The Role of the Business Sector in Implementing GESI in Dual VET

The Role of Business Sector in Implementing GESI in Dual VET, Source: Swisscontact

In dual VET the business sector (individual companies and the organised business sector) plays a critical role, and so do their strategies and approaches to address GESI.

  • However, under which conditions does the business sector become a driver for inclusive dual VET as training provider and employer?
  • Is it feasible to consider GESI as a business case ?
  • For which groups, sectors and occupations and with which priorities and partnerships is this feasible, if at all?
  • Are there any promising examples that proof that GESI in dual VET makes sense for businesses?

Overall Context

Worlwide, companies are increasingly embracing inclusive and diverse workplace development and workplace-based training as an integral part of their core business strategies. With globalization and digital transformation shaping today’s economy, fostering diversity at the workplace is not only a smart move but also essential for addressing persistent skills shortages and gaps – in this sense, it is or at least can be a business case (GIZ,2016, ILO-OECD, 2017; Cheshire, 2018). Evidence from research highlights the positive impact that diversity can have for businesses e.g., fostering an innovative learning environment and contributing to a positive reputation. Moreover, research indicates that diverse teams can increase productivity of a company by up to 35% due to a deeper understanding of customer needs that lead to better-designed solutions (ILO, 2022).

However, not only the business sector itself but also governments play a crucial role in driving change within the business sector e.g., by defining adequate regulations and providing incentives that encourage increased training and hiring of women and disadvantaged groups (ILO, forthcoming). In addition, associations and industry bodies are also contributing by taking initiatives that address structural skill shortages. Impressive examples for such initiatives are:

  • BayWork (USA): By collaborating with community-based, social and training agencies, BayWork serves as coordinator for recruitment, training, and certification across multiple employers. This approach effectively meets the workforce needs of employers while also significantly diversifying their workforce. The emphasis on the “business case” for a diverse workforce, rather than solely focusing on social benefits, contributes to its success (Curtis, 2021).
  • Three ready-made garment associations (Bangladesh): Together with the government and disability organisations they built capacities of training provision in VET centres and companies and support workplace adjustments in companies, leading to new avenues for economic and social mobility of rural women, people from lower casts and for people with disabilities (ILO, 2012; ILO, 2017).

There are several international networks which promote GESI in businesses including the exchange platform Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN), International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the UN Global Compact Initiative, that monitors specific targets set by the companies. A collection of good case practices for disability inclusion in companies can be found in the  ILO Global Business and Disability Network. In addition, there is an increasing number of independent business initiatives. They foster GESI in VET as part of their global business expansion strategies aiming at meeting  skills gaps  in the countries where they set up offices.  There are a number of companies especially in the IT, manufacturing and service industry which integrate people with autism by offering them apprenticeships and job placement (workology, 2016). Excellent case studies on such initiatives are available on International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the UN Global Compact Initiative.

DC dVET BarCamp & Further Resources: How can development cooperation support the business sector to take an active role in realizing inclusive (dual) VET?

During the 3rd DC dVET BarCamp on “How does the private sector refer to GESI in their dual VET strategies“, the following aspects were highlighted:

  1. Leadership Commitment and Engagement:
    • Leadership commitment plays a crucial role in successfully involving the business sector in GESI.
    • Engagement in training and employment from the beginning is important.
    • Collaboration with sector/industry associations is essential for scaling-up initiatives and fostering shared commitment and vision for inclusion and diversity.
  2. Sensitization and Awareness:
    • Companies need to be sensitized about the importance of creating safe and inclusive training and workplace environments.
    • Building a business case for GESI can help to convince companies to adopt GESI strategies and invest in inclusive VET.
    • Addressing stereotypes within communities and among parents is important for promoting GESI.
  3. Partnerships and Collaboration:
    • Collaboration with specialized organizations, consultancies, or NGOs is beneficial for systematic implementation of GESI, customized VET and inclusive work practices.
    • Involving specialized partners in mapping new occupations and labour market opportunities for specific target groups identifies additional training needs and improves their employment prospects.
    • Collaboration with NGOs and government agencies are crucial for promoting role models and sharing good practices.
  4. Monitoring and Matching:
    • Monitoring the transition from training to work is important, and tracer studies provide valuable insights.
    • Utilizing IT platforms for connecting jobseekers and companies for training and employment opportunities is recommended.
    • Careful matching of employers and jobseekers is essential for developing satisfactory and long-term employment relationships, considering the needs of both parties.
  5. GESI Implementation:
    • GESI-responsive programming requires regular audits and dedicated resources for capacity building, documentation and progress monitoring.

For more in-depth information discover the keynote by Diane le Goff (Schneider Electric), the discussions during the exchange sessions and further resources:

Keynote by Diane Le Goff (Schneider Electric)

Schneider Electric has embraced Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) as a crucial component of its business with impact initiative. Alongside its global business expansion in the electric and solar sector, Schneider Electric implements skills development and youth entrepreneurship programs on a global scale, working in partnership with governments, businesses, NGOs, and donor organizations.

Youth Education and Entrepreneurship (Part 1)

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Exchange Sessions & Conclusion

The discussions in the exchange sessions were based on inputs by:

  • Diya Tabina Joebhaar (SRE Women) and Iriana Vebiyanti (GIZ ISED Project) on mainstreaming GESI in TVET through GESI Audits from Indonesia (see presentation),
  • Benedikt Metternich (ICEP) about the private sector in dual VET & GESI focusing on Kenya & Uganda (see project insight aside) and
  • Ms. Diane Le Goff (Schneider Electric) on strategic partnerships in dual VET & GESI (see keynote).

Project Insights

CorporAID is an Austrian business platform that supports enterprises in adopting responsible business practices in developing countries. It also assists their partners in building local capacities in VET and entrepreneurship initiatives. Funded by ADA and with technical support from ICEP, it builts capacities of VET centres in Kenya and Uganda and promotes gender equality by closely working with enterprises.

Interview with B. Metternich

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Further resources from DC dVET members, other donors and organisations and projects:

Resources of DC dVET members & projects

International initiatives & networks promoting diversity & inclusion in VET & workplaces

  • Global Apprenticeship Network (GAN).
    Networks countries where enterprises actively engage in quality apprenticeships. Conduct webinars and research.
  • Global Business Network for Disabilities :
    Resources, series of Webinars, highlighting business case and employer initiatives for inclusive VET and workplaces, also in Africa and Asia.
  • International Organisation of Employers (IOE): Global Association representing Employers and business interests in ILO.
  • UN Global Compact: UN Global Compact Initiative

Reports and good case practices on the role of employers & workplace-based training