This project addresses the ‘a fairer future’ theme of the Commonwealth Summit with emphasis on promoting the interests of the 60% of the Commonwealth’s population who are under 25. It is aimed to improve the employment prospects of young people, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, by piloting and introducing new approaches to employer led skills development.
Improving Work Opportunities For Young People in the Commonwealth (I-WORK)
By promoting good practice, partnerships and mutual learning between Commonwealth member states at a policy and delivery level, we will drive improved opportunities for youth whilst raising the knowledge and understanding of the Commonwealth and strengthening relationships with the UK.
The project worked in four ODA countries, Ghana, India, Malaysia and South Africa, but will disseminate the lessons and practice innovation across the Commonwealth. It focuses on two Strands which both have its own priority at Policy and Institutional levels:-
1. APPRENTICESHIP STRAND
Under the Apprenticeship Strand, a Technical Assistance (TA) Project was identified and delivered based on results from the British Council’s Apprenticeship System Benchmarking Tool, the first apprenticeship benchmarking exercise in Malaysia. The TA Project has led to research, benchmark, and improved the policy and provision of apprenticeships in Malaysia. It was implemented through an action-research project to gather responses from companies in the manufacturing sector from August 2019 to January 2020. A National Apprenticeships Expert, an Advisory Group (consisting of national policymakers and relevant TVET agencies), and a TA Project Delivery Consultant worked together in sharing the outcomes of the project during the I-WORK National Workshop and Forum.
The tools were launched at the Improving Work Opportunities for Young People in the Commonwealth (I-WORK) National Forum 2020, organised by the British Council and funded by the UK Government, in support of the commitments made during CHOGM 2018. The forum was attended by policymakers, representatives from ministries, agencies, employers, funders/sponsors, and other influencers, with special guests YB Steven Sim Chee Keong, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia; Ts Dr Mohammad Naim Yaakub, Director-General Department of Polytechnic and Community College, Ministry of Education Malaysia; and Prof Datuk Ts Dr Wahid Razally, Vice-Chancellor, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia.
The creation of these tools followed a survey among 212 employers in the manufacturing sector to identify the cause of low employer engagement in apprenticeships.
- The Apprenticeships Employer Engagement Playbook serves as a tool for employers, practitioners, administrators, TVET training providers, researchers, and academicians to leverage apprenticeships. The playbook provides resources ranging from planning to implementation of apprenticeship programmes.
- The Malaysian Apprenticeship Employer Engagement Toolkit provides helpful steps and resources to start and register apprenticeship programmes, from exploring the apprenticeship model as a workforce strategy to recruiting new and highly skilled employees.
2. PARTNERSHIP STRAND
The I-WORK Partnership Strand aims to create guidance and pilot activities to develop skills training centres in each country that will act as hubs that champion responsive and inclusive skills provision in local contexts. The Partnerships Strand has enabled Leaders of TVET institutions from across four Commonwealth countries to meet facilitated by UK colleges to co-create plans to develop employer-led education. Practitioners have also been engaged and small seed grants have been offered to enable innovative pilots linking employers with educators.
Specifically in Malaysia, the following institutions had gone through six months of working in clusters in developing pilot projects that focus on employer-led education: -
- Politeknik Muadzam Shah in Pahang,
- Kolej Komuniti Gerik in Perak
- Institut Latihan Perindustrian Mersing in Johor
- Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Masjid Tanah in Melaka
- Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara Kuala Langat in Selangor
- Institut Kraf Negara in Selangor
I-WORK has given the British Council the opportunity to move further and to drive change, generated by TVET leaders, brilliant large-scale ideas, and plans for ambitious pilot projects and intervention.