copy the linklink copied!Executive summary

copy the linklink copied!OECD-Slovak Republic collaboration on the OECD National Skills Strategy project

This National Skills Strategy project provides Slovakia with tailored findings and recommendations on its skills performance from an international perspective. It was launched at the Skills Strategy Seminar in Bratislava in January 2019, with senior representatives from the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport; the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family; the Ministry of Finance; the Ministry of Economy; and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Investments and Informatization. Also present were representatives of the European Commission. During two further missions to the Slovak Republic in April and June 2019, the OECD engaged with a range of ministries and government agencies and over 100 stakeholders in interactive workshops, group discussions and bilateral meetings (see Annex A). This process provided invaluable input that shaped the findings and recommendations in this report.

copy the linklink copied!Key findings and opportunities for improving the Slovak Republic’s skills performance

Three important themes emerged from the National Skills Strategy project for Slovakia:

  • Equipping younger and older generations with the right skills for the future: In the context of low (and declining) performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), as well as the fact that many adults do not have the skills needed to succeed in an interconnected and digital world, Slovakia should invest in the skills of its people by raising the performance of schools, improving teacher quality and remuneration, strengthening the responsiveness of the education system, promoting adult learning, and developing entrepreneurial skills.

  • Ensuring inclusiveness in the development of skills: There are significant equity concerns in the Slovak education and training system, including the strong impact of socio-economic background on skills performance. Slovak Roma students in particular face difficulties in progressing through the Slovak education system, and low-skilled adults insufficiently participate in adult learning.

  • Strengthening the governance of skills policies: For Slovakia, many of today’s skills challenges are rooted in inefficient governance arrangements, with ample room to improve collaboration between ministries and levels of government, and opportunities to strengthen the implementation of policies and reforms.

The OECD and the Government of Slovakia identified four priority areas for improving Slovakia’s skills performance, which are the focus of this report. The key findings and opportunities for improvement in each of the areas are summarised below and elaborated in subsequent chapters, which also have detailed policy recommendations.

Priority 1: Strengthening the skills of youth (Chapter 2)

Ensuring that youth leave school with strong skills is key to ensuring that Slovakia has the skills it needs to achieve its economic and social ambitions.

In Slovakia, the skills of 15-year-olds (as measured by PISA) lag behind their peers in other OECD countries in reading and science, and are declining over time. Performance in school is uneven across different groups of youth, especially between Roma and non-Roma students.

Slovakia has opportunities to strengthen the skills of its youth by:

  • Increasing enrolment in pre-primary education, especially among vulnerable groups.

  • Supporting schools and teachers in their work with vulnerable students.

  • Building a strong teaching workforce.

Priority 2: Reducing skills imbalances (Chapter 3)

Skills imbalances are costly for individuals, firms and the economy as a whole as they lead to lower investment and lower overall productivity.

Slovakia experiences shortages both among higher- and lower-skilled occupations. There are also strong skills mismatches among younger workers and tertiary educated workers. The low responsiveness of the secondary vocational education and training (VET) and tertiary education system have contributed to skills shortages and skills mismatches, whereas emigration and brain drain have been major drivers behind shortages.

Slovakia has opportunities to reduce skills imbalances by:

  • Improving the dissemination of information on labour market and skills needs.

  • Strengthening the responsiveness of students and their families to labour market needs.

  • Strengthening the responsiveness of secondary VET and tertiary education institutions to labour market needs.

  • Moving from “brain drain” to “brain gain”.

Priority 3: Fostering greater participation in adult learning (Chapter 4)

Adult learning is particularly important for Slovakia. The Slovak economy is strong and catching up with higher-income countries. Employment and wages are growing and the unemployment rate is historically low. Nonetheless, Slovak production and exports are concentrated in a small number of manufacturing industries and the risk of job automation is particularly high.

In this context, adult learning is, and will continue being, essential for boosting the skills of adults, and can generate a range of personal, economic and social benefits. More effective adult education and training will be needed to maintain or increase the level of skills to keep pace with these rapidly changing conditions.

Slovakia has opportunities to foster greater participation in adult learning by:

  • Improving the governance of adult learning.

  • Increasing participation among adults out of work.

  • Supporting the capacity of employees and firms to engage in adult learning.

Priority 4: Strengthening the use of skills in the workplace (Chapter 5)

There has recently been growing awareness that how well employers use skills in the workplace may be just as important as the skills their workers possess.

The skills of adults are not used to their full potential in Slovakia, and the use of most types of employees’ information processing, job-specific and generic skills could be intensified. The use of reading skills at work in Slovakia is below the OECD average, while the average literacy proficiency of adults is above average, and the use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) skills could be strengthened. Despite the strong link found between the intensive use of skills and the adoption of high performance workplace practices (HPWP), such as flexibility in the workplace or teamwork, Slovak firms are adopting HPWP at a lower rate than their counterparts in most other countries.

Slovakia has opportunities to strengthen the use of skills in the workplace by:

  • Creating the conditions to facilitate the adoption of HPWP in Slovak firms.

  • Providing incentives and support to Slovak firms for the adoption of HPWP.

  • Enhancing the governance of policies and strategies that affect skills use.


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