Dame Asha Khemka

Patron of The Asian Apprenticeship Awards 2017

Dame Asha Khemka is the Principal/Chief Executive of West Nottinghamshire College Group. A multi-million pound business in its own right, it makes a difference to 32,000 young people and adults, has a turnover approaching £65m and is the largest college provider of apprenticeships in the UK delivering over 13,000 in all trade occupations each year. The College is also the sponsor of Vision Studio School (Nottinghamshire’s first studio school). Dame Asha has personally driven a £50m investment transforming the College’s estate a project which recently concluded with the opening of Mansfield’s first University Centre.

Whilst rooted in its local community, the College also has an international footprint through its subsidiary company bksb: a market leader in English, Maths and ICT assessment, operating in more than 20 countries worldwide including a centre in Chandigarh.

With over 30 years’ experience in further education and skills, Dame Asha is a prominent and respected figure within the sector sitting on numerous Boards including the Cabinet’s Education Honours Committee. She is also the Skills Lead for the Midlands Engine for Growth and Chair of the Skills Group.

Dame Asha is a high profile NRI ambassador. As the founding Chair of the former AoC India she spearheaded education developments between the UK and India, overseeing numerous partnerships and establishing alliances with key Indian stakeholders. In 2015 she was instrumental in securing funding for UK colleges to work with 12 Indian Polytechnics supporting the development of Community Colleges. She has accompanied several Ministerial delegations to India joining the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Ministers in recent missions.

Dame Asha’s story began in Sitamarhi, Bihar. Born and raised within a family with strong values and married at 15 she spent her first 20 years as a dedicated housewife and mother. Arriving in the UK at 25 with little knowledge of English and English culture, she devoted her early years to teaching her 3 children before becoming a mature student at a further education college. This ignited a passion for education and its power to transform lives that lasted a lifetime. Progressing from student to Chief Executive in just 15 years she became the first Indian born CEO of a college in the UK.

In 2008 Dame Asha founded the Inspire and Achieve Foundation, a charitable trust whose main objective is to raise the aspirations of working class young people. The charity raises between £60,000 and £100,000 every year in support of this cause.

Dame Asha’s contribution to education has been recognised through many accolades. Most notably, the OBE for services to education in 2009 and in January 2014 she became the first Indian born in living memory to be awarded the DBE. Also in 2014 Dame Asha was named inaugural recipient of the Dadabhai Naoroji Award and ‘Woman of the Year’ by the Prime Minister. In 2016, Dame Asha was awarded ‘Overall Contributition to Apprenticeships’ at The Asian Apprenticeship Awards.

dame asha khemka