On 11-13 December 2019 in Kathmandu, Nepal the British Council hosted an EU VET Toolbox seminar on Private Sector Engagement in Skills Development in South Asia. Bringing together 60 employers, policy makers, representatives from sector skills organisations, education leaders and EU representatives from Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as Europe and Africa, the seminar focused on exploring shared challenges and practical solutions to engaging employers in skills development.  

This highly successful event combined expert presentations - including an outstanding keynote from Dr Ligaya L Dumaoang, Skills and TVET Specialist at the International Labour Organisation – inspiring panel sessions and case studies, searching discussion sessions and insightful visits to employers. Key themes of the seminar included megatrends impacting on skills development and country responses to the new opportunities and challenges, ways of incentivising employers as key players and drivers of skills development, apprenticeships and the relationship between skilling staff and business success, career pathways, the importance of life skills, and international collaboration in the area of employer engagement.

Allied to this, the seminar showcased the work of the VET Toolbox, including recent impactful interventions in Pakistan and Uganda. It also unpacked the simple request process for VET Toolbox support and explored initial ideas for future interventions, helping to lay the foundations for further VET Toolbox engagement with countries across the region.

The feedback from delegates was extremely positive, with many highlighting the benefits of sharing experience with those from other South Asian countries. Saadia Ainuddin, Development Adviser at the EU Delegation to Pakistan said: ‘This regional seminar was a highly valuable experience, allowing us to share and explore practical examples of what works to overcome skills development challenges – challenges that are often very similar from country to country. It was particularly useful to have the opportunity to discuss issues with counterparts from other countries in South Asia. These countries have a great deal to learn from each other but usually most projects don’t provide this opportunity. I think it’s quite far-sighted of the VET Toolbox to build this in.’

Neil Shaw, VET Toolbox Manager at the British Council added, ‘We’re delighted with how the seminar went and grateful to the EU for the opportunity to deliver it. It was an intensive and highly enjoyable learning experience for everyone involved and the knowledge gained, and international contacts made will feed into the building of stronger employer engagement in all of the countries represented here. We’re looking forward to future collaboration with those who participated in the event and hopefully to new VET Toolbox interventions to help realise some of the great ideas about strengthening private sector engagement in skills development in South Asia.’