Venue: Ambar Hotel (formerly Guoman Charing Cross Hotel) The Strand, London, WC2N 5HX

Date:    20 January 2015

Registration link:

For further information, please contact Aravec Clarke,

Introduction to the UK-India English Partnerships Forum

The UK-India English Partnerships Forum was designed to enable UK stakeholders, from the public as well as the private sectors, to better understand the English language and skills landscape in India in order to identify what kind of;

a) academic, strategic and commercial opportunities might be available for both the UK and India English language education and skills sectors;
b) what type of English language education or skills research collaborations or institutional level links might be desired; and
c) to explore potential partnerships and collaborations.

This is the second event in the series and the focus will be on English Skills for Employability, an area of key strategic and commercial importance for both India and the UK. A senior delegation of 10 representatives from the public and private sectors will be attending the event led by Mr J.P. Rai, Director-General of the National Skills Development Agency. The Hon’ble Minister of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajiv Pratap Rudy will be in the UK attending the Education World Forum and will join the event from 16:00-17:30.

Why English Skills for Employability?

In 2008-09, the Government of India launched the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC), set up as part of the National Skill Development Policy (2009) to fulfil the growing need in India for skilled manpower across sectors, and to narrow the existing gap between the demand and supply of skills. Research conducted by the NSDC  indicates skills gaps both in functional, vocational and workplace skills as well as soft skills, with English featuring as an essential skill to complement core domain skills in over half of the 21 focus sectors such as IT and ITES, media, hospitality, beauty and wellness, retail, financial services and healthcare.

In September 2013, the National Skills Development Agency (NSDA) was constituted to provide the over-arching framework for different skills missions across India. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI)’s recommendations for the Planning Commission list the ‘vocationalisation’ of school education and ‘international collaboration’ as ‘recommended areas for policy focus’ both of which require English language skills.

The Government of India study, National Employability Report-Graduates 2013, conducted by Aspiring Minds, a company involved in assessing various aspects of education, training and employment, reveals that nearly half of Indian graduates are not fit to be hired. ‘The employability of graduates varies from 2.59 per cent in functional roles such as accounting, to 15.88 per cent in sales related roles and 21.37 per cent for roles in the business process outsourcing (BPO/ITeS) sector. A significant proportion of graduates, nearly 47 per cent, were found not employable in any sector, given their English language and cognitive skills,’ the survey findings show.

With 55% of India’s population below 30 years in age, as per the National Vocational Education Qualification Framework vision document (AICTE-NVEQF Vision Document, 2011), many policy making bodies view English as a key skill that can transform the employability of India’s youth. India’s Planning Commission’s Approach Paper to 12th Plan also states that, ‘Special emphasis on verbal and written communication skills, especially in English would go a long way in improving the employability of the large and growing mass of disempowered youth.’  The challenge is to identify where English can make the most impact.


10:00-11:00    Speaker and delegate arrival and refreshments

Specific meetings with the Indian delegation can be arranged on request

11:00-11:05    Opening and Welcome:

Rob Lynes, Country Director, British Council India

11:05-11:20    The Skills Challenge in India

J.P. Rai, Director-General, National Skills Development Agency

India’s new Ministry for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is currently reviewing the country’s National Skill Development Policy, the key priorities of which will be discussed in this session. The Nationals Skills Qualification Framework, international recognition of skills, participation by industry, and the cross cutting and pivotal role of language skills, including English, will be important aspects of the new policy.

11:20-11:25    The role of the British Council in supporting Cultural Relations

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, British Council

11:25-12:00    What the UK has to offer

In this session representatives from a cross section of UK organisations will outline their contribution to strengthening the UK-India relationship in the area of English language, education and skills.


  1. Patricia Hewitt, Chairperson, UK-India Business Council
  2. Mark Robson, Director English & Examinations, British Council
  3. Chris Dain, First Secretary, UK Trade and Investment, India
  4. Colin Bangay, Senior Education Advisor, DfID India

Moderated by Michael Connolly, Assistant Director, English Partnerships, British Council India

12:00 -13:00    English Skills for Employability Think Tank: A Report

British Council India partnered the National Skills Development Agency in September 2013 to convene the English Skills for Employability Think Tank comprising representatives from UK and Indian companies committed to working together to address the challenges of providing quality English language and skills development training to the large numbers of young people in India seeking employment.  In this session the panellists will share insights into some of the issues discussed during the Think Tank meetings, how they are working together to address those issues and what additional areas of support are required.  The panellists will also outline the objectives of a partner-funded case study research project which is underway in India.


