During March 2022, Ai Group’s Centre for Education and Training Executive Director, Megan Lilly, was consulted on a Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN) study on apprenticeships in eight small states in the Pacific and Caribbean. Megan has expertise in the area as a current member of the Australian Pacific Technical College Board.

The project recognises that strong apprenticeship systems have the potential to reduce the skills gap across the Pacific and the Caribbean. At the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Heads agreed on the need to invest in a systems approach to support young people to access meaningful and decent work opportunities, including through skills building, entrepreneurship, apprenticeships, and better data to target interventions effectively. Strengthening the capacity of apprenticeship systems is key to equipping young people with the skills to pursue entrepreneurship and self-employment and to meeting the needs identified by employers as necessary for growth and increased productivity. GAN received funding support for the project from the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Program.

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. Key actors in the establishment of the GAN were the International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Organisation of Employers (IOE), and the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Business at OECD.  GAN was originally tasked with the promotion of apprenticeships 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. Corporate members of GAN are multinational companies who share a commitment to work-based learning (WBL) as a means of equipping their own employees and the broader workforce with the skills needed in the twenty first century. GAN provides a platform for member companies to promote work-based learning across the globe, highlighting the advantages for companies who introduce WBL programs, for individuals, for society and the economy more broadly. Through sharing experiences and best practices, GAN Global members help one another and the broader business community to develop and implement effective WBL approaches.

GAN provides resources including: the range of company initiatives for WBLthe return on investment to WBLhow WBL can be configured to ensure diversity in workforces, WBL in the context of the Future of Work, and facilitating the link to the education sector. GAN Global and partners bring international best practice and experience. Projects include research on existing policies and best practices for WBL, policy advocacy in favour of WBL, and practical activities aimed at promoting uptake of WBL. Information on GAN Australia can be found here.