2. Guidance on developing Latvia’s EDG and selecting EDG policy actions

Latvia’s Education Development Guidelines (EDG) aims to help Latvia achieve its economic and social development goals and commitments. It is a strategic document that lays out what Latvia wants to achieve in the medium term by describing the policy actions specific to education and skills that Latvia plans to take to achieve its policy objectives. The benefits of a well-defined EDG include providing clarity about what needs to be done by whom and by when, aligning policy actions with policy objectives, co-ordinating contributions from various actors to implement policy actions and achieve policy objectives, communicating the priorities, and holding all relevant actors accountable for implementing the policy actions and achieving the policy objectives.

This chapter provides guidance on developing Latvia’s EDG and selecting relevant policy actions based on international good practice. It is organised as follows:

  • Section 2 describes the elements of an effective process for identifying policy actions for the EDG.

  • Section 3 analyses the implications of megatrends and the recent COVID-19 pandemic for the identification of policy actions for Latvia’s EDG.

  • Section 4 proposes policy actions for inclusion in Latvia’s EDG.

  • Section 5 makes suggestions for how Latvia could further develop its EDG.

  • Section 6 provides a summary of the chapter and its recommendations.

Relevant country examples have been provided from Canada, Estonia, Finland, Flanders (Belgium), France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Singapore, Sweden and the United States. Latvia should examine the best practice of other countries and select what works best for its own national needs.

The EDG is a strategic document that lays out what Latvia wants to achieve in the medium term. Developing a framework such as the EDG allows a country to be proactive and ambitious about its future, and makes it more likely that desired outcomes will be achieved.

The core of the EDG framework is its policy actions. These are the specific policies designed and implemented to achieve the overarching policy objectives, which are the main strategic goals that the government identifies in the EDG. The policy actions could be specific to one level of education, ranging from early childhood education and care (ECEC) to adult learning. They could also be at a system level, such as the improvement of an education quality monitoring system or the effective management of financial resources for education.

Clear policy actions can be selected by: 1) employing a robust framework for selecting policy actions; and 2) engaging all relevant stakeholders in the process of selecting policy objectives and actions. A brief description of each element is discussed below, along with some of the methodologies that can be used, relevant country examples and how these are relevant for Latvia’s EDG.

Selecting clear policy actions requires a robust framework, which serves to clarify the relationships between the various strategy elements (e.g. policy objectives and policy actions) and provides a rationale for their inclusion in the strategy. Determining the policy actions for the policy objectives can be difficult as the actors involved may have competing interests. A robust framework can facilitate the deliberation and negotiation process regarding which policy actions to select. A robust framework has three key characteristics.

  1. 1. It takes into account the policy context to support an evidence-based discussion and identification of EDG policy actions. The policy context refers to the socio-economic context in which the policies are implemented (see Section 3 for more information on Latvia’s policy context). As there will inevitably be changes in the policy context in the future, any assumptions about the future should be made explicit and plans should be made for how the EDG will be adjusted in response to potential changes in the context.

  2. 2. It supports the identification of concrete policy actions that are capable of delivering on the policy objectives. Unless there is a clear link between the proposed policy actions and objectives, proposed policy actions should not be included. A robust framework facilitates the process of organising the various policy actions and policy objectives in a logical and coherent structure. This is important to avoid any unnecessary duplications, overlaps and contradictions among policy actions and policy objectives.

  3. 3. It supports consideration of the feasibility of the proposed policy actions. Policy actions require a variety of resources to implement. These resources include the capacity of actors to implement the policy actions. Capacity may refer to having the relevant resources, such as funding, experience, expertise and networks to implement policy actions. If proposed actions are less feasible, they may be downgraded or discarded. However, there may be occasions when a proposed policy action, while relatively low in feasibility could still be considered a priority due to the likely significant impact and contribution to achieving an important policy objective.

In the development of the EDG and the process of selecting policy actions, it is useful to use a robust framework for identifying, prioritising and organising the various policy actions. This will make it more likely that the final EDG document is clear, coherent and logical. When multiple actors are involved in creating the EDG there is the danger that it will become an incoherent collection of various suggestions that are not actionable. A robust framework can guide discussions and provide transparent criteria for why some policy objectives and actions are included while others are not. Latvia could consider the following methodologies in applying a robust framework to the development of the EDG and selecting policy actions:

  • Problem tree analysis: This approach analyses an existing situation by identifying the major problems and their main causal relationships. The output of the analysis is a graphical representation of problems, their causes (reasons behind the problem) and their effects (consequences of the problem). The problem tree is then used to identify relevant policy actions. The result of this exercise is a graphical chart that shows the possible policy actions to achieve the objectives of the strategy. This is an interactive exercise that involves brainstorming sessions with all relevant actors. The quality of the exercise result depends on the expertise of the people involved (UNESCO-IIEP, 2010[1]).

