S'pore-Rajasthan deal to set up tourism skills centre

The Centre of Excellence for Tourism Training will be set up in Udaipur, a popular destination nicknamed Venice of the East. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Rajasthan state government to set up a skills centre to train 480 students in the tourism and hospitality sector annually.

The Centre of Excellence for Tourism Training will be set up in Udaipur, a popular destination nicknamed Venice of the East.

Singapore's High Commissioner to India Lim Thuan Kuan and the Rajasthan government's director of technical education training, Mr Anil Kumar Anand, signed the memorandum of understanding in the state capital, Jaipur, yesterday.

The Straits Times understands the centre is expected to start in September next year with 36 teachers and will offer six courses ranging from culinary training to hospitality.

The centre would be housed in the government-run Industrial Training Institute (ITI) in Udaipur, further boosting Singapore's involvement in skills training in India.

This is Singapore's second joint collaboration on skills training in India. The first is the World Class Skills Centre in New Delhi in 2013.

The latest collaboration comes as the Indian government identified scaling up skills training as a priority to push economic growth.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set up a skills and entrepreneurship ministry since taking office. Last month, he launched an ambitious campaign to provide skills training for 400 million Indians by 2022. This includes setting up skills centres and giving loans to poor students to undergo technical training. Currently, only 2.3 per cent of the Indian workforce has formal skills training.

The plan to collaborate on a centre for tourism training got a boost when Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam visited Rajasthan in February this year.

Mr Shanmugam told The Straits Times at the time that the training centre would be an "iconic project". He said then: "We have agreed that the focus can be on hospitality management and training."

Under the agreement, the Rajasthan government will construct the facilities at the ITI, while ITE Education Services (ITEES), the private arm of Singapore's Institute of Technical Education, will provide consultancy services for developing infrastructure, courses and training the trainers.

Rajasthan, with a population of 73 million, is one of India's top tourist destinations.

It is known for its fortresses, palaces and desert safaris.

ITEES had conducted a "needs assessment" and found that there is demand for skilled manpower in the tourism and hospitality industry in Rajasthan, sources said.

Those in the hospitality industry said the state would benefit from the collaboration with Singapore, known internationally for its vocational training programmes.

"It is a very good development. If we want to compete with the world, we need to have world standards. And Singapore is known for this," said Mr Subhash Goyal, head of the Indian Association of Tour Operators.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2015, with the headline S'pore-Rajasthan deal to set up tourism skills centre. Subscribe