  1. Sarah Kemp, Chief Executive Officer, Trinity College London, UK
  2. Paul Lewis, Director International Strategy, City & Guilds, UK
  3. Prof Mukti Mishra, President, Centurion University, India
  4. J.P. Rai, Director-General, National Skills Development Agency, India

Moderated by Chris Brandwood, Director English, British Council South Asia

13:00-14:00    Lunch and networking

14:00-14:45    The Role of English in Skills Development in South Asia: A Research Report‘

There are strong demands for English across society because of its perceived economic and social value.  There are also several policy initiatives and interventions that promote English language learning programmes as part of skills development. While skills development and English language teaching are in high demand, there are issues about how this demand can be met.’

If decisions are taken to invest in English language education as part of skills development, it should be recognised that providing quality English language teaching at scale requires a major investment over time. In order to deliver this English language training, a wealth of complicated issues needs to be explored which will be discussed in both this and the following session, for example:

  • Where can English courses ideally be placed in the skills curriculum? Should they be integrated into the programme or as an add-on?
  • In order for English language teaching to be meaningful to learners, it is best if it is specific to the sector of employment (or potential employment).
  • But if English language skills are too integrated into a skills development programme, they become difficult to assess and benchmark. So how can they be assessed, benchmarked and accredited?
  • If materials are not to be generic, does resource and expertise exist to produce materials of high quality that are specific in terms of language, context and sector? This calls for both English and sector expertise, both of which are not always readily available in any context.
  • What is the most appropriate pedagogical model for the delivery of these materials and programmes? Do face-to-face facilities exist? Can mobile technologies be effectively used? If so, how can we be sure to reach out to disadvantaged groups who don’t generally have access to such technology?
  • What language will be used for the delivery of the skills development and English curriculum? Research and experience suggests that local languages are needed for the delivery of the skills curriculum and that the focus of English language training in this context should be on English as a skill, not as the medium of instruction (Kamwangamalu, 2010). With this in mind, how will skills development materials be translated and localised?
  • Are there trained teachers available to deliver the courses required for a skills-related English curriculum? If not, is there a cadre of trainers who can train them? Is it possible to set up teacher education programmes and to produce suitably qualified teachers? If not, how long will it take before these programmes are in place?

Dr Elizabeth J. Erling, Lecturer in English Language Teaching, Open University, UK
In conversation with Dr Debanjan Chakrabarti, Head English Language Policy Research and Publications, English Partnerships, British Council India

The full report is available here: and hard copies will be provided for invitees.

14:45-16:30    Working in partnership: How can the UK and India collaborate to address the challenges?

Experts from both India and the UK will share short specific points on key issues relating to the following themes:

  1. Assessment
  2. Delivery mechanisms
  3. Quality assurance
  4. Technology
  5. Standards
  6. Funding mechanisms
  7. Pedagogy
  8. Products and services

This will be followed by group discussions and action capture facilitated by the same speakers.  Each group will share their key recommendations to the wider group and the Minister who will arrive at approximately 16:00.

  1. Simon Nelson, CEO FutureLearn, UK
  2. Anil Subramaniam, Deputy Secretary, DDU-GKY (Skills Division) Ministry of Rural Development
  3. Prafulla Pujara, Head of International Quality & Excellence, City & Guilds International
  4. Osama Manzar, CEO Digital Empowerment Foundation, India
  5. John Mountford, International Director, Association of Colleges, UK
  6. C M Thyagaraja, Executive Director, Karnataka Vocational Training & Skill Development Corporation Ltd, Govt of Karnataka
  7. Prof Barry O’Sullivan, Head of Assessment Research & Development, British Council
  8. Anju Talwar, CEO The Skills Academy, India
  9. Susan Jones, Academic Lead - English Language (Asia), Trinity College London

Moderated by Alison Barrett, Director English for Education Systems, British Council South Asia

16:30-16:45    Roadmap for skills and the English language in India

Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Hon’ble Minister of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship

16:45-17:00    Summarising recommendations and next steps

Chris Brandwood, Director English, British Council South Asia

17:10-17:15    Vote of thanks and close

Rob Lynes, Country Director, British Council India