Driving Private Sector Engagement to Unlock the Potential of Quality Apprenticeships

This article first appeared on FE News on 19 April 2024 and can be accessed here.

In this article, GAN Global Executive Director, Kathryn Rowan discusses the crucial role of private sector engagement in implementing quality apprenticeships, as outlined in the ILO’s recommendation. She highlights the benefits of industry-relevant training, financial investment, mentorship, and enhanced employability. The launch of the Corporate Champions for Apprenticeships platform at the World Economic Forum in Davos demonstrates progress in driving private sector commitment.

In the realm of global workforce development, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Quality Apprenticeships Recommendation (R208) is a breakthrough for governments, employers, and workers for all nations working towards sustainable economic growth and equitable employment opportunities. For International Leadership Week 2024, we take this opportunity to spotlight the pivotal role of private sector engagement in actualizing the principles laid out in this groundbreaking recommendation.

The Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) stands at a unique junction of this endeavour, championing collaboration between businesses and policymakers to foster a skilled workforce ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. This article delves into the significance of private sector involvement in driving the adoption and implementation of quality apprenticeships as adopted by tripartite members of the ILO – encompassing workers, governments, and employers of 187 member states.

The Imperative of Quality Apprenticeships

Quality apprenticeships offer a dual benefit: they equip individuals with practical skills and knowledge while meeting the evolving needs of industries. Rooted in the ILO’s Recommendation, quality apprenticeships are characterized by their alignment with labor market demands, adherence to decent work principles, provision of formalized training, and inclusivity across gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Amidst rapid technological advancements and shifting market dynamics, the demand for a skilled workforce is paramount. Quality apprenticeships serve as a bridge, ensuring that people acquire the competencies demanded by emerging sectors while mitigating the risk of skills mismatches.

Private Sector Engagement: A Catalyst for Progress

While governments play a pivotal role in creating conducive policy frameworks, private sector engagement is indispensable in the realization of quality apprenticeships.

Here’s why:

Industry-Relevant Training: Private enterprises possess invaluable insights into industry trends, skill requirements, and technological advancements. By actively engaging with the private sector, apprenticeship programs can be tailored to meet the evolving needs of businesses, ensuring that participants graduate with skills that are immediately applicable in the workplace.
Financial Investment: Sustainable apprenticeship programs require financial resources for infrastructure, training materials, and mentorship. Private sector involvement brings forth financial investments, leveraging corporate social responsibility initiatives, workforce development grants, and partnerships with educational institutions to ensure the continuity and scalability of apprenticeship schemes.
Mentorship and Guidance: The mentorship provided by seasoned professionals within the private sector is invaluable in nurturing talent and fostering a culture of continuous learning. Through apprenticeship programs, businesses have the opportunity to groom future employees, impart industry-specific knowledge, and instil professional ethics and values.
Enhanced Employability: Collaboration with the private sector facilitates the design of apprenticeship curricula that align with industry standards and certifications. As a result, apprentices emerge with credentials that are recognized and valued by employers, enhancing their employability and facilitating smoother transitions into the workforce.

The Corporate Champions for Apprenticeships (CCA):

The CCA was officially launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2024, a few months after the official adoption of ILO’s Recommendation on Quality Apprenticeships at the International Labour Conference (ILC) in 2023. The CCA is a platform to increase private sector commitment through Guiding Principles on Quality Apprenticeships, based on the Recommendation. CCA companies pledge to promote the Recommendation, share knowledge, partner, and steward its implementation by upholding a set of Guiding Principles to ensure that a company’s apprenticeship program meets the ILO’s quality standards.

As we commemorate International Leadership Week 2024, let us reaffirm our commitment to quality apprenticeships as a catalyst for economic empowerment and social inclusion. By harnessing the collective expertise and resources of the private sector, we can transform the vision of the ILO’s Recommendation into tangible opportunities for individuals and sustainable growth for industries and countries.