US firms eye India's U-15 population as future workforce

"With 35 per cent of India's population under the age of 15, we all must join efforts to ensure that this population becomes the global workforce of tomorrow," Ron Somers, president of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), said.

USIBC, the apex body of US companies doing business, has just concluded its Higher Education Mission to India that coincided with the US President Barack Obama's visit.
"Education and skills development in any society -- but especially in India -- are the primary means for social and economic upward mobility. India's leaders are now seizing the great challenge ahead.

"Working together, the US and India can make certain that we do not squander this potential. Like the United States, India places an extraordinary value on education," Somers said.

During the India mission, USIBC's delegation met with Secretary for Higher Education Vibha Puri Das as well as other officials from the Ministry of Human Resource Development to advocate for greater collaboration between US and Indian higher educational institutions.

Comprised of heads of leadership and senior representatives from some of US' top universities and educational service providers, including Arizona State University, Boston University, Duke University, Georgetown University, Pennsylvania State University, New York University, Rutgers University and Across World Education, the mission aimed to provide the road-map to further strengthen academic collaboration between the two countries.

USIBC aims for collaboration not only through the passage of the Foreign Education Providers Bill-which USIBC is eager to see pass-but through deep and meaningful partnerships.

Arizona State University Chief Research Officer, Sethuraman Panchanathan, said: "Being part of the Presidential Executive Mission provided a valuable platform to help understand the issues and opportunities as we consider potential partnerships and collaborations between US universities and institutions in India in the realm of higher education and innovation."

USIBC said it is eager to expand upon and create more collaborative programmes between US and Indian institutions, such as Pennsylvania State University's "two plus two" programme, whereby students spend two years at an Indian university before finishing their degree at Penn State.

Programmes like these, as well as student/faculty exchanges and research collaborations are already possible under the current regulatory regime and should be explored further, it said.

"In the spirit of President Obama's visit, there is an opportunity for the United States to foster and support India's mission of collaboration and discovery, and to export knowledge, resources, and research to enhance the capability of making learning and teaching resources accessible," president and CEO of AcrossWorld Education Stephan Thieringer said.

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