I-WORK (Improving Work Opportunities – Relaying Knowledge) aims to enhance technical and vocational education and training to give people across the Commonwealth better opportunities to gain meaningful employment. The work is funded by UK Government, in support of the commitments made during Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018.
This project is delivered through two activity stands:
- Partnership strand
This strand connects training providers in five Commonwealth countries – the UK, Ghana, South Africa, India and Malaysia – in partnership clusters to develop innovative, inclusive and employer-led education approaches that equip students to take their place in the future job market.
- Apprenticeship strand
The apprentice strand supports national authorities in Ghana, South Africa, India and Malaysia to strengthen key areas of their apprenticeship systems through assessment against a global apprenticeship benchmarking tool designed specifically for the programme.
Following successful trialling against the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish apprenticeship systems and a project launch workshop in March 2019, benchmarking has now taken place in each I-WORK country through collaboration between the locally appointed National Apprenticeship Experts and advisory boards. Tailored support is now being put in place through technical assistance projects which address specific challenges and trial new approaches, which are supported by TVET colleges and employers.
Tying the two strands together is a series of National and International workshops taking place in the five I-WORK countries in the Spring of 2020 at which practitioners, college leaders and policy-makers will see the results of pilot projects from both strands to increase reach and impact of the projects, expand the use of good practice and inspire others to take new approaches to TVET provision.
Through determined effort, engagement with decision makers and policy leads and dynamic and innovative working, rapid progress is made in both strands. Partnerships clusters have already held their first meeting and are currently refining or in the early stages of delivering their pilot projects.
In the apprenticeship system strand, the pace of progress has been equally impressive with projects in each of the four countries now underway, ably supported by the I-WORK National and International experts, British Council Staff and technical delivery partners. A pivotal factor in this early success has been the degree of engagement from Skills ministries in national and regional governments of the participating countries, whose support has been critical in both raising the profile of I-WORK and prompting the engagement of the necessary actors.