Annex E. Topic guide management

  • Outline the aims of the study and purpose of the interview.

  • Inform the interviewee of the likely duration.

  • Provide a brief overview of the scope of the issues the discussion will be looking to explore.

  • Request permission to record the interview.

  • Outline the treatment of data gathered and the approach to confidentiality.

  • Gain explicit consent for the interview and its recording based on this.

  • Check if the interviewee has any questions prior to commencing the discussion.

  • Ensure that the interview is tailored to the interviewee and firm type.

  • Feel free to change the order of the questions, as long as all questions are covered.

I would like to start with asking a few questions about yourself.

  1. 1. Could you please describe your current role in [Enterprise]?


    • time in post, time in company

    • current remit, area of responsibility

    • previous roles

  2. 2. If you are happy to share, could you please tell me which year and month you were born in?

  3. 3. What is the highest qualification that you have obtained?

  4. 4. What is your own attitude towards learning throughout your life?


    • Why do you think it is important to keep you skills up-to-date?

    • How do you keep your skills up-to-date?

    • Do you take part in courses, seminars or workshops for learning purposes? When was the last time you took part in any of them?

  5. 5. [For interviewer only: Is the respondent male or female?]

I would now like to ask you some general questions about your [enterprise/establishment].

  1. 6. What is the main economic activity of the enterprise?

  2. 7. Is this the only establishment of this enterprise, or does your enterprise have other establishment, each with its own location, management, activities and financial statements?

  3. 8. Probe if yes:

    • How many other establishments are there and in where are they located?

  4. 9. Since what year has this enterprise been carrying out this activity? Please disregard any changes in ownership structure or location.


    • In the case of a past acquisition, please refer to when the acquiring enterprise was registered or, in the case of a merger, to the largest enterprise involved in terms of employees.

  5. 10. Is this enterprise a family business?


    • Has this enterprise been owned by multiple generations of the same family?

    • Are two or more members of your management team from the owning family?

  6. 11. Approximately how many people work in this [enterprise/establishment]? Your best guess is enough. Please think of all people employed full-time or part-time, regardless of the type of contract and of whether they are physically present or carry out their work outside of the premises.


    • Less than 50, 50-100, 100-250, 250-500, 500-1000, more than 1000

  7. 12. Has this number increased or decreased in the past five years?


    • Did the COVID-19 crisis have any impact on this development?

  8. 13. Could you describe the composition of your workforce to me?


    • Age profile

    • Gender breakdown

    • Educational background

    • Fixed vs. permanent contracts

  9. 14. Could you describe how the [enterprise/establishment] is organised?


    • Existence of organisational chart

    • Type of organisational structure

    • If hierarchical structure: number of levels

  10. 15. At a strategic level, who is responsible for planning training in your enterprise?


    • Do you have an HR department?

    • Is there a person with specific responsibility for training in your HR department?

    • If you do not have an HR department, who is responsible for assessing training needs and provision?

    • Are employees or employee representatives involved in the planning? How?

[If relevant].

  1. 16. How are HR decisions around training co-ordinated with the decisions in other departments, particularly when it comes to the identification of skill needs and the planning of training?

[Continue with all interviewees]

  1. 17. What strategy does your enterprise use to stay competitive?


    • offer products or services at lower prices than the competition

    • offer products or services of better quality than the competition

    • customise products or services to meet specific customer requirements

    • develop new/innovative products, services or processes

  2. 18. Over the past three years, what were the main investment priorities of this enterprise?


    • What were your big investments in these areas?

    • Why did you chose to invest in these areas?

  3. 19. If you are comfortable sharing this information: before the COVID-19 crisis, what was the overall financial situation of the enterprise?


    • How has this changed in the context of COVID-19?

  4. 20. Were there any other ways in which your business was affected by the COVID-19 crisis?


    • Impact on orders

    • Impact on employee numbers

    • Application of short-time work

I would now like to ask some questions around why your enterprise is providing training and what it is hoping to get out of it.

  1. 21. To what extent does your enterprise provide training opportunities to its employees?


    • What share of employees take part in training in a given year?

    • How many days does a typical employee take part in training?

    • What groups of employees train more?

    • Are these people in specific jobs?

    • Do these people have specific personal characteristics (age, time in enterprise, level of education)?

    • Does the [enterprise/establishment] offer specific training for employees in a disadvantaged position on the labour market, for example those in jobs at risk of automation or those with low skills?

  2. 22. Has the economic uncertainty induced by the COVID-19 epidemic affected your training provision in recent months?

    Probe if yes:

    • How so?

    • Do you think these changes will be permanent? If not, how long will these changes to your approach to training persist?

  3. 23. What are the main reasons your [enterprise/establishment] provides training to its employees?


    • Productivity gains

    • Staying competitive

    • Adapting to change (i.e. technical, organisational, or demographic change)

    • Employee satisfaction and retention

    • Lack of skilled personnel, skills shortages

    • Regulation or legal requirements

    • Common practice amongst companies in the sector or beyond

    • Government incentives

  4. 24. Would your [enterprise/establishment] benefit from providing more training to its employees? If yes, what are the main obstacles to providing more training?


    • Limited time for certain staff to participate in training

    • Difficult to assess skill needs of different employees

    • Difficult to find time to organise training internally

    • Training is too expensive

    • Difficult to find suitable courses offered by external providers

  5. 25. Have your reasons for providing training changed in recent months due to the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Probe if yes:

    • Do you expect this to be a long-term change in your [enterprise’s/establishment] approach to training? If not, how long do you think that these changes to your approach to training will persist?

  6. 26. Providing training is only one the strategies to make sure that an enterprise has the skills required to perform its activities. To what extent do you rely on any of the following solutions compared to training?

    • Hiring in people with the required skills

    • Outsourcing activities for which you do not have the skills in-house to other companies

    • Relying on other solutions (for instance technological solutions, such as automation of certain tasks, learning by doing, or any other solution)

  1. 27. Are there any further comments you would like to make?

Thank the interviewee for their time and briefly discuss next steps.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2021

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at