From the right: Dato' Dr Hajah Wasitah Binti Haji Mohd Yusof, Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia; Prof Datuk Ts Dr Wahid Razally, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia; YB Steven Sim Chee Keong, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports; Sarah Deverall, British Council; Ts Dr Mohammad Naim Yaakub, Ministry of Education Malaysia 

Our objective

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 aims to improve the employment prospects of young people, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, by piloting and introducing new approaches to employer-led skills development. 

Our strategy and impact

By promoting good practice, partnerships and mutual learning between Commonwealth member states at a policy and delivery level, I-WORK (Improving Work Opportunities -  Relaying Knowledge) drives improved opportunities for young people whilst raising the knowledge and understanding of effective TVET delivery in the Commonwealth and strengthening relationships with the UK.

The project operates 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 their own priorities at Policy and Institutional levels.


Under the Apprenticeship Strand, a Technical Assistance (TA) Project was identified and delivered based on results from the British Council’s Apprenticeship Benchmarking Tool, the first apprenticeship benchmarking exercise in Malaysia. The TA Project has led to research, benchmark, and improve the policy and provision of apprenticeships in Malaysia. 

It was implemented through an action-research project, designed around responses gathered from companies in the manufacturing sector from August 2019 to January 2020. A National Apprenticeships Expert, Advisory Group (consisting of national policymakers and relevant TVET agencies), and a TA Project Delivery Consultant worked together in developing a toolkit and playbook which was then shared alongside the broader project outcomes during the I-WORK National Workshop and Forum.

The creation of these tools followed a survey of 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. 

The tools were shared at the 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 I-WORK Partnership Strand creates guidance and pilots 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. 

In Malaysia, the following institutions have spent six months working in clusters to develop pilot projects that focus on employer-led education: 

  • Community College Gerik, Perak 
  • Kolej Kemhairan Tinggi Mara (KKTM) Masjid Tanah 
  • The National Craft Institute 
  • Muadzam Shah Polytechnic 
  • Mersing Institute of Industrial Training 
  • Kuala Langat National Youth Skills Institute (IKBNKL) 

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 ambitious pilot projects and intervention.

'I would like to urge all TVET institutions to play effective roles in providing the right education and the right training for our youth to ensure they are adequate enough on facing Future Proof Jobs,' says Steven Sim, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports.