Chapter 4. Towards an action plan for jobs in Slovenia: Recommendations and best practices

Stimulating job creation at the local level requires integrated action across the employment, training, and economic development portfolios. Co-ordinated place-based policies can help workers find suitable jobs, while also contributing to demand by stimulating productivity. This requires flexible policy management frameworks, information, and integrated partnerships which leverage the efforts of local stakeholders. This chapter outlines the key recommendations that have emerged from the OECD Review of Local Job Creation in Slovenia.


Better aligning programmes and policies to local economic development

Recommendation: Inject flexibility into the management of employment programmes and policies at the local level

In Slovenia, programmes are designed nationally and provide limited strategic flexibility for local employment offices to tailor programming to local labour markets. Local and regional offices can provide input during the preparation stage of the development of programmes and policies, but their overall influence is low. This limited input from local offices can have a negative impact on overall implementation. It is recommended that the public employment service provide some degree of flexibility to regional and local offices in the management of employment policies. OECD research has articulated the benefits for providing flexibility within programme design and eligibility criteria, outsourcing arrangements, budget management, and strategic approach.

It is important to differentiate between operational and strategic flexibility. Operational flexibility applies to the delivery of programmes, and refers to the leeway given to individual case officers to decide on the type of policy intervention that should be used to serve an unemployed client. In an operationally flexible system, service providers would, for example, be able to determine which available services should be provided to a particular client ranging from facilitated self-service to different types of training and/or intensive counselling. Strategic flexibility applies when the local employment service takes a leadership role in adjusting programmes and policies to their local labour market.

The government could examine the possibility of providing some budget flexibility to local offices to design and implement their own programmes and strategies for employment and job creation. Special conditions could be placed on this flexible budget envelope to ensure that local PES offices use this funding to foster partnerships and collaboration with other local stakeholders when delivering programmes. This type of mechanism would provide local PES offices with some latitude to fit programmes to local labour market needs, which are different across Slovenia and would be welcomed by local PES offices. Box 4.1 describes examples of how OECD countries inject flexibility into the budget management of public employment services.

In determining whether or not to award flexibility at the local level, the government should examine the capacity of regional and local offices to ensure they are sufficient to manage this responsibility. Providing flexibility at the local level can lead to unintended consequences and inequitable service provision if it is not provided incrementally and where strong capacities exist.

Box 4.1. How do OECD countries inject flexibility into the budget management of public employment services?

Quebec, Canada: In Quebec, Canada, local employment centres are provided with considerable autonomy from the provincial level in determining how to target employment and training programmes to local client groups within a flexible funding pool allocated from the regional employment office.

Czech Republic: Regional offices can move over 15% of their budget line with prior approval from the Directorate General of the Labour Office.

Flanders, Belgium: VDAB (the public employment services agency) in Flanders, Belgium has also moved towards a more flexible employment services model. A board of provincial directors takes decisions autonomously, developing provincial business plans within the framework of the plan for the whole Flanders region. With regard to budget management, local employment offices have the ability to devote about 20% of their budget envelope to locally-designed strategies. This means that local VDAB representatives are able to take a stronger leadership role locally, with the local representative in the city of Antwerp galvanising actors to work together to tackle employment issues in particular local sectors.

Source: OECD (2014a), Job Creation and Local Economic Development, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Recommendation: Create a co-ordinated action plan for jobs and simplify institutional arrangements and responsibilities across the range of government actors

There is a dense network of actors in Slovenia who have a role to play in designing and delivering employment, skills, and economic development policies. This demonstrates the importance placed on developing and utilising a skilled workforce for better economic development opportunities. However, there are a number of challenges associated with the current structure. For one, parallel strategies are being prepared at the national and regional level at the same time by different actors, which can create duplication and inefficiencies in policy implementation. At the national level, awareness of the initiatives and policies of other ministries is weak, which can lead to fragmentation and inefficient service delivery at the local level. Likewise, at the local level, communication and co‐ordination between the various stakeholders was reported to be insufficient. Overall, there is an opportunity to simplify institutional arrangements to improve overall performance with the public sector while enabling stronger co-operation and integration on the ground. A clearer division of responsibilities would allow for more efficient co-operation.

