Country profiles

Our current call is open to applications from UK organisations to partner with selected organisations in Nigeria, Pakistan and South Africa. 

The British Council will assess applications and match successful UK and overseas organisations. Project development grants of approximately £2000 will be available for successful UK organisations to visit their partner organisation and develop their project idea.  



Nigeria  is Africa’s largest economy and most populous country with over 180 million citizens. It is a political federation that consists of 36 autonomous states, and a multi-ethnic and culturally diverse society. Nigeria has abundant natural resources, cheap labour, and a democratically elected government. The new administration, sworn in in 2015, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, identifies the following main policy priorities: fighting corruption; increasing security; tackling unemployment; diversifying the economy; enhancing climate resilience; and boosting the living standards of Nigerians.

The sharp decline in the global price of oil which is the traditional source of 90 percent of Nigeria’s export revenues, and the artificial capital controls imposed by the Government of Nigeria (GON) have been perceived as contributing to Nigeria’s economic difficulties. This means that Nigeria’s current economic growth depends on the non-oil sector, particularly construction, telecommunications, wholesale/retail trade, hotel and restaurant services, manufacturing and agriculture.

With an economy in a recession in the face of decreasing oil prices, tackling youth unemployment is of prime importance. Twenty-five percent of the labour force is either unemployed or underemployed, casting a gloomy prognosis on the country’s economic future. The depth of Nigeria’s unemployment crisis is particularly evident amongst young people, with two in five youths between the ages of 15 and 35 affected. The Nigerian government has embarked on a job creation initiative in collaboration with private and public sector stakeholders. The aim of this initiative is to develop a national skills policy that addresses the skills and capability challenges across all sectors in Nigeria.

Nigeria has skills challenges that urgently need to be addressed through the National Skills Policy, with a special focus on low-and middle-income groups. Some of the challenges have been attributed to: use of an outdated curriculum which does not meet present employment needs; poor teacher training and failings in the education system; as well as a lack of productive, skilled positions for graduates in corporate organisations. Employers report that those leaving education, including graduates, have unrealistic expectations, limited soft skills and irrelevant qualifications 

In a bid to resolve these issues, in March 2016, the Vice President’s office launched the Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan for Job Creation and Youth Employment. This framework is based on a partnership model which supports private and public sector collaboration to develop a National Skills Policy that addresses the skills and capability challenges across all sectors in Nigeria. 

International Skills Partnerships offer opportunities for Nigerian and UK stakeholders to agree, design, develop and deliver interventions to address some of the identified issues or gaps identified in the skills sector.

Read here the profile of the organisation from Nigeria.


Pakistan  is a rapidly developing country and its economy is South Asia's second largest, representing about 15 percent of regional GDP. Goldman Sachs expects Pakistan to become the world’s 18th largest economy by 2050 with a GDP of US$ 3.33 trillion. 

The current government is focusing on investing in both the energy sector and skilled training programs, however, the lack of skilled training programs is holding Pakistan back from rapid growth. 

The public-private partnership initiatives of the government to provide skilled training opportunities to the people have huge potential to increase the percentage of skilled workers, guaranteeing sustainable growth in future.

Pakistan’s geo-political location, with two strong economies on both sides (India & China) brings the world’s focus on this region and a vast amount of opportunities for this country.

However some challenges still lay ahead for the country, such as:

  • A lack of stability in the political system
  • The  influence of armed forces in Pakistani politics
  • A weak governance system
  • Opportunities for reform in the infrastructure and energy sector
  • Religious militants - a constant threat to economic growth and democracy

Pakistan’s strategic plan, ‘Vision 2020’, offers opportunities for double digit GDP growth and the promotion of the country as a strong hub for future economic growth in the SE Asia region.

However, Pakistan’s economy has grown only 2.8% in the last five years and economic growth in terms of job creation for young graduates has been severely lacking. This is due to the unique socio-political situation in Pakistan. 

One of the solutions to this issue is a specific emphasis on developing the entrepreneurial capacity of young people in Pakistan, in order to create both social and economic uplift in the region. International Skills Partnerships provide an exciting opportunity for the skills sector to take the initiative with the help of valued stakeholders (both local and international) to achieve this objective.            

 Read here the profile of the organisation from Pakistan.


South Africa

The Republic of South Africa aspires to a leadership role across Sub-Saharan Africa and has been elevated to the BRICS group of emerging economies.

It has a population of over 50 million and is one of the world’s youngest democracies, established in 1994. Since then, the country has held free and fair elections every five years.

The country comprises nine provinces and has 11 official languages.  It has been labelled the “rainbow nation” – and its diversity presents both opportunities and challenges; which in some respects it shares with the UK. It has official affirmative action policies in place, which have seen a rise in the emerging black middle class. This has been accompanied by the demand for leadership and entrepreneurial skills at both individual and institutional levels.

South Africa is the economic powerhouse of Sub-Saharan Africa with a mixed economy in which mining and tourism feature significantly. 

It has a very high unemployment rate, with a major challenge to match skills training to employer requirements.  In 2015 the unemployment rate was 26.4% and 55% of this was attributable to youth unemployment. 

With an ever-growing demand for developing skills in South Africa, working internationally can provide opportunities for organisations through fostering innovation, building partnerships and identifying areas for growth.

South Africa has 23 public universities, 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and a significant number of private higher education institutions offering a wide range of programmes and courses. In 2015 a total of 710 535 learners enrolled in TVET colleges across South Africa.

Find below the profiles of the organisations from South Africa: