A Wairarapa model of "real training on real farms" has been outlined as a programme to aspire to at an international education conference in India.
Steve Hannam, Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre education support manager, was a guest speaker at the International Conference on Community Colleges in India held in Delhi earlier this month.
Mr Hannam, as part of an expert panel, gave the conference the lowdown on Taratahi's successful "real training on real farms" model that comprises the integration of work experience farms into education programmes and the agricultural industry.
The conference hosted 400 Indian college principals, Indian Government and state officials and 80 international expert guests from Canada, Britain, the US, Australia, and New Zealand.
Education New Zealand had invited to the conference a speaker each from the centre and from Polytechnic International New Zealand. Other speakers included politicians from the US and India.
The two-day conference focused on the need to make community colleges available to the majority of Indians who do not undertake formal education.
The Indian Government has committed to fund 90 per cent of community colleges in the future, with the remaining 10 per cent provided by the State.
"The Government is becoming more aware of the importance of making community colleges available to the rural population, currently a very small percentage of the rural community is able to undertake formal education through polytechnics and universities, and as a result there is huge untapped potential to train these communities and upskill the Indian farming industry," Mr Hannam said.
"The potential opportunity for both India and their training partners is huge. There are eight million people entering the Indian workforce in India each year, and only two million will successfully secure a job.
"The average age of the population is growing younger, and this untapped potential is India's future workforce for the next 20 years," he said.
The involvement of the Wairarapa training centre at the conference established contacts and networks that could yield reciprocal programmes and partnerships between the centre and organisations in India.
"New Zealand is well-known throughout the world for its successful agricultural industry, it would seem only natural that we play our part in upskilling the global agricultural workforce and lifting production."
The centre has already successfully provided a range of programmes for delegates from Columbia, Taiwan, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Mongolia, Vietnam, Russia, Italy, Indonesia and Australia.