A gap that emerged during this OECD review was a lack of a co-ordinating structure to bring together public employment services, education and training institutions, economic development actors and employers in a structured way at the local level. In order to address this, the government should examine the possibility of piloting the establishment of a local board in one or two regions. Such boards could be tasked with co-ordinating the relevant policy portfolios and provided with a funding envelope to introduce joint programmes under a regional employment and economic development strategy, potentially linked with the national action plan for jobs. A small budget that would be distributed regionally could help to stimulate co-operation at regional/local level.

This would give local communities more opportunity to frame and manage the policies that are implemented in their area. With the goal of simplifying institutional structures, it would be important to identify a local lead organisation/actor. This would be a core regional institution that would have the responsibility for regularly working with important regional and local stakeholders to actively manage regional/local development. Such a leader should be empowered with both adequate human and financial resources. For example of how this has been in done in New York City, see Box 4.2.

Box 4.2. Career Pathways: One City Working Together, New York City

While New York City accounts for a large proportion of the Untied State’s GDP, it also faces significant challenges related to growing income inequality. Like many other places, job growth in recent years has been concentrated in high-wage/high skill and low-wage/low-skill industries, and the rising number of working poor face limited career progression opportunities. At the same time, employers report facing a shortage of high-skilled workers. Despite the fact that New York City’s workforce development system has a budget of approximately USD 500 million a year, serving roughly 500 000 clients, it was not well suited to address these challenges. The city’s workforce system spanned multiple agencies, with each agency having its own set of goals, rules and processes. In addition, unions, private employers, philanthropy and non-profits also provided workforce programmes and training.

In 2014, the mayor convened the Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force to set new priorities for employment and training programmes across agencies. This task force was overseen by the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development and brought together actors from the “supply” side of the workforce (educators, non-profit leaders, advocates, union leaders, and philanthropists) and the “demand” side (business leaders and employers). It identified a need to re-orient the system away from simple job placement to career development and need to better align programmes and services across agencies, including creating stronger linkages with the city’s economic development activities. More concretely, it identified the following priorities:

  • Building Skills Employers Seek: focus on connecting New Yorkers to quality jobs with family-supporting wages and career advancement potential, including creating strong Industry Partnerships that provide robust feedback loops with companies in priority sectors of New York’s economy.

  • Improving Job Quality: reward worker-friendly business practices such as consistent scheduling, access to commuter benefits and financial empowerment services.

  • Increasing System and Policy Co-ordination: align workforce and economic development initiatives, utilizing local legislation and administrative policies as key levers to promote career pathway development and implementation.

These priorities have been operationalized into 10 recommendations, with progress being tracked on each. More information is available at

Source: The City of New York (2014), “Career Pathways: One City Working Together”,; The City of New York (2015), “Career Pathways: Progress Update”,

There are a number of institutions that could play this role, including the Regional Development Agencies, regional public employment service offices, Adult Education Advisory Boards, and local public authorities. However, in many places, some combination of lack of capacity, lack of leadership skills, lack of community trust, or lack of statutory power hinders their ability to effectively adopt this responsibility.

During the course of this OECD review, discussions revealed that local PES offices have strong credibility and trust and therefore could potentially play such an intermediary and anchor role. Regional development agencies are an important actor in this space but many local organisations appear less than satisfied with the current level of engagement and dialogue that is undertaken. To more broadly fulfil these responsibilities, more efforts are needed from the regional development agencies to reach out and work with local partners and stakeholders to define strategic objectives from a regional development perspective.