  • Logical framework (also known as a logframe) matrix: The logframe summarises the strategy with detailed information on four elements: overall objective (impact), purpose (outcome), results (outputs) and activities (inputs). Each of the four elements is further described with indicators/targets, sources of verification and assumptions. This provides a structured and systematic approach for organising the different elements of a strategy. For the individuals involved in the creation of this matrix it is important that there is common understanding about the terminology being used (UNESCO-IIEP, 2010[1]; World Bank, 2005[2]; European Commission, 2004[3]).

  • Feasibility testing: This approach ensures that the selected policy actions are realistic, with feasibility examined within three dimensions: 1) management feasibility refers to the extent to which the implementation of what is being proposed is efficiently ensured by the management; 2) socio-cultural feasibility refers to the extent to which proposed actions are supported by the main stakeholders (e.g. teachers, parents); and 3) financial feasibility refers to the extent to which the estimated costs of what is being proposed are compatible with the expected available financial resources. When proposed actions are not feasible in more than one of these dimensions, they require more effort to be implemented (UNESCO-IIEP, 2010[1]).

There are various approaches that countries have followed in developing a framework. While Latvia has to develop its own framework based on its specific needs, other country examples may offer some relevant insights.

Flanders (Belgium) has worked closely with the OECD in an OECD Skills Strategy project to assess its skills system and develop recommendations, which culminated in the launch of the OECD Skills Strategy Flanders report on 21 January 2019 (OECD, 2019[4]). Based on the available evidence from this report, Flanders has been in the process of developing an implementation plan to strengthen its lifelong learning system. From November 2019 to March 2020, an additional 112 interviews with stakeholders were conducted to gather further feedback for developing the implementation plan. The framework for this plan consists of four challenges and 10assignments (Table 2.1). These will be further developed in the second half of 2020 during working groups, focus groups and expert consultations, and then submitted as a proposal for the Flemish Parliament to consider in December 2020.

In June 2019, Germany launched the strategy paper of the national skills strategy, which was developed in collaboration with 17 key actors from across ministries, levels of government and a variety of stakeholders. The main challenge the strategy identifies is that the accelerating structural and sectoral change, especially the digital transformation of the economy, is causing far-reaching changes to the world of work. It outlines how Germany can improve the provision of continuing education and training to upgrade the skills of its workforce and meet the changing demands of the workplace. The strategy consists of 10 policy objectives and 70 policy actions (Table 2.2). Each policy objective has between 4 and 11 policy actions, and each policy action clearly identifies the responsible actors. The strategy is currently being implemented and will be reviewed in 2021 with the publication of a report. It may also be updated at this time.

Developing clear policy actions is a process that should include all relevant stakeholders (OECD, 2016[7]; OECD, 2020[8]). Engaging stakeholders in this process has a number of benefits. When stakeholders participate in the development of policy actions they have a greater sense of ownership and are more likely to contribute to implementing them, leading to a higher likelihood of successful implementation (Viennet and Pont, 2017[9]; OECD, 2019[10]). This raises the legitimacy of the policy actions and helps to ensure that all involved actors are motivated and committed to contribute to the policy actions. Stakeholders can also offer many valuable insights and sectoral knowledge that are relevant for the identification of policy actions (OECD, 2019[10]). Engaging stakeholders from the beginning is also an effective communication strategy to inform all relevant actors about the policy actions and to foster consensus about what needs to be achieved (Viennet and Pont, 2017[9]; OECD, 2019[10]).

Engaging stakeholders is a complex task and requires a balanced approach. While the benefits previously described are significant, there also some trade-offs to keep in mind. The more stakeholders are engaged, the more diverse and diverging the interests can be, which can add to the complexity of consultation efforts and result in more effort and time spent reaching an agreement about what the policy actions should be and how to prioritise them. This may bring about a higher administrative burden, a delay in the process and consultation fatigue (OECD, 2020[8]).

In order to manage the stakeholder engagement process effectively, it is necessary to prioritise stakeholders and to use different stakeholder engagement methods depending on the stakeholders’ characteristics. Engaging all stakeholders equally and with the same intensity is neither effective nor practical given the time and resource constraints. Not all stakeholders have the same need for engagement, as the relative importance of a particular stakeholder may vary based on the specific policy at hand. Broadly speaking, there are three levels of engagement, each with an increasing level of effort required. At the “informing” level, information would be disseminated to stakeholders about a process or decision in order to abate concerns and encourage stakeholders to relate to an issue and take action. At the “consulting” level, stakeholders would be invited to provide input on the design of policies. At the “engagement’ level, stakeholders would be given opportunities to discuss and propose ideas for policy implementation, with commitment to frame issues together and to respect recommendations. A large number of stakeholders could be informed, a smaller number of stakeholders could be regularly consulted and a smaller number still could be continuously engaged through formal engagement bodies. Prioritisation of stakeholders could be done through a mapping exercise that categorises stakeholders based on their importance for policy design and implementation, as well as other attributes such as legitimacy, interest, power and urgency.

