 10 million young people across the next four years — the latest installment in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ­ambitious “Skill India” campaign, which aims to transform India from an exporter of cheap labour to a source of high-end skills by training more than 400 million people in eight years.

Last December a report for Austrade predicted that Australia could be training up to 110 million young Indians by 2025. The 2011 Knight report urged Australia’s VET providers to concentrate on exporting their services, particularly to the emerging middle classes of Asia-Pacific ­giants, rather than relying on bringing students here.

AVTEG managing director Parampreet Singh, who started the company after completing a masters degree in Melbourne, said the Hoshiarpur deal gave his company use of the site for 10 years, rent free, under a revenue sharing deal with the Punjab government. From Novem­ber it plans to start training in building, ­automotive and energy using local instructors prepared by Australian “master trainers”.

“Australia has always wanted some sort of infrastructure presence in the country and now we’ve got that,” he said.

Mr Singh said his consultancy had contracts with six state governments and approval to deliver three national government training schemes. It has five state managers and links with about 70 training partners across the country. But progress to date has been slower than expected, with AVTEG co-ordinating the training of just 6000 Indians by March this year — well under expectations of between 12,000 and 15,000 students.

Mr Singh said rapid regulatory changes had made it difficult to operate, but this was understandable in a country trying to get its VET policies up to speed. Other operators could learn from his mistakes, he said. “We’ve burnt ourselves, but first movers always burn themselves. If we haven’t built the bridge, we’ve at least drawn a map.”

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