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    Google Maps fails to plot the driving route from the new TQUK office in Sale, Manchester to the Shibuya area of Tokyo – simply pointing out ‘Sorry, we could not calculate driving directions’.

    The prospect of driving from Manchester to Tokyo to most would be absurd, but with the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative quickly becoming an ambitious reality in Asia, who knows – I might be jumping in my car to a meeting round the corner from the Shibuya Crossing. It would take a while mind, plenty of snacks.

    If everything comes to pass, it will be the greatest trade and economic development campaign of our generation, perhaps even since the invention of the first full-scale working railway steam locomotive in 1804 by Richard Trevithick

    What Trevithick did to the English economy can perhaps be compared to what Chinese President Xi Jinping is doing now for China.

    World leaders have come together to thrash out the details for the two main prongs of attack, comprising the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and the ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’, or simply, the belt and the road. I won’t pass comment on the Maritime route being called a road and the road being described as a belt, it will just add to the confusion when I attempt to address the conference in Chinese.

    Why is this of any interest to TQUK? In January this year we expanded our business to the Asian region with a brand new international hub now fully operational in Hong Kong.

    The potential market for vocational training across the Asian region is mind boggling and TQUK is primed to deliver vocational qualifications in manufacturing, building and construction, business administration, education and training and hospitality across the region.

    It is our intention to support the project where we can. Not only will the region require increased, trained man-power in these sectors but there’s an opportunity for workers to ascertain new skills and increased knowledge in order to face the vast new challenges they will need to complete this brilliant project.

    TQUK qualifications are built to the latest workplace requirements, no matter which sector, and our suite of construction qualifications for example is primed to help learners achieve and excel in the skills to be successful in industry.

    Unfortunately, much like the UK, China has found it increasingly difficult to attract young people to vocational routes post secondary education. ‘Vocational education and training (VET) is the Achilles’ heel of the restructuring of the Chinese economic model’ are the exact words I’ve read via the Mercator Institute for China Studies.

    The reform of the VET system in China is long overdue and only if China succeeds in establishing a system that can be adapted to the changing requirements of companies, will the dream of such projects like One Belt, One Road become reality.

    The project promises to deliver hundreds of thousands of jobs, providing those with the correct qualifications and apprenticeships almost guaranteed work. The ability to ply your trade on an initiative that promises to boost the local and global economy must be an attractive carrot?

    We have made great strides in the past 12 months, both nationally and internationally, but this initiative could do great things for the Asian region and TQUK. Our Hong Kong hub is in a great position to contribute to the development of this great project and our first International Conference in Hong Kong this week will be a great platform to discuss this initiative with our training providers.

    Over 60 TQUK approved training providers will be joining us along with officials from the Department of International Trade Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and we hope to provide as much information to everyone in order to support the development of vocational qualifications in the region.

    The conference will also serve as a great opportunity to update centres on our growth over the past year, our recent office move here in the UK, the process of getting approved and being one of the first End-Point Assessment Organisations to deliver end-point assessment. And we may have an announcement or two as regards our hub expansion to other countries around the world.

    Now, I just need to learn Chinese by the weekend and everything should fall right into place…

    Andrew Walker, Managing Director, TQUK

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