Nepali Times
"Vocational training is the way to go"

Geoff Pines, Principal of Greenwich Community College in the UK, was in Kathmandu to speak about public-private partnership in vocational education organised by the British Council. He talked to Nepali Times about the importance of vocational education in Nepal.

Nepali Times: Why vocational training?
Geoff Pine: I've been involved in education all my life. But unlike traditional schools, at a vocational school an individual's talent surfaces easily. The issue here in Nepal, like in the UK, is that vocational education is seen as a poor relative of academic studies, which is a wrong concept. Every country needs business and in order to have well-rounded employees, vocational education is an area of importance and should be focused on very seriously.

Over 200,000 Nepalis go abroad to work every year. How important is job-oriented education in a country like this?
Vocational skills are beneficial for any individual. They play an important role in the long-term as they help the industries, which in turn help in the economic development of the country. Vocational education is also important because it has a positive effect on business and attracts foreign investment. If vocational education is emphasised, it will yield high quality employees who will be recognised not just in the country but beyond the borders.

Is there a role for the private sector to be involved?
The private sector plays a very significant role as it provides and acts like the knowledge unit. This concept is just coming up in the UK too and is quite interesting because the private sector helps regulate the kind of students we put out there. Vocational education is demand-led and students are trained as per the needs of the employer and businesses. At Greenwich Community College there is no vocational education course that's doesn't guarantee a job on completion. There is no point teaching a course which is of no use to businesses, that would be just a waste of time and money. The relationship between private sector and vocational education is a mutually beneficial one. In Nepal, the FNCCI has a huge role to play. At the symposium here, the British Council started a dialogue which is going to help the industries as well as the economy in the future.

Can you give us an example of a model partnership?
There was a time when the leisure industry was doing very well but it was depressing because none of our students were getting jobs. The employers said our students had no skill that they wanted. So, we joined hands with the London Leisure College and GL Limited and designed the course as per the need of the industry. It was mutually beneficial because they were getting better workers and our students where getting better jobs. Similarly, in Thailand's Chang Mai region, the local Thai tour operators and hotel staff were not getting jobs beyond a certain level. So GCC collaborated with local tour operators and hotels to design a course that would help qualified Thai in high managerial post as well. As a result GCC has an objective that the teachers have to have had some relevant experience in the industry in the last 12 years.

Which are the most feasible professions for Nepal?
Construction, which doesn't necessarily mean learn from other countries but more importantly learn from how it functions here. Then it would have to be hospitality and health sector. Its culture and rich heritage makes it easy for Nepal to sustain tourism for a long time.

ECONOMIC CLASS - FROM ISSUE #412 (08 AUG 2008 - 14 AUG 2008)

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)