The world of work is changing rapidly. Digitalisation, globalisation, demographic change, the transition to a low-carbon economy and the fall-out from the COVID-19 pandemic are having a profound impact on jobs and the skills required to perform them. The extent to which individuals, companies and whole economies can reap the benefits of these changes will depend on the readiness of adult learning systems to help people develop and maintain relevant skills over their working careers.

Enterprises are a key provider of education and training for adults across OECD countries. While much has been written about firm-provided training, there remains a lack of detailed qualitative evidence on why, how and for whom enterprises provide learning opportunities. This study aims to complement existing large-scale quantitative enterprise surveys on employee training, such as the European Continuing Vocational Training Survey and the European Company Survey. It sheds light on the issue of enterprise training with new qualitative evidence from 100 case studies of enterprises in Austria, Estonia, France, Ireland and Italy. In opening the black box of training provision in enterprises, going beyond quantifying whether training is provided or not, it supports the design and implementation of effective policy interventions that aid enterprises in providing more and better training for their employees.

The authors of this report are Julie Lassébie, Anja Meierkord (project lead) and Stefano Piano from the Skills and Employability Division of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs. The work was carried out under the supervision of Glenda Quintini (Skills Team Manager) and Mark Keese (Head of the Skills and Employability Division). It benefited from helpful comments by Stefano Scarpetta (Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs) and members of the Skills and Collective Bargaining Teams at the OECD (Chloé Touzet, Luca Marcolin, Annelore Verhagen).

Around 300 managers, HR professionals and employees participated in these case studies. The research team is truly grateful for their time and insights. This report would not have been possible without them. The enterprise case studies were conducted by in-country experts, under the leadership of Karin Petzlberger for Austria (Austrian Institute for SME Research), Meeli Murasov for Estonia (Praxis Centre for Policy Studies), Patrick Werquin for France (Initial(es)), Seamus Carlin for Ireland (Cruinn Advisory) and Flavia Pesce for Italy (Istituto per la Ricerca Sociale).

The report benefited greatly from discussions with the European Commission (Alison Crabb, Ivan Ebejer and Mantas Sekmokas, DG EMPL) and the academic advisory group for the study, which included Salima Benhamou (France Strategie), Christina Enrichlmair (Austrian Institute for SME Research), Edward Lorenz (University of Nice) and Gijs van Houten (Eurofound). It also benefited from the helpful comments of a wider group of experts on first findings of the report during a workshop in May 2021. The European Commission and delegates of the OECD Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Committee (ELSAC) provided written comments.

This report is published under the responsibility of the Secretary General of the OECD, with the financial assistance of the European Commission (Grant VS/2020/0352). The views expressed in this report should neither be taken to reflect the official position of OECD member countries nor those of the European Commission.

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