Tell us about the partnerships George Brown has in India and the skill-development opportunities it is exploring in India.Of the 22,000 full-time students at George Brown College, about 10% are international students from about 50 countries.
We are engaging with a variety of countries, India among them, by provisioning our programmes and credentials to international students, faculty, institutions and the industry. In the past four years since we actively engaged with India, we have initiated two partnerships with Chitkara University with programmes in information technology, hospitality and culinary arts, and also with Institute of Apparel Management, for fashion and merchandising. We are now actively ramping-up our India presence in these areas as well as in business and early childhood learning.
In the next five years, we will have a greater engagement across the southern and western regions of India with an offering of between 15 and 25 programmes with flexibility in delivery models that would suit students’ requirements, with a clear focus on getting them ready for the workplace. Our multilateral engagement model has us involved in student exchange, faculty exchange, joint curriculum development, joint applied research, international student exchanges, staging conferences, joint publication of papers and executive in residence programmes with our academic and industry partners.
What are the latest skill development programmes that the college has introduced?
George Brown understands employment and serves many sectors. It has developed new programmes in food product development, chocolatier skills, artisan baking skills, chef skills, cheese making skills, advanced pastry skills, wine sommelier skills, game programming, textile design, human resources, early childhood services and more.
And there are a variety of programmes depending on students’ circumstances and industry needs, including certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas, applied degrees and PG certificates and study programmes with a duration ranging between one and four years. We have the flexibility to design new programmes to meet the needs of the emerging sectors.
With an increasingly skilled global workforce, what role will colleges/universities play in future?
The college education system helps individuals discover their talent and aptitudes and coaches them to flourish. With the emphasis on practical skills and competencies, the innovation abilities of the individual get harnessed. Every society needs a blend of thinkers, doers and those in-between, who have both capabilities. And that’s where the university method comes into play. The society needs a balance of different credential and learning opportunities. A society that values degrees only will ultimately end up with skilled labour shortages. A close relationship must exist between government and the industry sectors to ensure that different labour and skill demands are being met. Equally, universities play an important role in the building of research and innovation capacity.
Can job-skills actually be taught or is it an acquired thing?
Skills can be acquired on the job. At George Brown, our overarching responsibility is to understand employment and to ensure that we get our students ready for it.