Regular live discussions bringing together our partners from around the world to share insights and experience on a key topic of global importance. You can see previous and upcoming events here and if you have an idea for a future one or would like to follow up please do get in touch at

Read an article from Lesley Giles, Independent Commissioner and Director of Work Advance, about our online discussion on ‘What does the college of the future look like around the world?’.

26 November 2020 - What should the College of the Future be?

What should the College of the Future be?

The British Council were delighted to welcome policy makers, leaders and TVET professionals from over 20 countries to reflect on the role of colleges and how they, and the systems they are part of, should adapt to meet the needs of the next century.  You can access a recording of the event here.

Enhancing the effectiveness of all types of training provider is an essential component of modernising TVET but colleges often have a unique role as anchors in communities with a public mission. The chair of this session, Andy Hall, Senior Consultant, British Council reflected on the vast array of ambitions that colleges need to meet and that we needed to be careful we do not simply add extra responsibilities to colleges without the resources and frameworks to enable them to deliver.  We also noted that in deciding on the role of the college of the future we need to ensure this process does not become too prescriptive and top down and allows room for evolution and innovation.

We then heard from Lesley Giles, Director of Work Advance and Commissioner for the Independent Commission on the College of the Future. The Commission is a collection of colleges and stakeholders in the UK skills system who have collaborated across the four nations to set out a joint vision for the role of colleges. You can access their final report via their website. Lesley summarised their work and the final report which makes a series of recommendations including a statutory right to lifelong learning, supporting colleges ability to engage employers and emphasising collaboration, rather than competition between colleges. 

We were also fortunate to be joined by Dr Pham Vu Quoc Binh, Deputy Director General, Directorate of Vocational Education and Training, Vietnam. Dr Binh expanded on the work his department are doing to support the modernisation of colleges in Vietnam which includes reform of the National Qualifications Framework, moving to outcome-based college assessment and enabling colleges to be more autonomous. Dr Binh also elaborated on the importance of creating an enabling environment for colleges to thrive as a policy maker and the need for employers and colleges to actively participate in reform.

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

  • Lifelong learning is often not given as much recognition and the impact of Covid and industrial change means we need to be careful to ensure consideration is given to retraining and colleges’ role in that
  • That colleges are a first choice and a second chance for learners, and that one size does not fit all in shaping how they operate and deliver positive outcomes for different groups
  • That employer engagement is vital, but we need to rethink how colleges engage to ensure they are not training for the jobs of yesterday and using old models that do not account sufficiently for new industries and MSMES
  • That colleges are getting a lot right and we should not view them as a problem to be fixed but as really effective institutions that can be enabled further

This discussion was held as part of our Global Skills Spotlight community.  You can sign up here to receive updates and our newsletter. The next live discussion will take place in January and you can find here past blogs, research pieces and discussions.

Please do get in touch by emailing if you would like to follow up on the discussion or have any suggestions for future themes we could cover.

22 October 2020 - "Unlocking regional capacity to address TVET and Employment Challenges" - Watch the recording of the live discussion here!

The British Council were delighted to welcome policy makers and TVET leaders from over 15 countries around the world to reflect on the role and effectiveness of regional skills development. This is an area we have worked in for a number of years and we know regions are vital engines in driving improvements in skills and employment. The chair of this session, Chris Cooper, Principal Consultant, British Council set out some of the thoughts that informed this discussion and the lessons we have learned in a blog that you can read here.

The event, which you can watch again here, started with a welcome from Chris highlighted the importance of the topic and some of the complexities. He pointed out that countries are increasingly looking to regions to take the lead in aspects of skills development and that there is much we can learn from how others have attempted this around the world. 

Chris also highlighted that despite many factors affecting the implementation of Skills Policy at a regional level including financial, legislative and political concerns, that culture and people were hugely important in the successful implementation of reform. 

We then heard from Al Mouzouni, Project Lead, British Council Morocco. Ali is leading on a current EU funded project which is supporting the devolution of powers of Skills Development to regions in Morocco and he set the context for this project. Ali explained that at the early stages of supporting regions as is the case in Morocco the confidence stakeholders have in regional systems is important as is a clear definition of roles and responsibilities.

We were also very fortunate to be joined by Seonag Campbell from Skills Development Scotland, whose remit is supporting Island communities. Scotland has a well-developed system of regional devolution and Seonag explained some of the key components of this including: understanding the needs of local industry, responding to key local issues such as depopulation and the integration with other economic and social ambitions. 

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

  • Geography is an important factor to consider and we need to ensure the devolution is tailored and shaped to the right level and locality.
  • That we need to understand that unchecked, devolution may create winners and losers in the system and be prepared for the implications of that.
  • That many countries are looking to diversify economically and enabling regional autonomy is one way this can be achieved.
  • That TVET is a mechanism to many ends and at a regional level it can sometimes be easier to join these agendas than nationally.

There was broad consensus that regional skills development can be a powerful tool to support economic and social ambitions. This discussion was held as part of our Global Skills Spotlight community. You can sign up to the newsletter here  and see other planned events you can sign up for here.  The next live discussion, ‘What should the College of the future be?’ will take place at 11.00 GMT on 26 November 2020.

Please do get in touch by emailing if you would like to follow up on the discussion or have any suggestions for future topics.