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Matthew Anderson, Executive Director, TVET UK

TVET UK has operated below the radar, but brought in major business – worth at least £20 million – to the UK by promoting British technical and vocational training expertise abroad. Matthew Anderson, Executive Director, spoke to The PIE.

The PIE: Please tell me about how TVET UK was set up?
MA: It was driven by UKTI (UK Trade and Industry) who wanted an organisation to deal with technical vocational education and training [hence TVET]. They asked the Association of Colleges (AoC), British Educational Suppliers and English UK to make it a reality.

MAnderson

"Individual colleges, universities, schools and suppliers will typically never get near the decision makers in places like Turkmenistan"

TVET UK ended up sharing office space with English UK when initially set up and its remit is to help boost export revenue for UK businesses which have a vocational slant – be they education suppliers or specialist equipment suppliers. Due to funding complications we decided to run it as a membership body.

What deals have you managed to win on behalf of TVET members?
MA: We have brought in around £20 million so far! It is difficult to quantify; it could be much more as we effectively introduce people to potential business and if they choose not to share info with us we may not know.

Kazakhstan is great country and I would encourage anyone thinking of it as a market to go

We have won part of a €3 million EuropeAid project in Turkmenistan; our first aid-funded success aimed at building the Turkmen vocational system. Another example is £6-7million in business in Kazakhstan which was our number one market. This came via equipment, college partnerships, ELT, curriculum development and corporate training. Kazakhstan is great country and I would encourage anyone thinking of it as a market to go (via a TVET UK mission of course).

The PIE: How does this feed into the ‘traditional’ model of international education?

MA: We are going in at a much higher level. Individual colleges, universities, schools and suppliers will typically never get near the decision makers in places like Turkmenistan, where we engage with the deputy prime minister (one down from the President).

He has a great knowledge of UK education and was keen for us to bring over some of our expertise in the energy sector. If we were a training provider, we would have had no way to access him or find the vision to engage in that way in the industry. It’s a similar situation in Saudi Arabia, where we have engaged directly with the minister of labour which has boosted our credibility and allowed one college to pick up business by association with TVET UK!

We have no agenda, we simply work with the customer to understand what they want and match that to UK capability

We have no agenda, we simply work with the customer to understand what they want and match that to UK capability. This leads to satisfied customers and the spread of a great reputation. Other competing nations tend to offer their product and that is that.

The PIE: Are there other reasons why countries like to engage with British business?

MA: The UK vocational system once explained is a great product. Qualifications delivered in colleges which have been developed in accordance with industry requirements are a great selling point, and of course there is the need to speak English!

Our qualifications framework also helps out. The fact is that once you have an HND or a BTEC you can transfer onto a university course whereas at 18 you might have had no hope of getting into the same university if you didn’t have the “stepping stone” qualification. [more>>]

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