GAN Global 2018 Annual Board Meeting and UK Event 

Our 2018 Board Meeting, took place in London, on 12 November at JP Morgan. An exciting new pathway was put in motion and supported by Board Members, which would scale the GAN from 1.0 to 2.0. Particularly, the new strategic framework for the GAN considers an inclusive definition of apprenticeship, extending to people of all ages and considering vulnerable backgrounds.

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This new framework also promotes adaptable and flexible timeframes of training, extends to “new-collar” jobs, and considers other modalities. Concerning country networks, we will investigate how we can better support and define our networks. We look forward to working with you in defining by country, company, and organisations, how we can better collaborate to achieve these goals.


The GAN Management Board also welcomed its newest members, Mr Mario Greco, Group CEO, Zurich and Mr Johnny C. Taylor, President and CEO, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

Bringing together its member CEOs, heads of international and business and employer organisations, it was a high-profile and timely opportunity to build on the momentum of the global apprenticeship movement and the cross-cutting discussions in the UK about skills development. Topics that were tackled included incentives, labour market skills gaps, access to talent, training programmes that ensure inclusive and diverse workforces, and how to engage SMEs in setting up high-quality apprenticeships.

Hosted by Board Member JP Morgan, event partners included a diverse range of stakeholders – Microsoft, Accenture, The Adecco Group, Hilton, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), City & Guilds, Grant Thornton, Optimity and Holts Group. To set the tone of the day, the GAN Board Meeting was immediately followed by an interactive session with members and an inspiring group of young women from the Young Apprentice Ambassador Network (YAAN).  Animated by the BBC’s Director of Leadership Development and New Talent, Claire Paul, she noted that the SMEs aspect is particularly important as motors of job growth and as a viable entryway to reach vulnerable communities and youth.

According to City & Guilds, nine out of ten employers are in need of relevant skills, with two out of three employers foreseeing a worsening skills gap. The largest barrier remains to be the stigma around the apprenticeship pathway. Seventy percent of Generation Z prefer the traditional university route although, it is foreseen that only 30% of jobs by 2024 will require academic graduates. This is why the role of the YAAN is so important, serving as an inspirational reminder that apprenticeship can be the ticket to a fulfilling career and sought after skills.

Deputy Mayor of London Jules Pipe, set the scene for the following panel discussions, positioning Brexit as only an acute reminder for the UK’s need for skills, and not necessarily the driving force for skills attainment. Since the introduction of the levy, apprenticeships have decreased by 21%. However, with the levy transfer that allow larger companies to transfer funds to its supply chain, we hope to see more opportunities. The UK’s success will be defined by how stakeholders react to the challenges faced by Brexit, how it leverages the levy so it can increase apprenticeship openings, and especially how it can attract certain populations to maintain a skilled workforce.

Rosie Wallace, a Solicitor Apprentice from Eversheds Sutherland and a member of the YAAN, raised the issue of how to ensure a diverse workforces through an organic, natural process, as opposed to a quota requirement. Indra Nauth, Director of Black Training & Enterprise Group (BTEG) directed the audience to a toolkit that they are developing with employers to prevent positive discrimination, while considering how their decisions and choices impact the development of a diverse workforce.

Examples of SMEs working with MNCs

With 25% of the levy that can be transferred from larger companies to SMEs, specific skills gap can be addressed to meet the demands of the supplier. GAN Board Member Microsoft gave scalable examples of how it has partnered with their providers for skilling digital specialists in the UK. This program is one of their best kept secrets, with 20,000 apprenticeship starts by 2020.

Tackling the future of work challenge, they are working closely with universities to integrate AI content in their curricula, and with employers, training providers and apprentices. One of Microsoft recipient partners, TechQuarters has built their talent pool in a cost-efficient way, with 25% of its staff going through the apprenticeship route. According to Sarah Foxall, Corporate Affairs Manager at Microsoft, “digital apprenticeships” are transforming the world of work, which hasn’t seen so many shifts since the industrial age. 

The road ahead

The main challenge in the UK, as in most other countries remains to be the stigma and lack of knowledge about apprenticeship’s potential. Clare Bonson, Head of Small Employer Strategy of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) confirms that progress has been made at schools to recognise the apprenticeship pathway as a valid option but the need is to target youth and parents even earlier, at the primary school level. 

Although there is much work to be done to get both large and small companies to understand how to use the levy to work in their best talent interest, the main takeaway of the day is that the largest roadblock remains to be the issue of stigmatization around the apprenticeship pathway. Companies internally need to be convinced of its value, alongside parents and educators. HR Managers can be a huge obstacle and we need to understand the value of transferable skills, as opposed to limiting talent to just qualifications and previous experience.

Pictures from the day

Stay tuned for the GAN’s upcoming guide that we are working on with City & Guilds and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) on global and domestic examples of large businesses working with SMEs in their supply chains to ensure a skilled workforce.