Stakeholder engagement mapping can be accomplished through the application of various methodologies, which include:

  • Salience analysis: Stakeholders are mapped in a Venn-diagram with three main categories: power, legitimacy and urgency. Power refers to how much influence they have in the success of the policy due to physical (coercive), material and normative (prestige, social pressure) means. Legitimacy is about how much claim they have at stake in terms of what is at risk for them and any other legal, contractual, moral or financial claims. Urgency refers to the degree to which stakeholder claims call for immediate attention taking into account not just time-sensitivity, but also the importance of the relationship. The more a stakeholder has these attributes, the higher their salience (Mitchell, Agle and Wood, 1997[11]).

  • Power-interest analysis: Stakeholders are mapped in a quadrant depending on their interest and power. Interest is defined as the extent of their concern for a specific policy, while power is how much influence they have in the success of the policy. Stakeholders with high power and high interest are key players and should be engaged more intensively. Stakeholders with high power but low interest should be engaged but not involved in all the details on a frequent basis. Stakeholders with low power but high interest should be kept informed about progress and changes. Stakeholders with low power and low interest should be considered but require only minimal efforts at engagement (Bryson, 1995[12]).

  • Business process management: Stakeholders are individually characterised by their power both in the present and after implementation to influence the project and other stakeholders. The view of the project in terms of their interest and what’s in it for the stakeholder are also recorded (Jeston and Nelis, 2008[13]).

For the development and later implementation of the EDG, Latvia could identify which stakeholders need to be engaged and to what level. Mapping exercises like the ones described above are tools that Latvia could explore. The effectiveness of stakeholder engagement will affect the level of ownership of the EDG among stakeholders and the extent to which stakeholders will contribute to its implementation.

The Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy for 2014-2020 was developed as a result of an intensive, open discussion and consultation process with a variety of stakeholders (Box 2.1). The Ministry of Education and Research initiated the project “Five Challenges in Estonian Education – Education Strategy for 2012-2020” during the period 2009-2011, in co-operation with civil society organisations, the Estonian Cooperation Assembly and the Estonian Education Forum. The starting point of the project was the establishment of a taskforce that included experts from education and the labour market who were responsible for compiling the current strategy, which was completed in 2013. During the development of the strategy, an advisory body was consulted, composed mainly of the same experts who had created the original document on the five challenges in Estonian education. The government officially approved the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy on 13 February 2014. In compiling the strategy, the results and written comments of discussions with different stakeholders were taken into account.

The effective development of stakeholder engagement also played a fundamental part in the development of Norway’s National Skills Strategy 2017-2021. The strategy development process began in 2013 when Norway participated in the OECD Skills Strategy Diagnostic Phase, which was followed by the Action Phase. During these phases, stakeholders played an integral part in informing the analysis of the key challenges and providing input to developing proposals for how they can be addressed. In order to identify which stakeholders to engage, a stakeholder mapping exercise was conducted (Box 2.1). The engagement was further formalised for the implementation phase of the National Skills Strategy through the formation of the Future Skills Needs Committee and the Skills Policy Council.

Latvia’s EDG development has also been an inclusive process that has engaged relevant actors from various ministries, levels of government and a variety of stakeholder groups, including trade unions, employers, sectoral training providers, education institutions, academics, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The engagement process, accompanied by the OECD through the Skills Strategy Latvia project, occurred during numerous workshops, focus groups and bilateral meetings (see Chapter 1). This process provided input to the development of the EDG and shaped the recommendations featured in the “OECD Skills Strategy Latvia: Assessment and Recommendations” report and this report. Aside from the stakeholder engagement activities organised as part of the OECD Skills Strategy Latvia project, the Ministry of Education and Science provided opportunities for negotiations and discussions in various topic related groups and events. A wide range of education stakeholders were also engaged during discussion forums organised by the Ministry of Education and Science in partnership with the Education, Culture and Science Committee of the Parliament of the Republic of Latvia, and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) advisory board.

Megatrends, including globalisation, technological progress, population ageing, migration and most recently the COVID-19 pandemic are combining to increase and transform the skills needed to thrive at work and in society. The skills that countries invest in developing and how they use them can help overcome the challenges that these trends pose for economic growth and social well-being, as well as help to take advantage of the opportunities many of these trends present for positively reshaping our world.

As Latvia prepares its EDG, reflecting on the skills implications of megatrends can support the country in identifying and prioritising policy actions that overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities these megatrends present. Some relevant reflections in this regard for each of the megatrends are presented below.

Globalisation is creating a more integrated world that is characterised by the expansion of global value chains (GVCs) and increased offshoring (OECD, 2017[17]; OECD, 2019[10]). This raises the complexity of today’s world, posing new challenges and providing new opportunities for individuals and firms. For some individuals, especially those with lower skill levels, this has meant job loss or income stagnation over the past decade. At the same time, firms are under pressure to change their traditional business models as competition intensifies globally, especially in capital and labour markets. Raising productivity is becoming an even more important leverage to sustain growth. However, participation in GVCs also provides new opportunities as individuals are able to offer and apply their skills internationally. Firms can engage in production processes they might have otherwise been unable to undertake on their own and participate in the global economy.

