The Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) was established in response to the high levels of youth unemployment that resulted from the 2009 economic crash. As economies around the world gradually recovered, youth unemployment remained persistently high. During the 2012 G20 and B20 meetings, government and business leaders alike called for measures to be put in place to address the problem.

As part of their response, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Business at OECD, established GAN Global. The organisation was originally tasked with the promotion of apprenticeship to get young people into the workforce and equip them with the skills needed for work.

The organisational mandate has since expanded to encompass all forms of work-based learning. The expansion in mandate reflected the changing world of work which requires not just young people to acquire and develop skills, but which requires flexible and lifelong approaches to training.

In 2020 – when the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – the importance of skilling and training was once more reinforced. Today, GAN convenes key stakeholders in business, policy and government to work towards a future in which all individuals and businesses have the skills and competencies they need to thrive and to contribute to society.

GAN Feasibility Study

In 2013, the ILO embarked on a feasibility study to gather information from businesses about their apprenticeship programs and to determine how an international business network on apprenticeships could add value for business.

In collaboration with the IOE and members of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Youth Unemployment, the ILO collected information from stakeholders on country and company apprenticeship practices. It also explored the interest and eventual commitment of companies to join

forces to promote apprenticeships through a GAN.

Throughout the process, the study stressed the importance of coordinating, collaborating, and cooperating to build on the initiatives already under way in the apprenticeships and work-based training arena.

Based on the recommendations of the report, the GAN was established as a Swiss Association in 2014. The ILO provided initial funding for the GAN and continues to support the GAN financially on an ad hoc basis.