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  • Writer's pictureAayushi Sharma

Carving a pathway to skilled workforce and deeper partnerships

Cooperation of labour is, and increasingly will be, one of the pivotal areas of engagement between Australia and India.

A file picture of Indians in Australia.

As the bilateral ties between Australia and India reach an unprecedented high in the last few years, it becomes all the more important for both the countries to acknowledge the need to maintain this momentum. One way to do this is to keep exploring new ways to innovate and collaborate together keeping in mind the national interests of the countries and align it with the larger shared goal of creating a strong Indo-Pacific with a stable and peaceful order.

Much has already been said about the relationship between Australia and India and how it has transcended the mere considerations of strategic bilateral relations and delved deeper into the core of cultural and historical traditions that bind communities on each side. While engaging with the shared historical ties and cultural values is important to build deeper partnerships, it is also important to keep tabs on the opportunities to drive these partnerships forward. The Australia-India Future Skills Initiative does exactly that.

Education, innovation and research

Australia and India are aware of the mutual benefit that can accrue out of their partnership on building technological advances as the world moves towards a plethora of crucial technology for defence and strategic purposes as well. There are different aspects regarding partnerships on innovation in technology and skills, these include creating a framework for securing the supply chains of the resources that are central to the development of these technologies; building a body of research on the potential uses of new and emerging technologies and creating a strategy on amplifying the usage for national interest and the benefit of the partnership. Additionally, building capacity in terms of this research, by providing the necessary resources to the people who are engaging actively in assessment and innovation. The idea is to also bridge the gap between research, academia and industry.

While numerous frameworks are in place between India and Australia to establish the strategic defence and technology cooperation, it is the more ground level cooperation that needs momentum. Both countries recognise this dynamic and are building avenues for deeper engagement with the people who are contributing immensely to the technology sector. The cooperation entails working collectively towards enhancing skills making it a stronger tool for skill development and training at the grassroots.

Australia-India Future Skills Initiative

As a part of an update to the existing Indian Economic Strategy of the Australian Government, the Minister of Trade Tourism and Investment, Dan Tehan launched a two part initiative which included: The Australia -India Future Skills Initiative and the Australia-India Innovation Network.

What is particularly striking about the updates is that they provide a proactive role to be played by the Australian government towards engaging with India on two major aspects - education and technology sector.

The Australia India Future Skills Initiative, works primarily on education. The aim of the initiative is to develop an avenue for cooperation towards building skills and capacity in vocational training by using the digital infrastructure to connect Australia’s vocational education, training and skills providers to the Indian workforce, businesses, students and industry. The initiative seeks to upskill the workforce in India to be able to provide a strong knowledge infrastructure through Australian training resources. The Australia-India Innovation Network is another example of Australia’s interest in building ties with India’s technology innovation market and investors.

It was only earlier this year that this initiative was brought to the table through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) to develop a working framework for the Technical Vocational Education and Training Programmes. The framework identifies potential areas of collaboration towards skills training and these include the healthcare sector, mining, cyber security, renewable energy, critical resources supply chains and water management. The skills training would be provided by active collaboration with the skill providers through relevant seminars, webinars, government to government cooperation on organising events and most importantly, tie ups between the universities on both sides to develop opportunities on holding workshops for students and young professionals for upskilling. The fact that certain Australian universities are also working towards the possibilities of establishing campuses or branches in India is a very significant aid to this initiative as well.

Australia provides the resources, India provides the workforce. This has been the major driving point in most of the technology and skill development initiatives of India and Australia together. India’s young workforce is a huge asset to the country and investment in this asset by Australia goes on to show that countries are building trust between each other to become stronger partners in innovation, technology and skill training. Australia would also eventually benefit from upskilling India’s workforce by creating opportunities for collaboration between businesses and industries on both sides.

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