The extent to which individuals and firms can overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities of globalisation depends greatly on the level of skills that individuals possess (OECD, 2017[17]). Individuals need to have a broad set of skills that enable them to effectively continue developing their skills and adapt to changing circumstances. These skills include foundation skills (including literacy, numeracy and digital literacy); transversal cognitive and meta-cognitive skills (including complex problem solving, critical and creative thinking); professional, technical and specialised knowledge and skills; and social and emotional skills. When individuals have a mix of skills that is well aligned with the needs of the labour market, firms can raise their productivity, which makes them more competitive and allows them to specialise in advanced industries. Countries’ skills-related policies can shape their specialisation in GVCs and their opportunities to specialise in sophisticated industries, such as complex business services and high-tech manufacturing industries.

Globalisation is creating pressure for Latvia to boost its productivity. For this, strengthening skills outcomes is essential. Latvia’s economy is deeply integrated in international markets (Figure 2.1). As in all OECD countries, this integration has strongly affected the competitiveness and success of different economic sectors in Latvia, as well as the supply of jobs and demand for skills in the labour market (OECD, 2017[17]; OECD, 2019[18]). In recent years, despite increasing labour costs, Latvian exporters have remained competitive and continue to gain market share (OECD, 2019[19]). However, productivity growth has fallen since the global crisis of 2008/2009, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The gap in labour productivity remains larger than for other Baltic or Central European countries (Figure 2.2). The difficulty in hiring skilled personnel is one of the most significant impediments to firm growth and investment in Latvia. Poor access to appropriate skills restricts the capacity of Latvian firms to innovate, adopt advanced technologies and participate in GVCs, all of which are important for productivity growth. Improving skills matches and access to training for Latvia’s less productive SMEs will help to boost overall productivity and strengthen inclusive growth (OECD, 2019[19]; OECD, 2019[20]).

Latvia’s EDG should identify policy actions that help individuals develop relevant skills and reskill in the context of change, thereby enabling Latvian firms to seize the opportunities of participating in GVCs. This is especially relevant for SMEs, which, without government action, may struggle to boost productivity on their own.

Technological progress is posing new challenges and offering new opportunities (OECD, 2019[23]). The way individuals work, learn, communicate and consume is being transformed by technological progress, as digitalisation, artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and machine learning begin to reveal their full potential, and are increasingly used. Individuals, firms and countries that can harness this new wave of technological progress stand to benefit greatly as it enriches lives, boosts productivity and makes learning easier. However, those who do not have the capacity to tap into its power are at risk of being left far behind. Technological progress may also widen existing inequalities and create new ones, as some jobs disappear and some skills become obsolete. The COVID-19 pandemic, and its attendant confinement measures, has forced an exponential increase in the adoption of digital solutions in almost every aspect of society, including work, social life and education. The crisis the world is experiencing has further highlighted the possibilities that new technologies have to offer, but has also underlined the challenges that digitalisation and automation pose. Inequalities have been exacerbated due to existing digital divides and the general difficulty for individuals to adapt and succeed in a fast-changing society (OECD, 2020[24]; OECD, 2020[25]).

The adjustments that have been made to how we learn and work in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis has provided a glimpse into a not-so-distant future in which technologies, such as digital tools, are used pervasively. This vision of the future underscores the important role that skills will play in reducing the inequalities that may arise in a fast-changing world driven by technological progress. Without a broad range of skills, individuals are locked out of the benefits that technological progress can offer or are limited to its most elementary uses. In a context in which robots are taking on more and more routine tasks, displacing workers from some jobs, it is urgent for countries to develop the skills of workers whose jobs are at high risk of automation. The OECD estimates that across OECD countries, on average 14% of workers face a high risk of seeing their jobs automated, and another 32% face significant changes in their job tasks due to automation (Nedelkoska and Quintini, 2018[26]).

Latvia, more than some other countries across the OECD, needs to make the best use of new technologies to improve the productivity of its firms and sustain inclusive economic growth. It is projected that economic growth in Latvia will mainly come from the use of new technological processes, digitalisation (Industry 4.0 concept) and the optimisation of processes (OECD, 2019[19]), with the strongest job growth expected in high and medium-high technology sectors, such as information and communication, and occupations requiring high skill levels (see Figure 2.3).

Relatively few Latvian firms have adopted new technologies or introduced organisational improvements and more efficient production techniques (see Figure 2.4). In particular, Latvia lags considerably behind other OECD countries in the use of digital technologies (OECD, 2019[19]). Poor information and communications technology (ICT) skills and skills that complement ICT, such as advanced management, limit the capacity of Latvian firms to employ and make the best use of the latest digital technologies. Half of the population still lacks basic digital skills (European Commission, 2018[28]). In a context in which digitalisation and the adoption of new technologies will become increasingly important for economic and social success, investing in people’s skills is going to be a fundamental factor in reducing inequalities and ensuring equal opportunities for everyone (OECD, 2017[29]; OECD, 2019[20]).

