Inclusion of refugees in TVET

An exploration into TVET funding, planning and delivery

The British Council was delighted to welcome a number of stakeholders from across the Skills and International Development Sectors for the launch of our latest research paper which looks at the Inclusion of refugees in TVET. This paper which explores funding, planning and delivery for refugees in TVET looks at five countries: Ethiopia, Jordan, Pakistan, South Africa and the United Kingdom and notes that this is an increasingly pressing global challenge, 

We are grateful to Ayesha Williams and Paul Grainger from UCL’s Institute of Education who authored the report and they joined us to present their findings and discuss the implications with a number of partners from across the UK and International Skills Sector.

The event started with a welcome from Chris Cooper, Principal Consultant for Skills Systems, British Council. Chris highlighted the increasing urgency of the topic and some of the challenges in improving outcomes.  He emphasised that global collaboration on these issues is important but also that each system has something to learn from other approaches.

Ayesha and Paul who authored the paper ran through some of the key findings. They noted that defining both the term refugee but also TVET is important as both are multi-faceted and open to interpretation. Paul also noted that sometimes TVET may be underdeveloped in a country and the best way of improving outcomes for refugees may be to build capacity in the wider system. It was pointed out that strong community networks are important in improving outcomes and it needs to be understood that improving TVET outcomes for refugees is not simply an education supply issue. Equally sometimes the perception of refugees and the degree to which education for them is embedded into the system is important. If host countries don’t want refugees to get jobs and stay this is a significant barrier.

Further comments were made as the discussion widened, including that:

  • Sometimes both refugees and TVET face a negative stigma. It is important to avoid a stigma multiplier effect.
  • It is essential to show clearly for the local population the benefits of engaging refugees in TVET and make sure that locals have the same access to training programmes.
  • It is easier to take good TVET to refugees than the other way around.
  • Studies have shown that it can cost more to accredit prior learning than re qualify refugees and we need to make sure we are making good decisions both personally and economically.
  • Most TVET for refugees is short-term but segmentation is important to maximise benefits. How best can the skills of refugees be harnessed to their benefit and that of the country is the most important question to which sector led development may hold some of the answer.

There was a general consensus that this issue is growing challenge. The British Council would welcome any other contributions from partners to the discussion or ideas for future collaboration. 


The British Council Skills team and CollegesWales  were delighted to welcome a number of stakeholders from across the Skills sector for a discussion of specific challenges that smaller countries face in delivering vocational education and different ways these can be addressed. The event took place in Cardiff on 2 February 2017 and saw contributions from Iestyn Davies, Chief Executive of CollegesWales, and Morland Wilson, Project Manager at the British Council Jamaica, sharing their knowledge and expertise.

The roundtable discussion is one of the series of events organised by the British Council Skills team to provide UK Skills stakeholders with insights into the global skills landscape, bring them together with counterparts from overseas and discuss key global and UK challenges. 


The British Council and Think Global were delighted to welcome a number of stakeholders from across the Skills and International Development Sectors for a discussion on Global Youth Employability on 15 December 2016.

As part of the discussion, Catherine Richardson from Think Global referenced Turbulent Times. Their report developed with OCR which surveyed employers views on a number of questions related to how well we are coping, and are likely to cope in the future, with the unpredictable demands of a global world. Catherine highlighted three key findings from the report, namely that the skills gap persists, more needs to be done to prepare for future skills requirements in a global world and that employers are out of touch.

We then heard from Leighton Ernsberger, Head of Skills, British Council India. Leighton introduced an Overview of India's evolving Skills development Landscape which highlights the challenges facing India and the initiatives being taken to address them. Of particular note was the fact that the average age of the population in India by 2020 will be 29 years as against 40 years in USA, 46 years in Europe and 47 years in Japan. Leighton also pointed out that unemployment is highest amongst graduates and the significant opportunities for the UK to engage with the Indian Skills Sector.

Further comments were made as the discussion widened, including that:

  • It is important to consider audiences differently and, in particular, understand some of the challenges in gender parity
  • Decisions and structural factors affecting young people today can mean those young people carry the consequences for the rest of their lives
  • Policy needs to be right but education establishments and employers need to adapt to meet the challenges
  • Qualifications alone won’t create fully global citizens
  • Globalism is more effective when it permeates and is not viewed as a bolt on.

There was a general consensus that this issue is a key challenge of our time. We would welcome any stories or examples of effective practice or thinking in this area that we can share through our Global Skills Spotlight newsletter.

Please do get in touch by emailing if you are interested in supporting future Global Skills Spotlight events, would like to discuss previous topics or have any other projects you think would be of interest.