Recommendation: Use local labour market information and intelligence to conduct more evaluations on the strengths and weaknesses of EU-funded projects

There are a broad range of programmes available to assist and activate the unemployed back into the labour market. However, in many cases, the nature of project financing for many employment and economic development programmes hinders their sustainability. The government should examine opportunities for working more closely with regional and local employment and economic development organisations to better plan for the sustainability of programmes and determine which could be financed over a longer-term basis.

In addition to examining how to provide more sustainable funding for successful programmes, the government should seek to strengthen the overall evaluation culture of active labour market programmes to inform future planning and development. Programme and policy evaluations can provide insights into which policies are most effective and/or how programmes should be reformed to make them efficient. A stronger evaluation approach in Slovenia would enable policy-makers to choose appropriate measures and stimulate the rational use of resources available.

An important component of using a more evidence-based approach is having access to good data and information. It is necessary to have strong reliable data that are recent and interpreted within the right labour market context. In Slovenia, there is a strong level of data available on labour market trends which enable trend analysis within regions. More work could be done on skills forecasting and anticipating future demand. Local universities and research centres could play a stronger role in this area where capacity exists. The government should examine opportunities within the Ministry of Labour to undertake more analysis on the future needs of the economy. An international example of this approach is detailed in Box 4.3.

Box 4.3. Ireland Expert Group on Future Skills Needs

The main Irish state agency for data analysis is the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) which advises the Irish government on current and future skills needs of the economy and on other labour market issues that impact Ireland’s enterprise and employment growth. Established in 1997, the EGFSN reports to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and the Minister for Education and Skills and is funded by the National Training Fund. Forfás provides it with research and secretariat support while the FÁS Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) provides it with data, analysis and research and manages the National Skills Database.

There are a number of main sources for regional and local data collection and analysis. An annual National Skills Bulletin provides estimates of skills shortages across the full range of Standard Occupational Classifications, carried out by the EGFSN. This contains a short section on regional skills profiles but does not provide the same level of detail, and sector-specific analyses are likely to be ad hoc. In 2012, the EGFSN also published regional labour market profiles which have significant potential to support regional decision making by education and training providers, as well as career guidance and immigration services. These profiles extract data from the Central Statistics Office, government departments, the state development agencies and other sources to sketch the characteristics of each region’s economic structure and workforce. The data and analysis comes from the SLMRU and its National Skills Database.

Source: OECD (2014b), Employment and Skills Strategies in Ireland, OECD Reviews on Local Job Creation, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Adding value through skills

Recommendation: Create a well-functioning apprenticeship system that better connects training opportunities to the workplace

The importance of developing a well-functioning and effective apprenticeship system has gained traction within many OECD countries following the global financial crisis, as countries seek to reduce youth unemployment and better link education and skills policies to the workplace. Apprenticeships and other work-based training opportunities provide an effective mechanism to build stronger connections between training providers and employers, while ensuring that individuals receive a good mix of theoretical and practical skills. Slovenia lacks a well-functioning apprenticeship system. There is currently a national working group on reforming apprenticeships, but key sticking points include the status of apprentices (whether pupils or employees), how costs will be shared between the government and employers, how to ensure quality, especially in SMEs, and concerns that taking on apprentices will actually reduce productivity in SMEs.

During the course of this OECD study, stakeholders were unclear about the current state of apprenticeship opportunities in Slovenia. Therefore, it is important that the government develops a communication strategy going forward about what apprenticeship opportunities exist as well as the benefits to be obtained from participating. During discussions undertaken for this review, employers were critical of the knowledge and skills of recent training graduates. Many employers in Slovenia would welcome an expansion of apprenticeship opportunities.

At the local level, municipalities could play a stronger role in working with local employers to demonstrate the benefits of participating in the apprenticeship system. This could include setting up information session, breakfast meetings, or city councils to actively encourage employers to participate in any new apprenticeship programmes. For example, in the UK, local apprenticeship hubs have been set up in the city of Manchester and the Leeds City Region to act as central co-ordinating and marketing organisations to engage with employers and individuals on apprenticeship programmes.