In order for Latvia to address the challenges and fully take advantage of the opportunities offered by technological change, the EDG needs to emphasise the development of a broad range of skills, including digital and technical skills, in order to mitigate the inequalities that result from an unequal ability to use technology. It will also be key to incentivise and support the skills development of workers for medium-high and high technology sectors, where the largest job growth in Latvia is expected. Latvian firms need to be supported to adopt new technologies and introduce organisational improvements and more efficient production techniques. This is particularly relevant for SMEs.

Population ageing presents challenges and opportunities for the education and skills system. This occurs, when the dependency rate, which is the ratio of older people (aged 65+) over the working age population (aged 16-64), increases. Ageing societies face the challenge of improving workers’ productivity in order to sustain growth and ensure the sustainability of social care systems (OECD, 2019[10]; OECD, 2019[18]). Improving the skills of youth is a strategic objective of many governments attempting to boost productivity in the context of population ageing. At the same time, longer lives and better health in older age imply that older workers can stay in the labour market for longer, provided they have adequate incentives and support. For this cohort there is a need to provide adequate opportunities to reskill and upskill to ensure that they can continue to contribute to the economy. The needs of a growing elderly population are also leading to the expansion of sectors related to healthcare and social support, which are difficult to automate given that they require social and interpersonal skills. This is reshaping the occupational structure of the economy and, by extension, its skills needs.

An ageing population in Latvia means that the working-age population has been declining (Figure 2.5) and is expected to continue to decline in the medium and long term, with rural and poorer regions most affected. This declining working-age population, which is further exacerbated by emigration, contributes to both labour shortages and skills shortages in Latvia. Skills shortages are concentrated in urban areas, particularly the Riga region where 80% of all job vacancies are located. While shortages are currently evident in high-skilled/cognitive occupations, by 2025 shortages are projected to be most severe in occupations that require a vocational secondary education, including those in engineering and manufacturing, and the construction and processing sectors. Shortages are also projected in certain occupations that require a higher education level, particularly those in STEM and health and social welfare (OECD, 2019[20]). While the economic downturn Latvia is experiencing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis may lessen labour and skills shortage pressures in the short run, Latvia must continue to address the features of its education and skills system that give rise to these imbalances to ensure that they do not impede growth in the recovery.

The ageing population also has significant implications for the education system. Schools in rural regions are characterised by a small and decreasing number of students. This is increasing the pressure on rural schools to remain efficient, attract talented teachers and have access to enough funding to hire support personnel for students with special needs. Municipalities across Latvia have varying levels of resources to support their schools due to differences in per capita tax revenues. In Riga, income tax revenues are three times higher than in some rural municipalities. The highly decentralised nature of the Latvian education and skills system, combined with the diverse resources available across municipalities, is causing concerns over the quality and equity of skills development opportunities across Latvia (OECD, 2019[20]).

The teaching workforce is also ageing. In primary and secondary education, the average age of teachers increased by three years between 2010 and 2016, and 46% of teachers are over 50 years old, compared to an OECD average of 34% (OECD, 2019[30]). As the government has been introducing a new competency-based curriculum since September 2019, starting with pre-school education, it will be key for Latvia to recruit and train the best candidates and upskill the existing teaching workforce to ensure that implementation is successful.

Latvia’s EDG should identify policy objectives and actions that help to address the challenges and opportunities posed by the ageing population. Efforts are needed to support older cohorts in reskilling and upskilling opportunities so that they can remain active and productive. Given the shrinking student population, ongoing school consolidation efforts will be critical in establishing and operating an efficient school network. The ageing teaching workforce means that Latvia has a unique opportunity to replenish its teaching workforce by making the teaching profession more attractive and selective, and by attracting and retaining the best and most suitable candidates for the future.

Increased mobility has made it possible to attract talent where it is most needed, and countries are competing for high-skilled migrants to contribute to their economic growth (OECD, 2019[18]). However, this requires proactive migration policies that attract migrants, especially in areas where there are shortages. To capture the benefits from migration it is essential for countries to foster the process of integrating migrants into the education and skills system and the labour market. This means, for example, providing access to language courses and improving the recognition of qualifications and competences. Emigration could, however, cause or exacerbate skills shortages in the labour market. The current COVID-19 pandemic is severely disrupting global mobility, and migration flows are negatively affected for now and the foreseeable future.

Emigration remains the main factor behind Latvia’s shrinking population (OECD, 2019[19]). Between 2008 and 2017, about 260 000 people emigrated from Latvia, amounting to 13.5% of the population in 2017. The emigration flow peaked in 2009 and 2010, when Latvia lost just under 2% of its population each year. In 2017 more than 80% of emigrants were of working age, and more than half were aged between 20 and 39, according to the data by the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia. The pace of emigration has stabilised since 2014 to 19 000 people per year. Emigrants are overall less skilled than permanent residents. Nevertheless, 20% of emigrants had higher education attainment in 2016, implying a sizable brain drain. Negative net migration has slightly decreased since 2011 (see Figure 2.6, Panel B), both due to a reduction in emigration and an increase in immigration (Latvian Ministry of Economics, 2018[27]).

