From education to employment

International collaborations key to bolstering training provider effectiveness, says report

International collaborations are said to play a key role in the ability of vocational education and training providers to produce training materials that help improve employability.

The ‘Building skills, building partnerships’ report commissioned by the British Council found that international partnerships can have a significant impact on organisational strategy and practices.

Through building up strong international relations, it can boost their relationships within the industry.

This in turn can lead to revised courses and teaching methods that provide students and staff with the international experience and skills that today’s employers are looking for, which can be a significant advantage in an increasingly competitive jobs market.

The British Council’s Director for Education and Society, Dr Jo Beall, said: “The message from this report is clear – international skills partnerships are of huge benefit to institutions, staff, students and their wider communities on both sides.

“The UK is rightly perceived as a leader in developing collaboration between education and business.”

Independent research organisation Elmvine reviewed the impact of partnerships between UK vocational education and training providers, and their international counterparts managed through three programmes: British Council ‘Skills for Employability’, the ‘UK India Education and Research Initiative’ and ‘Prime Minister’s Initiative’.

The review showed that the advantages of working internationally outweigh the challenges considerably, and bring long term benefits to the UK and international partners and their students.

Dr Beall added: “At a time when international markets are becoming more important, it’s vital for the UK’s skills institutions to develop their links overseas and ensure that students and staff have the right experience and the confidence to use it.

“We hope this independent research encourages more institutions to collaborate internationally to enhance their competitiveness and their curriculum offer.”

One of the partnerships reviewed, between London College of Fashion (LCF) and Yakkasaroy Light Industry College and Uchtepa National Crafts College from Uzbekistan, enabled LCF students to learn about textile production, an opportunity that was not otherwise available in the UK.

This partnership will help boost the students involved with their chances of finding suitable employment upon graduation. The Uzbek partners now have a strong commitment to engage with industry needs and demands.

Yakkasaroy and Uchtepa colleges have become Centres of Excellence for national educational developments, and have begun disseminating the good practice developed as part of the project across a wider community of colleges.

The report was launched at the British Council’s ‘Going Global 2012’ conference in London, the world’s biggest ever gathering of international education leaders.

Linsey Humphries

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