Education and skills sector in India

Wide range of opportunities for UK education providers as India seeks to address huge challenges in the sector.

Market overview

Education, at all levels, is India’s biggest economic and social challenge. The Higher education system has emerged as one of the largest in the world in terms of number of institutions as well as student enrolment. However the education system is bogged down by the fundamental challenges of access, equity and quality. The current resources in the country are unable to meet the challenges and in turn this throws up a wide range of opportunities for UK education providers.

The Indian Government is seeking a huge expansion of both capacity and quality at all levels of the education system. Headline targets include creating 40 million new university places by 2020, and 11,000 new secondary schools.

On the skills side, against a number of 12.8 million workers that annually enter the Indian workforce, the existing capacity of skills development programme in India is 3 million per annum. The Prime Minister has set a target of skilling 500 million by 2022, whereas at present only 2% of the workforce has formal skill training. This again throws up opportunities for UK skills providers to work with their Indian counterparts to help India scale-up to meet its skills objective.

Relevant Indian organisations

National Skills Development Corporation

The National Skill Development Corporation India (NSDC) is a one of its kind, Public Private Partnership in India. It aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality, for-profit vocational institutions. It provides viability gap funding to build scalable, for-profit vocational training initiatives. Its mandate is also to enable support systems such as quality assurance, information systems and train the trainer academies either directly or through partnerships.

NSDC has got the mandate to constitute Sector Skill Councils (SSCs) in India. The role of the SSCs is given on the NSDC website. So far SSC have been established/approved for various Sectors including Auto, Security, Energy, Healthcare, Retail, Media & Entertainment and IT/ITes. Discussions are underway for a SSC in Construction sector.

National Skills Development Agency

National Skill Development Agency (subsumes the Office of Adviser to the PM – National Council on Skill Development)

The Office of Adviser to the PM has now been subsumed under the National Skill Development Agency (NSDA). NSDA is an autonomous body which will coordinate and harmonize the skill development efforts of the Government and the private sector to achieve the skilling targets of the 12th Plan and beyond. NSDA will be the nodal agency for State Skills Development Missions.

UK India Education and Research Initiative

The UK India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) started in April 2006 with the aim of enhancing educational links between India and the UK. In recognition of the substantial achievements and building on the success of this initiative, the programme has been extended for 5 years from 2011 to 2016.

Focus areas for funding under UKIERI II are:

  • Leadership Development

  • Student mobility

  • Innovation partnerships and

  • Skills development

Key opportunities

Over 65% of India’s working population is in the age group of 15-30 years. The Indian Higher Education System is enormous and highly diverse. There are 21,107 Institutions in the system with over 11.6 million students (this figure is expected to rise to 34 million by2020).

The share of unaided private higher education institutions in the country has grown from 42.6% in 2001 to 63.9% in 2012. Despite this, access to the higher education system is currently restricted to a small portion of the society. The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in India was 16% in 2010. The Government of India is keen to increase this to 30% by 2020.

In addition to this, the quality of higher education is adversely affected by shortage of faculty and poor infrastructure. This existing gap in provision of education offers the following opportunities for education providers from the UK:

  • Collaboration with Indian Institutes –These collaborations could be for joint delivery of courses, joint research, curriculum development and student/staff exchange. A large number of joint delivery of courses involves validation of the Indian qualification and transfer of credit to the UK for students wishing to pursue a UK qualification in the UK. This helps the UK University keep control over the quality of delivery of qualification. Indian regulations currently do not allow overseas degree programmes to be delivered in India.

  • Establishing offshore campus – The Indian Government has recently announced that top 400 universities of the world as per the rankings published by Times Higher Education, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) or the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) by Shanghai Jiao Tong University will be allowed to set up campuses in India. The proposed University Grants Commission rules once notified will provide greater clarity on the approval and compliance requirements

  • Faculty Development – With a number of private sector Universities coming up, India is facing an acute shortage of trained faculty. Most of the new Universities have faculty within the age group of 28-30 years. There is an opportunity for UK Universities to consider providing mentoring services for faculty.

Technical Skills and Vocational education

Vocational training in India is offered through public (government owned) Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) as well as private (owned by private sector) Industrial Training Centres (ITCs). As per the Indian Constitution, vocational training is a concurrent subject of both Central and the State Governments.

The current capacity of skill development programmes is 3.1 million and yet India has set a target of skilling 500 million by 2022.

Currently, 90% of the jobs in India are skill-based, a sharp contradiction to the current figure of only 6% trained workforce in India. Government is looking to partner with private players for curriculum development, apprenticeships and entrepreneurship programmes, to develop a joint approach towards Skills for Employability and to explore the possibility of developing joint programmes for skills development.

There is an opportunity for UK skills/vocational education providers to provide:

  • Sector specific skill content and assessment standards in a wide range of sectors including retail, paramedical, hospitality, travel and tourism

  • ‘Train the Trainer’ programmes to equip the training providers will relevant skills and understanding.

Latest export opportunities in the Education & Training sector

Latest export opportunities in India

Getting into the market

  • Partnering with local private sector Universities for joint delivery of programmes, R&D linkages, student and faculty development programmes

  • Working with and supporting Indian Sector Skills Council in delivering their remit of developing occupational standards, curriculum for various skill sets, assessment and accreditation

  • Working jointly with Indian VE providers to develop sector specific curriculum.

  • Working with UKTI on market research and introduction to key decision makers in India

  • Working with UKTI on developing an India strategy and the market entry strategy

More about doing business in India


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.

  • Sunita Kapoor, British High Commission New Delhi. Tel: +91 (0)11 24192575 or email: [email protected]

  • Tanvi Jajodia, British High Commission New Delhi. Tel: +91 (0)11 24192367 or email: [email protected]

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events in Education & Training sector

Other events:

FICCI Higher Education Summit

13-14 November 2013

Contact: Sunita Kapoor

Email: [email protected]

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Education & Training
Countries: India
Export Action Plan