Local leadership from key stakeholders is particularly important in ensuring the effective implementation of apprenticeship systems. For example, in the New Zealand town of Otorohanga, employers and young people were targeted by a group of concerned local leaders, including the mayor, church leaders and major employers. The activism and leadership from these actors resulted in custom initiatives to improve apprenticeship participation and completion rates, including personalised assistance, increasing access to off-the-job vocational training and personal pastoral care. The mayor, a former apprentice himself, prioritised the development of a network of local stakeholders to improve the outcomes of the apprenticeship system and to reach out to local employers. Designing an effective apprenticeship system will be a challenge in Slovenia as there is an obligation to build stronger employer buy-in as well as capacity within the vocational education and training system. In trying to develop more apprenticeship opportunities, the government should also ensure that quality apprenticeships are available in new and emerging occupations. This would include looking at how to expand apprenticeship opportunities beyond the traditional manufacturing and construction sectors.

Box 4.4. Key Policy Principles from the German Apprenticeship Model

A more transparent, simpler transition for young people

  • Make the apprenticeship route an attractive option for good school performers but also ensure entry mechanisms for weaker school performers;

  • Ensure schools have good links with firms and further training and tertiary education institutions, alongside strong career guidance;

  • Pre-apprenticeship courses can serve as means to better prepare young people for a vocational route and to integrate more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into apprenticeships;

  • Training contracts can be offered to each school leaver with the necessary general skills and who is seeking an apprenticeship. Those not offered an in-company apprenticeship should be offered a recognised alternative by an external provider.

Improving work organisation

  • Ensure good work organisation in firms. This includes having high numbers of skilled workers and recruiting managers from the shop floor, thereby ensuring they have the technical skills and good insight into the company. This in turn can promote access to training and results in a mix of management types;

  • More decentralised forms of work organisation and giving workers more autonomy can bring about better quality work and allow apprentices to more fully utilise their skills, thus resulting in productivity increases.

Access to career advancement training

  • Supplement initial vocational training with advancement training to enable apprentices to progress to higher level jobs. In addition to specific occupational courses, general components could be included in this training, such as business administration and apprenticeship pedagogy;

  • It is critical that advancement courses are certified and fit into national qualification frameworks so that apprentices who complete them can widen their professional prospects and are more mobile in the internal and external labour market.

Broad apprenticeship occupations

  • Broader apprenticeship occupations mean more mobility and flexibility for apprentices. They also ensure more transferable skills, meaning workers are less vulnerable to unemployment in the face of an economic slowdown;

  • Provide a mix of training for apprentices in joint core competences (such as teamwork) and occupation-specific competences. Commitment to providing training and safeguarding apprenticeships

  • An effective apprenticeship system is dependent on employers being committed to providing training. Agreements between the key social partners at all government levels can be crucial in re-engaging employers, particularly as more seek to reduce training costs following the economic crisis;

  • Training pacts at the national, regional and local level can be a good way to ensure involvement by social partners and strong employer representation (e.g. via employers’ associations, chambers of commerce, as well as unions and government). These do not necessarily require additional financing;

  • Put in place mechanisms to keep apprentices on in times of high unemployment and to provide employment after completion, if even for a limited duration.

Source: Evans, S. and G. Bosch (2012), “Apprenticeships in London: Boosting Skills in a City Economy – With Comment on Lessons from Germany”, OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Working Papers, No. 2012/08, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Recommendation: Encourage participation in adult education by developing upskilling and retraining opportunities

Developing efficient life-long learning systems that provide opportunities for upskilling and retraining throughout people’s careers is becoming increasingly important as technological and structural transformations reshape labour market demands and requirements (OECD, 2016a). At present, the education and training system in Slovenia has a strong youth focus and does not provide sufficient life-long learning opportunities. While young people are encouraged to pursue tertiary education through free tuition and scholarships schemes, older workers and part-time students are generally not entitled to such financial support. As a result, participation in formal or informal training is particularly low among disadvantaged population groups, such as the low skilled. The lack of incentives for older workers to upgrade and renew their skills has led to a major generational skills gap and explains for a large part the low employment rate among older population groups.

