Becoming an International Skills Partner

International Skills Partnerships are the new, innovative way of addressing skills and employability challenges.  

They bring together organisations from the UK and overseas with similar challenges and priorities to share knowledge and devise new approaches to skills development.

Who can apply?

International Skills Partnerships are open to: 

  • further education institutions
  • training providers
  • sector skills organisations
  • employers
  • awarding organisations
  • skills agencies
  • quality assurance agencies 
  • government ministries
  • universities.

Should you have any queries about eligibility please email us at

What are the benefits?

International Skills Partnerships enable organisations to:

  • learn from the experience of international partners facing similar challenges
  • devise new approaches to skills development that can motivate and benefit their learners and staff
  • enrich their organisational culture
  • raise their profile in the UK and overseas
  • create new international business opportunities
  • inform the development of national skills approaches with the potential to impact the skills and employability of millions of people.

What funding is available?

Successful applicants receive a project development grant of approximatley £2,000 to cover travel costs to visit their prospective partner. 

A further amount of up to £13,000 will contribute to the delivery of each successful project proposal. The grant is paid in three instalments throughout the course of the 12-month partnership.

What support is provided?

The British Council is on the ground in more than 100 countries across six continents.  This gives us unrivalled local intelligence and understanding of the issues faced in different parts of the world.   

We work at a strategic level to advise organisations on cost-effective ways of addressing their skills development and employability challenges. We then bring together partners with the right experience to deliver the programme.

We offer comprehensive guidance and support to our partnerships at every stage of the process, working with them to ensure that their project delivers maximum benefit for the organisations and countries involved.

In the last six years we have delivered over 70 international skills partnerships in more than 30 countries.

Application process

Our application process requires UK organisations to select priority sectors and activities for partnership. Applications must clearly state the strategic objectives that will be achieved as a result of international collaboration. 

British Council will assess and shortlist applications.  Selected UK partners will be matched with an overseas counterpart and awarded a grant to carry out a project development visit. This enables organisations to meet with their prospective partners in-country and develop a foundation project proposal to be submitted shortly after their return. The strongest proposals are selected for International Skills Partnership funding.

As the application process is competitive it may be that an appropriate partner is not found during the first application round.  Unsuccessful applicants will be notified via email when relevant opportunities arise and will be invited to resubmit their application for future opportunities.

See the Downloads section below for an overview of the process and further guidance.  

Current opportunities

Applications for our latest round of funded International Skills Partnership opportunities have now closed

Organisations that have applied for this round can follow activity using the timeline below.

If you have questions about an application that you have already made, or if you would like to have an informal conversation about International Skills Partnerships please contact us at

Due to the large number of applications, all applicants who applied for International Skills Partnership opportunities by 10 June will be notified of the outcome for their application by or before Tuesday 21 June 2016 by 17:00. We apologise for any inconvenience this slight delay may cause.

Activity Dates
Release of call for travel applications for foundation partnerships  16 May 2016
International Skills Partnership Webinar 26 May 2016
Deadline for project development travel grants  for foundation partnerships 10 June 2016
Feedback sent to all applicant organisations and contracts sent   20 June 2016
Briefing workshop for successful organisations in UK and partner countries 27 June 2016
Visit of UK organisations to partner countries to develop foundation partnership proposals, supported by Country Managers 24 June – 26 August 2016 
Deadline for submission of full foundation and start-up partnership proposals 26 August 2016
Feedback sent to all applicant organisations and grant agreement sent to successful organisations 5 September 2016
Deadline for return of electronic copy of grant agreement  9 September 2016
First instalment of grant released to partnerships and partnerships go live  Upon receipt of the grant agreement