As part of the EU-funded VET Toolbox project, the British Council in conjunction with the Pakistan National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC), recently produced a Handbook designed to support the implementation of a major new law, the Apprenticeship Act 2018. The Act is aimed at strengthening apprenticeships within the country’s skills system in order to enhance training and improve employability. The Pakistan Federal Minister of Education, Shafqat Mahmood, together with the book’s authors and senior leaders of the British Council, formally launched the Handbook in Islamabad on 8 January 2019. The launch was attended by more than 250 stakeholders, including employers, industrialists, chambers of commerce and training providers, as well as donor organisations including the European Union.
This initiative in Pakistan coheres with one of the central aims of the VET Toolbox project: the building of private sector engagement in vocational education and training. A key objective of the Handbook is to engage more employers with regards to the Apprenticeship Act and involve them in designing and implementing the related apprenticeship schemes. The Handbook highlights the opportunities provided by apprenticeships and acts as a practical guide for employers on what an apprenticeship is and how to implement it in their organisations. It is also the primary resource in the capacity building of Pakistani TVET officials for the effective implementation of the apprenticeship laws, helping them increase industry and institute linkages.
In order to provide support to the training providers and employers to better understand the Act and the Handbook, the launch in Islamabad was followed by a series of workshops and seminars, which were attended by around 250 participants in eight different cities across Pakistan including Islamabad, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Multan, Sialkot, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi.
Participants described the experience as ‘transformational’ and Simon Perryman, a UK-based consultant who co-delivered the training, commented:
“Everyone – from employers to apprentices to training institutes and education providers - benefits from embracing the full potential of apprenticeships, not least business itself. This is a smart way of working and will work towards creating a better business environment in Pakistan.”
The Pakistani government authorities now plan to utilise the Handbook to develop a comprehensive training and orientation programme for both government and private stakeholders.
The project to develop the Handbook and build the capacity of key stakeholders has been critical in facilitating a better understanding of the importance of apprenticeships and skills for employability in Pakistan. In so doing it aligns with the aims of both the VET Toolbox and the British Council in Pakistan to enhance skills development in Pakistan and support national reform in TVET.