Low wages for employees with higher education degrees create strong incentives for emigration, as skilled workers can reap a higher return for their skills investment by leaving the country. Latvia has the highest share of low-wage employment (defined as two-thirds of the median gross hourly earnings) among EU countries. Employees without a higher education degree have a higher risk of being in low-wage employment. Over the long term, high-skilled emigration dampens productivity and growth. The loss of many highly-educated workers can reduce the productivity of the economy as a whole, which leads to lower wages for everyone (Elsner, 2015[32]). These productivity effects are particularly strong in small countries like Latvia, and are caused by a number of factors such as fewer opportunities for knowledge transfer, lost return on public training investment, poor substitutability of high-skilled and low-skilled workers, and reduced opportunities to achieve economies of scale in skill-intensive activities (World Bank, 2005[2]).

The challenges posed by migration should be addressed either directly by the EDG or indirectly in co-ordination with other national strategies, such as the National Development Plan. Migration policies targeting immigrants should support access to language courses and enable the recognition of foreign qualifications and competences so that immigrants can fully participate in the labour market. Migration policies aimed at reducing emigration should improve overall job quality in all occupations, but particularly in high-demand occupations. Job quality improvements would make Latvia a more attractive place to work for high-skilled workers and may even incentivise high-skilled Latvian workers to return and attract other skilled workers from abroad. Better job quality would mean improving wages and working conditions. To support sustainable wage growth, efforts are needed on the demand side to boost productivity growth, including by moving up global value chains and improving the use of skills in the workplace. Improving access to social protections would also help to improve working conditions (OECD, 2019[20]).

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is not only a global health emergency, but also one of the worst economic, financial and social shocks of the last two centuries (OECD, 2020[25]). The stringent containment measures needed to slow the spread of the pandemic have resulted in significant declines in GDP for many countries. Containment measures have led to many businesses shutting down temporarily or going out of business completely, widespread restrictions on travel and mobility, financial market turmoil, and an erosion of confidence and heighted uncertainty.

The crisis has transformed into an economic and labour market shock that has impacted both supply by halting the production of good and services, and demand by reducing consumption and investment (OECD, 2020[33]). Disruptions to production, initially in Asia, have now spread to supply chains across the world. All businesses, regardless of size, are facing serious challenges, especially those in the aviation, retail, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and hospitality industries, where there is a real threat of significant declines in revenue, insolvencies and job losses. Given the current environment of uncertainty and fear, firms are delaying investments, purchases of goods and the hiring of workers. Consumers in many economies are unable or reluctant to purchase goods and services, and sustaining business operations is increasingly difficult, especially for SMEs.

The OECD estimates that the initial direct impact of the confinement measures could be a decline in the level of output of between one-fifth to one-quarter in many economies (OECD, 2020[34]). In Latvia, there is an expectation of a significant decline in GDP for 2020. According to the Bank of Latvia, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has caused a sizeable decline in global market sentiment1 as well as significant business disruptions, which will determine a significant recession in the country. Contrary to initial estimates of a 2.5% growth rate provided in late 2019, the Bank of Latvia has revised its GDP forecast and now expects a severe economic recession, the extent of which will be determined by the development of the health crisis and the extent of restriction measures adopted globally (Latvijas Banka, 2020[35]). In a continuously changing environment it is extremely difficult to quantify the exact magnitude of the impact of these measures on economies, but it is certain that countries will be facing the difficult consequences of the crisis for years to come.

In order to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, countries across the OECD need to plan and implement large-scale policy responses to stimulate economic recovery (OECD, 2020[25]). The extent and speed of the recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak in Latvia, as well as in other countries, will greatly depend on the effectiveness of its recovery strategies and the ability of the government to support workers and businesses negatively affected by the crisis. Government intervention must align stimulus packages with investment in the resilience of the economy and social structure, improving preparedness for future shocks.

Skills policies are an essential component of such an exit strategy. Skills can have a positive impact on economic recovery through increasing productivity, competitiveness and innovation (OECD, 2019[10]). A resilient and adaptable education and skills system could support countries to respond effectively to mitigate economic and social shocks. It could play a crucial role in stimulating economic recovery in the short term and help countries prepare for the future of work in the longer term.

No single policy can address the many challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. To face the challenges in the short term (i.e. ensuring an inclusive economic and social recovery) and long term (i.e. building a resilient and adaptable education and skills system), governments need to strengthen a broad range of policies. Latvia’s EDG 2021-2027 represents an important opportunity for the Latvian government to assess the challenges and adopt and plan a comprehensive and strategic approach to support the development of a resilient, inclusive and adaptable education and skills system.

The education system has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak (OECD, 2020[24]). Schools across the world have closed to ensure safety for students and teachers, and have adopted digital solutions to support distance learning. Despite the numerous technological solutions that continue to deliver quality education, the closure of schools is expected to have deep impacts on the lives of students and communities.

