Everyone – from employers to apprentices to training institutes and education providers - benefits from embracing the full potential of apprenticeships. This is a smart way of working and will work towards creating a better business environment in Pakistan.
Simon Perryman, a UK-based consultant and trainer
To improve the effectiveness of Vocational Education and Training (VET) reforms to ensure they are more demand-driven, responsive to labour market needs and provide increased access to employment, including for disadvantaged groups.
In 2018 a new Apprenticeship Act in Pakistan came into effect, which included reform of the apprenticeship system to better meet the demands of industry and raise standards. The Act is aligned with the National and Vocational Technical Training Commission (NAVTTC) Skills Strategy and requested the development of a handbook to assist them with shaping the implementation of the Apprenticeship Act. Our experience of skills work in Pakistan and access to suitable expertise made us ideally placed to support. The project represents the next stage in ongoing work we are delivering in Pakistan to help build fit-for-purpose apprenticeship programmes.
VET Toolbox interventions are demand-led and result in fast project delivery lasting between three-four months. Our response to the new Apprenticeship Act at the start was to undertake a scoping visit to Pakistan with UK and local consultants. This included visits to employers, training institutes, the NAVTTC and Technical Education & Vocational Training Authorities in Islamabad, Lahore (Punjab Province) and Karachi (Sindh Province). A handbook was created as a practical guide to apprenticeships for employers and training institutions, supported by a series of workshops conducted in eight different cities across Pakistan, engaging 262 private organisations.
Overall we advised on how to engage employers in apprenticeship schemes, built capacity of TVET officials and strength linkages between industry and training institutions. The intervention directly helped to facilitate positive systemic change in the skills system in Pakistan, in line with our South Asia skills strategy.
Over 250 key stakeholders in Pakistan were engaged with the handbook. Evaluation of the beneficiaries reported that 87 per cent were satisfied with the outcomes of the handbook. Amongst the lessons learned were the importance of bringing sector stakeholders together to establish apprenticeship committees and funds to help implement learning; and of earliest possible adoption of the new Act in each Province, adjusting the Act as needed to meet local circumstances.
The Pakistani government authorities now plan to utilise the Handbook to develop a comprehensive training and orientation programme for both government and private stakeholders across the country.
The roll-out of our handbook and training in Pakistan increases the UK's reputation for VET best-practice and builds on strong existing relationships with Pakistan. More broadly, the VET Toolbox programme allows us to develop intellectual property that can be used to support skills and TVET reform initiatives in future for the benefit of UK business. It provides us with the opportunity to develop funded regional and national seminars that enhance the UK’s and the British Council’s network. Furthermore, the programme allows us to go further upstream in the planning process for skills and VET system reform planning, providing UK experts and partners with continued insight and learning.