A number of steps could be taken to reform the Slovenian life-long learning system so as to allow more workers to progress in their career, adapt to new occupational standards, or change occupation as the structure of the economy evolves. First, financial support for pursuing higher education and training programmes could be extended to older worker as well as part-time students. A training voucher system could be put in place, with priority given to job seekers with low skills levels as well as workers whose jobs are at risk of being displaced.

The way training programmes for adult are designed is also crucial. Training providers should be encouraged to offer a range of training that is tailored to the specific needs of potential target groups. For example, online and distance learning may be more adapted to those in employment or those living outside of major urban centres. Box 4.4 shows an example of such approach in Ireland. Introducing flexibility in the design of training courses, by developing part-time and modular courses, may also contribute to making training offers more attractive to a larger audience.

Box 4.4. FÁS E-College in Ireland: Flexible responses to the skill needs of learners

Online courses in the E-College, set up by FÁS, are designed to be a flexible response to the specific skill needs of job ready individuals who require training with certification to assist them to re-enter the labour market. Online courses are available free of charge to unemployed clients. Courses are also available, for a fee, to employed persons who wish to update their skills. These courses are delivered completely online and technical support is also provided. All FÁS online courses last for 14 weeks, but learners continue to have access to the course and materials for a further ten weeks (i.e. 24 weeks in total). Over 30 courses are available and course categories include Operating Systems, Networking and Technical Support, Software Development/Programming, Office Applications, Web Design/ Multimedia, and Soft Skills. Learners are able to participate in blended learning courses in selected areas in the near future, which provide additional online tutor support and a range of online training with enhanced learner supports including telephone, email, E-tutor and instructor led workshops. Some courses may also include one to one, group mentoring, assignments or project work.

Source: OECD (2014b), Employment and Skills Strategies in Ireland, OECD Reviews on Local Job Creation, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Public Employment Services have a key role to play in driving such changes. They should encourage more people to participate in upskilling and retraining activities, seek to activate jobseekers as early as possible, and focus their efforts on those workers that are the most difficult to place.

Recommendation: Strengthen local employer ownership in the design and delivery of skills development opportunities

Overall, there is a wide variety of training available. Up to 20% of the nationally set VET curriculum is “open” to enable tailoring at the local level, which creates a space for engaging local employers. However, during this OECD review, local stakeholders reported that this allows the tweaking of existing programmes while there is a stronger need to enable flexibility in overall programme delivery. Capacity also poses a challenge in some places, especially in more remote areas where the economies of scale necessary to deliver some VET programmes are not available. Poland has recently adopted a regional approach to VET to help overcome similar challenges.

Box 4.5. Taking a regional approach to VET in Poland

In the Dolnośląski Region of Poland, the regional authorities diagnosed a number of deficiencies in vocational education. On this basis, they planned a regional programme of vocational education development, including the selection of seven economic sectors of special importance for the regional labour market, and then set up vocational training centres related to these sectors in 9 counties. The distribution of the centres was spread evenly throughout the region. The Programme included investments in infrastructure (modern equipment for vocational education), as well as investments in the competences of teachers and students (additional lessons for students, intensive co-operation with local employers, educational and vocational counselling for students).

This programme is a good example of the co-ordination of VET development in a region, which requires establishing a good partnership among regional and local authorities, implementation in a planned and systematic manner, and taking a selective approach to improving the quality of vocational education. It is also an example of good co-ordination between different instruments: investments in the infrastructure were finance by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), while investments in competences were finance by the European Social Fund (ESF).

Source: OECD (2016b), Employment and Skills Strategies in Poland, OECD Publishing, Paris.