The COVID-19 outbreak has exposed weaknesses in the education system, such as the absence of broadband and computers needed for online education and the lack of teacher preparedness to use digital technologies for teaching activities and professional development. Data from the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) show that while many schools in Latvia are now equipped with at least the minimum technology needed for online learning, 41% of principals report a shortage or inadequacy of digital technologies for teaching. Some 77% of teachers had the “use of ICT for learning” included in recent professional development activities, but only 48% felt “well prepared” or “very well prepared” for the use of ICT for teaching, and 23% reported a high level of need for further professional development (Figure 2.7).

It is important to ensure that every learner can remain engaged. As education and skills systems shift towards digital learning and students move away from classrooms, existing digital divides and socio-economic differences might worsen the outcomes of students already at risk, which would exacerbate skills gaps. For example, socio-economically advantaged students are more likely to have parents with higher levels of digital skills who can support the learning of children who cannot attend school. Students from less advantaged families are less likely to have this support, meaning that they risk falling even further behind. In Latvia, around 7% of 15-year-old students do not even have a quiet place to study in their homes (OECD average 9%), as indicated by the latest data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (OECD, 2019[36]; OECD, 2020[37]).

Opportunities for learning might also be hindered due to the impending economic recession. The availability of work-based learning and apprenticeships for students might significantly decrease due to the inability of private companies to offer positions to learners. The latest reforms implemented by the Latvian government in vocational education and training (VET) schools significantly improved the adoption of work-based learning (WBL) in VET curricula, and recent efforts were exploring the potential for implementation at the higher education level (OECD, 2019[20]). Despite the availability of compensation for firms admitting a WBL student, difficulties in engaging private sector businesses emerged due to the high administrative burden and the requirement of no tax debt for firms engaging in the programme. These barriers might be reinforced by the coming economic crisis, as firms, especially SMEs, are expected to experience less financial and administrative flexibility. In order to sustain and continue the expansion of the WBL programmes, the government will likely need to rethink the incentives for firms’ financial participation and engagement.

While the current emergency facing education provision due to the pandemic requires the most immediate policy attention, Latvia should already be considering the significant opportunities and challenges for the education and skills system in the medium term when designing the EDG for 2021-2027. It is likely that some of the changes Latvia is experiencing today will persist in the future, and that new changes will emerge in time.

New skills opportunities might lie ahead. The need to study remotely may provide lessons about how to better harness technology to improve efficiency, quality and access. Teachers will have the chance to test out different digital learning solutions and learn how technology can (or cannot) be used to foster deeper student learning. Teachers need to be encouraged to think creatively about their role as facilitators of student learning, and how technology can support them in doing so (OECD, 2020[24]). The need to explore how students can learn in different places and at different times will deepen understanding of the potential of digital learning solutions to bring communities, homes and schools closer together. New tools designed to monitor and support students learning from home might be used in the future to engage students from disadvantaged backgrounds outside schools, monitoring the risk of exclusion more closely and improving schools’ engagement with the community. These lessons will be useful in Latvia as there are still significant gaps across urban and rural areas, and the use of technology could potentially reduce this gap.

Schools and learning institutions increasingly need to become learning organisations2 (OECD, 2018[38]). In rapidly changing environments, the ability of schools and institutions to quickly respond to the changing needs of society in developing skills for youth and adults will be a central aspect of the education and skills system. Investment in teacher professional development, collaborations with external actors – such as private companies, sectoral skills councils, higher education and research institutions – and investments in school leadership are ways of improving schools’ ability to provide youth and adults with the right skills to become effective lifelong learners.

However, new challenges might also emerge. The COVID-19 crisis is causing considerable and long-lasting changes in our economy and society. Even when the current health crisis is eventually contained, it is likely that significant changes will persist. The increased use of digital solutions to overcome social distancing requirements might speed up digitalisation, while the need for production processes to be more resilient to supply shocks might incentivise businesses to embrace automation and new technologies in their activities. As a consequence, new skills might be required in the labour market and in society in general. Given the high level of uncertainty and the fast-evolving context of today’s world, it is difficult to assess future skills needs with precision. Nonetheless, it is important to consider the potential implications for the EDG for 2021-2027.

Individuals will require more frequent updates and improvements to their set of skills. Adult learning will be a way to ensure that individuals form and maintain the required broad set of skills to adapt in a changing working environment and succeed in a dynamic society. A broad set of skills includes foundation skills; transversal cognitive and meta-cognitive skills; professional, technical, and specialised knowledge and skills; and social and emotional skills (see Box 1.1. in Chapter 1 for a definition of skills).

Using skills effectively in work and society could be a crucial element of Latvia’s education and skills policy response to COVID-19. Making the most of the available skills supply could bolster the economy, spur innovation, productivity and growth, and strengthen social cohesion, which should make it a vital part of any exit strategy after the COVID-19 pandemic (OECD, 2019[10]). As part of a forward-looking approach to skills policies, and with the aim of developing a resilient and adaptable education and skills system, the effective use of skills could support countries’ recovery and overall performance. In the short term this could be done by re-designing and transforming workplaces during the COVID-19 pandemic to stay healthy and in business. In the medium to long term this could be done by strengthening workplace practices that improve business performance after the pandemic and by reactivating workers through upskilling and reskilling.

