The Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) is an independent and private sector led non-profit association that works towards promoting apprenticeships and work-based learning. To know more about the journey of GAN and its goals, Team NSN connected with Ms. Nazrene Mannie, Executive Director, GAN.
In this Skill Story Ms. Nazrene shares her views on the importance of work-based learning, many important aspects related to skill-based education. Read on to know more.
Q: When was GAN founded and what was the reason behind the formation of GAN?
A: The main reason behind formation of GAN was to address the youth unemployment challenge by bringing world leaders, businesses and governments together. The world was fresh out of the global financial crisis and we needed a vehicle led by the private sector that could give opportunities into the labor market and used apprenticeships as the answer for it.
Apprenticeship was a win-win situation for all the stakeholders as it has huge long-term benefits in terms of ROI, career development, career pathways and job opportunities. We were formed by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and others. We also have large private sector members who are able to demonstrate the need for apprenticeship and the need for skilled craftsmen. In GAN, we believe that creating awareness regarding the importance of vocational education has been the key.
Q: What GAN does to ensure the promotion of work-based learning?
A: As the face of the future of work is changing, we have been reviewing our strategies over the last two years. It’s clear to us that we not only need to focus on the youth unemployment issue, we also need to focus on the whole of the workforce along with the need for upskilling and reskilling.
Now, we focus on sustainable and decent workforce development using work-based learning. We are not only focusing on apprenticeships but on work-based learning opportunities that includes internships, traineeships, on the job training and apprenticeships.
It is a challenge for us to take people with knowledge, skills and experience and either upskill them or reskill them to respond to new and emerging trends in the world of work.
There is a need to build foundational skills like problem solving, creativity, team work, communication and others. These skills will allow people to become agile and flexible within the workplace.
GAN has been partnering with many countries over a period of time. In November, this year GAN New Zealand was added to the GAN family. There we are preparing a sustainability plan and preparing an analysis of the skill system, demonstrating how they would fit into it. We are in a conversation with India as well and looking forward to building a partnership.
Q: How important work-based learning is? Please share your views on this
A: Work-based learning is the pathway for the brightest learners. However, it is not seen very effectively which is an issue in almost all the countries that we have partnered with so far.
If we take countries like Switzerland, Germany and the Netherlands, their work-based learning systems are centuries old. In these nations, there has been a realization, over many centuries that skilled people are central to the economic development of the nation. This realization should spread across the globe. GAN is working towards achieving the same.
A lot of our work is around advocacy and it is around the policy development issues as we have realized that enabling the framework is the key. Having a legislative framework in place is essential which should engage the employers as well as the education system and not overly bureaucratic.
In terms of the advocacy issues and the awareness creation, one of the initiatives is community engagement. We are educating the parents and the teachers who play vital roles in a student’s life while choosing their career path. We did an interesting project in Argentina in October where we have trained 500 school teachers on understanding the vocational education system. Because they don’t know how to guide their students, what the opportunities are, what the job prospects are, what the career paths that are offered are. So, it is about the awareness of possibilities that vocational education offers.
Another major issue would be giving vocational education learners a pathway into higher education where they could pursue higher education even after working for a few years. This parody of the qualification doesn’t exist in many countries.
The other thing is the role of the employer. This is where business and the private sector partners need to step up to demonstrate what is it in terms of job openings, what kind of learning pathway should learners consider.
Also read: How TVEC is paving way for efficient technical education and vocational training in Sri Lanka https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/how-tvec-is-paving-way-for-efficient-vocational-education-in-sri-lanka/
Q: Please tell us more about GAN’s achievements
A: We have had several achievements in the policy and advocacy space so far. We’ve been able to go into countries and test and influence their policy frameworks with governments. We work closely with the ILO, on their policy and standard setting processes.
Peer-to-peer learning has been a significant achievement. We have set up platforms, webinars, face-to-face, seminars, conferences ringing interested in peers to partners together to learn and share from one another. We have done a lot of thought leadership under which we have created and generated original research content and studies. We try to go on the field ourselves to clarify some of our assumptions around vocational education, apprenticeships and the value of work-based learning.
We are working on a very interesting guide at the moment with the world business council on sustainable development (WBCSD) and PWC. The guide will be for the benefit of chief HR officers.
Using the voices of the CEO in the private sector companies to amplify the message related to vocational education would be another important achievement.
For 2021 we will be working for the four pillars- peer to peer, policy advocacy, thought leadership, and private sector leadership. We want to work for the two key areas- digital inclusion, and women and girls in STEM.
Q: Please share your views on Apprenticeship engagement in SMEs
A: Engaging the SME sector in training and skill development is so critical, because most jobs are created by the SMEs sector. This is where having simple policies are important. Because, we can’t over burden an SME with a very detailed quality assurance system. We must ensure that the training is done at the relevant standards but we have to simplify it.
We should find either external trainers to support them or we should incentivize the training. In South Africa they have a policy called Youth Employment Tax incentives to strengthen the SMEs where they provide incentives to the SME workers who are below 29 years of age. We must think about how to engage our informal traders to offer learning and development and how to recognize the training because often it would not be structured and not be formal. However, it’s really for the policymakers to expand the opportunities that are available and to give recognition and to provide incentives and administrative support.