This OECD review has highlighted a number of comprehensive efforts that are being made by employers in the Drava and South-East Slovenia regions to provide skills upgrade opportunities. Furthermore, inter-company training centres (MIC) are an interesting example of successful collaboration between the VET system and local companies. The government needs to build on these efforts to identify local companies who can take a leadership role in reaching out to other employers to promote the benefits of VET and advise training institutions on curriculum development and delivery.

OECD research has shown that one way of addressing potential skills shortages and mismatch is by ensuring that employers are fully involved in the employment and training system. This means providing employers with a forum to advice on their training needs, while also having them take a lead role in the delivery of training opportunities to develop a skilled workforce. In trying to better align the supply of skills and educational opportunities to local job opportunities; it is necessary to strengthen the overall engagement of employers. This includes using employers in an advisory capacity as well as in the overall delivery of certain programmes and policies. The quality of training opportunities could be improved by providing strong incentives to employers to collaborate with the training system.

In the UK, Employer Ownership pilots have been introduced giving employers direct access to government subsidies for workforce training as opposed to the traditional arrangement whereby all government funding goes direct to colleges and training providers (OECD, 2014a), while an example of employer leadership in Australia can also provide inspiration (see Box 4.6).

Box 4.6. Employer leadership to attract and retain apprentices in Australia

The ABN Group in Australia consists of 23 companies that supply a range of services to the residential and commercial construction markets, from financing to property development, and from building to renovations. One of its companies, ABN Training, is the Group’s own specialised training arm that was specifically established to manage the apprenticeship programme operating across the ABN Group of companies.

The ABN Group employs 1 700 people, and engages more than 3 000 construction contractors. Around 20% of their workforce is currently comprised of apprentices, compared to an average of approximately 5% amongst the construction sector as a whole in Western Australia.

The main goal of ABN Training’s apprenticeship programme is to achieve the highest possible retention of graduated apprentices within the ABN Group, with the broad aim of guaranteeing future accessibility to tradespeople that are skilled to ABN Group’s standards and organisational culture. Underlining this is the aim of being able to achieve generational change in standards relative to core issues such as safety, work readiness and quality of work.

The ABN Group is involved in a number of corporate social responsibility and community initiatives through the ABN Foundation, its not-for-profit foundation. ABN Training, besides implementing the company’s workforce development strategy, is also seen as an adjunct to the Group’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, incorporating its owners’ desire to improve lives through access to high quality training and contributing to up-skilling the construction sector as a whole.

The ABN Group’s workforce development strategy has a “whole of life” approach, and consists of three phases:

  • Promotion of career paths in the construction industry to Year 10-12 students;

  • In-house delivered apprenticeship programme; and

  • A “graduation” programme offering employment solutions both within the ABN Group and the broader building and construction industry to maximise the retention of graduated apprentices.

The main innovation implemented by ABN Group’s apprenticeship model has been adapting the standard Group Training Organisation (GTO) arrangement into an internal, enterprise-embedded structure. By doing this, the company has been able to take ownership of its apprenticeship programme as a key part of its workforce development strategy and train apprentices in a way that is aligned with its brand and organisational culture.

Source: OECD/ILO (2017).

Targeting policy to local employment sectors and investing in quality jobs

Recommendation: Focus efforts on the better utilisation of skills to stimulate innovation and productivity

In Slovenia, the development and launch of the Smart Specialisation Strategy will guide EU investments going forward. The strategy aims to improve the overall position of the Slovenian economy and increase exports through the better use and development of technology. With the goal of creating innovative and productive local companies, there is an opportunity to start focusing government policies on the better utilisation of skills.

Investment in the supply of skills alone will not be sufficient to secure job creation and productivity in all local economies. The degree to which local employers are demanding and using skills also has to be taken into account. Low demand for skills amongst employers and poor utilisation of skills can undermine productivity. It can also reduce the quality of local jobs in terms of salaries, job security and the possibility for career progression. A situation of low skills trap can develop where there is a concentration of employers in a region that are pursuing price-based competition strategies that rely on low-skilled and standardised production or services. This is often a problem experienced by more peripheral rural regions. Such regions can fall into a vicious circle as it does not pay for people to invest in skills when skills are not valued by employers.

