Getting Skills Right

2520-6125 (online)
2520-6117 (print)
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Skills have the potential to transform lives and drive economies. However, in many countries, imbalances between the supply and demand for skills lead to significant skill mismatches and shortages, with as many as three in five workers in the OECD employed in jobs that do not make the best use of their skills. At the same time, a large number of employers report hiring problems due to skill shortages. This series examines how countries measure changing skill needs and how they develop skills that respond to labour market needs and how they ensure that these skills are fully utilised by individuals and employers. Presenting both thematic reports on specific policies and issues and in-depth country reviews, this series offers countries the information and analysis they need to get skills right.

Getting Skills Right: Assessing and Anticipating Changing Skill Needs

Getting Skills Right: Assessing and Anticipating Changing Skill Needs You do not have access to this content

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08 Apr 2016
9789264252073 (PDF) ;9789264252066(print)

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Digitalisation, globalisation, demographic shifts and other changes in work organisation are constantly reshaping skill needs. This can lead to persistent skill shortages and mismatch which are costly for individuals, firms and society in terms of lost wages and lower productivity and growth. These costs can be reduced through better assessment and anticipation of changing skill needs and by improving the responsiveness of skills development to these changes.
This report identifies effective strategies for improving labour market information on skill needs and ensuring that this information is used effectively to develop the right skills. It provides a comparative assessment of practices across 29 countries in the following areas: i) the collection of information on existing and future skill needs; ii) the use of this information to guide skill development policies in the areas of labour, education and migration; and iii) governance arrangements to ensure good co-ordination among the key stakeholders in the collection and use of skill needs information.


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  • Foreword

    Across countries, substantial changes in skill needs are challenging labour market and training policies and contributing to skill mismatch and shortages. In most countries, large shares of employers complain that they cannot find workers with the skills that their businesses require. At the same time, in many countries, a number of college graduates face difficulties in finding job opportunities matching their qualifications.

  • Executive summary and key findings

    Skill mismatches and shortages are common in advanced economies. Many workers believe they have the skills to cope with more demanding work while some think they need more training to cope well with duties. On average, more than 40% of European workers feel their skill levels do not correspond to those required to do their job, with similar findings for Mexico, Japan and Korea. In parallel, many employers report that they face recruitment problems due to skill shortages.

  • Skills shortages and mismatches

    Increased globalisation and rapid technological change, but also demographic, migration and labour market developments, have altered considerably the structure of skill requirements in most countries in recent decades – and these trends are expected to continue in the foreseeable future. In such a rapidly changing world, the need for the assessment of existing skill shortages and for forward-looking information on how the labour market and the demand for skills might change has become increasingly acute. Indeed, this chapter demonstrates that: i) the costs of "getting it wrong" are substantial, with significant economic costs, for individuals, employers, as well as society as a whole; and ii) the extent of mismatch and perceived shortages is high, and in some countries even increasing. Yet differences in the extent of mismatch and the prevalence of shortages across countries suggest that skills policies can make a difference.

  • Tools and instruments to assess and anticipate skill needs

    In this chapter, a comparative review is provided of the skills assessment and anticipation exercises currently in place in OECD countries. It explores the time span, the methods, the national/regional/sectoral scope and the skills definitions used. It shows that skills assessment and anticipation exercises are carried out in all countries, but that the approaches used vary. Current exercises are being developed further in many countries, with new exercises being developed in others. In most countries obstacles in the form of lack of funds or human resources with the relevant knowledge hinder the further development of such exercises.

  • Uses of skills assessment and anticipation exercises

    In this chapter, a review is made of the policy uses that are made of the information produced by skills assessment and anticipation exercises. This highlights the wide spectrum of applications in the areas of employment, education and training, and migration policy. Moreover, the information is used not just by government ministries, but also by the social partners. That said, there are important barriers that hinder such information from being more fully or effectively exploited for policy purposes. Some of these relate to methodological issues inherent to the exercises themselves, while others are concerned with a lack of stakeholder involvement, the absence of consensus around skills needs, poor dissemination to a wider audience and the scattered nature of the policy response.

  • Governance and stakeholder involvement

    In this chapter, the various ways in which skills anticipation and assessment exercises may be governed are highlighted as well as the mechanisms put in place in countries for involving stakeholders in the discussion of findings and the development of a policy response. Governance of the exercises range from those that are user/policy-driven (and tend to be narrower in scope) to those that rely on independent agencies to produce assessments and forecasts for a more general use. Similarly, different approaches exist for stakeholder involvement, ranging from ad-hoc arrangements to more formal approaches. Either way, systems or procedures for dealing with potential conflict about skills needs or the required policy response are highly advisable.

  • Responses to the questionnaire

    The questionnaire was sent to the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour, employer organisations and trade union confederations in all OECD countries. The table below shows the number of replies to the questionnaire received from each country.

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