BERN: With the global demand for skilled workers growing rapidly, Switzerland is keen on expanding its ties with India in skill training and education initiatives by opening at least four more centres in the country.

Though a beginning has already been made in this direction with a Vocational Educational Training centre in Bangalore under the Swiss VET Initiative in India (SVTII), the agencies involved are keen on firming up and broadbasing the collaboration, possibly through a memorandum of agreement with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.

“It is important that the government start sharing. This will help strengthen and expand the project to areas other than the traditional segments like mechanical and electrical works to food processing, hospitality industry and factory management,” said Franz Probst, founder and chairman of SkillSonics, which has a skill training facility in Bangalore.

“To start with, there could be at least four centres in four regions of India,” said Probst during a presentation for a visiting team of Indian officials, planners and mediapersons at the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) here.

“We look forward to discuss with Minister ( Rajiv Pratap) Rudy. A working group could be going to India to explore the potential and strengthen the partnership,” he said.

“An agreement between the two governments will make the initiative stronger as far as knowhow sharing, certification and identifying and implementing lead projects. The scheme could then be rolled out to both private and public sectors,” he said.

The SVITII is modelled on the Swiss system of vocational education and training methodology of imparting skill training to students at a young age with the support of the industry, including major players like elevator-maker Schindler.

Schindler, which has vocational education programmes in its plants, train about 300 apprentices at its headquarters in Ebikon and other branches.

According to Probst, a key feature of the scheme is that it adapts its programmes, courseware and delivery to suit the needs of industries in India and other parts of the world, factoring in local education and training system as well as socio-economic conditions.

Apart from SFIVET, the initiative is supported by agencies like State Secretariat for Education and Research (SERI) and the industry bodies.

Its Indian partners include National Skill Development Corporation and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“The need for skill workers is growing in world over, especially in a country like India. Switzerland has a successful model and we are ready to strengthen our partnership with India in this vital area,” said Mauro Moruzzi, Ambassador, SERI.

Apart from VET, there is also a “huge potential” in collaboration with India in exchange of higher science and technology education and research, said Moruzzi.

He, however, said things could still improve from Indian side if there is a direct funding method to support aspirants coming for higher scientific studies in Switzerland in place of the existing system of clearing it through ministries.

“(Now), there is a little handicap. Now it is done through various ministries. Of course, it is a policy decision on the part of India,” he added.