Skills utilisation policies complement supply side solutions by focusing on working with employers to improve how they use the skills of the employees in the workplace, either by re‐organising work practices or by moving to more skill-intensive and higher value-added products and services. This review has examined the extent to which 1) the public sector works with employers to improve skills utilisation and work organisation; 2) sector/industry bodies are involved in such activities; and 3) universities and training institutions undertake applied research of relevance to the local economy. Of the above three areas, it was most common for universities and training institutions to be undertaking applied research of relevance to the local economy to Slovenia. This suggests that public agencies could do more to promote the better utilisation of skills within local sectors of importance.

On a case-by-case approach, the government could examine opportunities to provide regional and sectoral support to specific local employers to assist them in upgrading their production process or re-organise work (see Box 4.7 for examples of how this has been done in other places). Employment agencies can also play an important role in helping firms to better utilise their workforce, for example by supporting the development of career progression opportunities for lower-skilled workers. VET and other education institutions can also play a larger role in working with employers to upgrade production processes or conducting applied research. If established, local boards could also be tasked with looking at these more entrenched skills issues that fall outside of any single policy domain, which would complement efforts that have been launched through the Smart Specialisation Strategy (see Box 4.7).

Box 4.7. Examples of approaches to fostering skills utilisation

Liideri in Finland. Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation), runs a number of programmes to foster innovation, including “Liideri – Business, Productivity and Joy at Work Programme”. Unlike more traditional innovation programmes, this programme focuses workplace development, in particular developing management practices and forms of working that promote the active utilisation of the skills and competences of employees. Liideri is the latest in a series of publicly funded workplace innovation programmes in Finland, which were first launched in 1993. While these programmes were initially co‐ordinated through the Ministry of Labour, in 2008 there were transferred to Tekes. This transfer was part of the adoption of a new national innovation strategy that emphasises demand and user-driven innovation and non-technological innovations.

The Liideri project has three focus areas: renewal of management; employee participation in renewal of products, services and their production; and new forms of work organisation and working. A number of instruments are used to effect change in these areas, including work organisation development projects, integrated R&D projects, funding for research, and widespread dissemination of the outcomes

Innovative Workplaces in the UK. The Innovative Workplaces programme was a regional pilot initiative in 2009-10, funded by the East Midlands Development Agency. It was intended that the project would benefit a small cohort of business leaders, managers and supervisors across ten organisations, each of which would benefit from long-term organisational change. The project was justified as a means of breaking out of the low skills trap by developing and unleashing the enterprise skills and competencies of those in work, enabling employees to use their initiative to innovate and create new business strategies and solutions whilst achieving maximum productivity. Both UK WON, a not-for-profit body involved in disseminating and developing innovative workplace practice, and Acas, a UK government body with a tripartite structure, charged with promoting and facilitating strong employment relations, were involved in the design and delivery.

Ten companies took part in the project. Each company nominated two “gatekeepers” to attend the programme and to act as the catalyst in developing and implementing workplace innovations. These gatekeepers participated in an initial short course of three and half days delivered over three months. This course gave the gatekeepers the opportunity to learn about good practice, develop their leadership skills, evaluate their own organisations with reference to workplace innovation practices, and formulate an action plan for change. A local further education provider was involved in delivering the course so that it could be accredited as Institute of Leadership and Management ILM Level 3 Award in Leadership and Management. Gatekeepers also took part in monthly half-day network meetings which provided greater depth of understanding in relation to specific aspects of workplace innovation, exploring practical dimensions of the initial course in more detail. Senior advisors from Acas served as “change facilitators, and provided in‐company advice and guidance in relation to action plans.

All the participating organisations reported that the Innovative Workplaces programme had led not only to the achievement of some of the workplace changes sought in their initial action plans but also to improvements in the wider employee relations climate. For the majority their aspirations for participation in the programme were achieved to a great extent and a range of different, but frequently related, organisational issues were addressed; these included improved levels of employee engagement, morale, communications between management and employees in different functional areas, workforce flexibility, and the implementation of change. Respondents from the smaller organisations were especially positive and more likely to have a shared view within the organisation about the outcomes of the programme and its business benefits. Additionally, an economic impact assessment reported an overall minimum return on investment of £ 4 for every £ 1 of public sector expenditure. Positive impacts were reported in terms of Gross Value Added per employee (including productivity gains) and jobs safeguarded or created. (See Chapter 4 of this publication for more information).

Source: Tekes (2014), Liideri – Business, Productivity and Joy at Work; a new Finnish National Programme,

Recommendation: Foster a stronger culture of entrepreneurship within employment services focused on the core working age population

Slovenia has set the goal of raising the youth entrepreneurial activity from 11% to at least the EU average of 12.8%. This is a welcome development and will be an important future source of new job creation opportunities and investments. Previous OECD research has highlighted the importance of the PES in making unemployed people aware of the opportunities to be gained from entrepreneurship (OECD, 2015). This rapid assessment also highlighted the importance of using ESF funding to highlight successful initiatives to inspire unemployed individuals.

Between 2007 and 2013, the PES delivered entrepreneurship opportunities through the self-employment programme, which provided subsidies to about 24 000 individuals. More than 85% of these participants survived the first two years, while 94% survived the first year. Moreover, 19% of self-employed also became employers and created more than 2 600 new jobs. The share of women was first aimed to be 40%, but on average it reached over 41% and was 45.2% is 2013.

The government should consider re-introducing this programme or launching a programme that focuses on core working age individuals and older workers. The previous OECD rapid policy assessment noted the narrow focus of current entrepreneurship programmes on highly educated unemployed youth. This is a critical age group but other efforts are also required to stimulate entrepreneurship within unemployed individuals outside of this demographic group. To overcome potential opposition from union groups, a consultation process could be launched to build awareness about the need for action in this area.

Being inclusive

Recommendation: Continue to leverage the role of the social enterprise sector in supporting inclusive growth

Slovenia performs relatively well in terms of inclusiveness compared to other OECD countries. For example, Slovenia has the lowest rate of income inequality post taxes and transfers of all OECD countries (OECD, 2015). Despite this performance, a number of significant challenges remain in integrating disadvantaged groups and migrants. In Slovenia, there is a strong history of division of labour along gender lines, and challenges with the integration of the Roma people, as well as immigrants (within the context of low overall flows of immigration,). Additionally, in addressing long-term unemployment, there are clear capacity gaps within the PES, as hiring freezes have left many of the psychologist and career counsellor positions unfilled when former staff have retired or left the organisation. Place-based disparities also exist – while Slovenia has a relatively low rate of regional disparities when measured by GDP per capita, the impact of the financial crisis was geographically concentrated, with more than half of all job losses occurring in only 2 of Slovenia’s 12 regions (OECD, 2014c).

For Roma populations, sustained attention is needed to identify and implement measures that best stimulate their inclusion in education, employment, and training from an early age, while also improving their overall living conditions. In terms of addressing the division of labour along gender lines, lessons such as those learned from a successful project undertaken in Maribor to provide employer-based training for women in traditionally male-dominated professions could be more broadly shared.

Slovenia should continue to focus on the role of the social enterprise sector in reaching out to disadvantaged population. Previous OECD research found that Slovenia’s specific economic and political history had resulted in an under-utilisation of the social enterprise sector (Spears et al., 2010). More recent reforms such as the introduction of a national Social Enterprise Act in 2011 represent important progress. However, within the case studies analysed for the purpose of this study, it appears that the current suite of programmes and funding are not optimal. Thus, continued attention should be paid to how the potential of this sector can be fulfilled.


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