After the pandemic, businesses will be confronted with a business environment that looks very different to before the pandemic. This could create a need for businesses to transform their workplaces in order to adapt to the new context. As a result, while the COVID-19 pandemic will be a major challenge for businesses in the short term, it could potentially create opportunities to improve business performance in the longer term. For instance, firms can take the opportunity presented by the prevalence of the under-utilisation of many skills of employees to reorganise their workplaces in ways that make fuller and better use of these skills to boost productivity growth, innovation and competitiveness, and thereby support job creation and economic recovery.

OECD research has shown that firm management practices, as well as the way work is organised and jobs are designed, can have a strong impact on how skills are used in the workplace (OECD, 2016[39]).

In this context, there is a role for government to support firms in adopting high performance workplace practices (HPWP), especially for SMEs and firms in struggling sectors (OECD, 2020[40]). Such HPWP include an emphasis on teamwork, autonomy, task discretion, mentoring, job and task rotation, and applying new learning. Firms should furthermore be supported to promote the skills development of their employees, invest resources in their employees’ reskilling and upskilling efforts, and assess for today as well as anticipate for the future the alignment between the skills of their workers and the needs of the firm. Practices such as teleworking that allow workers to manage their time more flexibly can positively affect skills utilisation and overall workplace performance. The penetration of teleworking practices in Latvia was calculated by the OECD at just 15% in 2015, compared to 25% on average across the OECD, and only 29.5% of workers use computers at work regularly (see Figure 2.8). Adults with lower levels of skills are less likely to be teleworking, which puts them at a further disadvantage (Espinoza and Reznikova, 2020[41]).

Latvia performs below the EU average in Eurofound’s measure of management quality, as well as in indicators of autonomy (the ability to set own working time arrangements, choose order of tasks, and choose working method). Strong and effective leadership and management is also associated with higher levels of employee engagement and greater willingness to invest effort in work, which becomes even more important when firms are facing their current challenges (Bloom et al., 2019[42]; UKCES, 2014[43]). As the majority of firms in Latvia are SMEs, which generally lag behind larger firms in terms of good management practices, they may need stronger incentives and more support to improve their managerial capabilities. Latvia should provide the management level with clear and accessible information on how to engage and empower the workforce in times of uncertainty, and give them additional support if needed, for instance through short-term courses.

Reactivating workers through reskilling and upskilling will also be fundamental to recovery. After the economic crisis of 2008, Latvia experienced a strong labour market, with low unemployment rates and increasing wages for employees. The unprecedented decline in output caused by the COVID-19 crisis will drastically increase unemployment and economic inactivity. In spite of the generous support measures offered by the government, some of the losses in employment and productive capacity could be long lasting. This means that there will likely be more jobseekers than available jobs for a considerable time, reversing the trend that has characterised the Latvian labour market in recent years. The anticipated economic downturn might incentivise Latvian workers to emigrate, as was the case during the 2008 financial crisis, which would further worsen skills mismatches in the labour market. Helping youth and adults to reskill and upskill will be crucial for retaining talent in Latvia and accelerating the recovery.

Latvia will need to support workers in need of reskilling and upskilling, and improve skills matches in the job market so that more people can relocate in a timely manner and use their skills more effectively, thus shortening the time of unemployment for workers. Significant challenges will include the financial sustainability of adult learning programmes in the medium and long term, and the capacity enhancement needed for education institutions to support every individual in need, regardless of age.

Latvia’s EDG needs to give consideration to actions that can help address the challenges posed by COVID-19 for society and the economy, including policies that support skills development and use. This means increasing access to broadband and computers needed for online education, preparing teachers to use digital technologies for teaching and their own professional development, providing financial incentives for firms affected by the crisis to continue to provide work-based learning opportunities, and promoting adult learning to allow individuals to upskill and reskill to adapt to a new environment. In order to ensure the effective use of skills, Latvia could implement measures supporting firms to stay in business and retain workers, promoting high performance workplace practices and workplace re-organisation to boost productivity and make workplaces safe, as well as improving worker reallocation processes that help workers transition from struggling to growing sectors. As COVID-19 has disproportionally negative effects on vulnerable groups, such as those with low socio-economic backgrounds and low skill levels, policy efforts should be targeted at these groups. Latvia’s EDG 2021-2027 represents an important opportunity for the Latvian government to adopt a comprehensive and strategic approach and support the development of a resilient, inclusive and adaptable education and skills system.

This section presents the OECD’s proposal of policy actions for inclusion in Latvia’s EDG framework. The OECD was specifically asked to participate in the process for identifying potential policy actions for the policy objectives, which were chosen by Latvia through internal consultations. Clarifying actors and timelines, and describing the funding implications were not discussed during these consultations as Latvia discussed these internally at a later stage.

In order to discuss relevant policy objectives and policy actions for Latvia’s EDG Framework, a series of workshops and focus groups were held in Riga in November 2019. The workshops convened representatives from various ministries and stakeholders (e.g. employers, education and training providers, trade unions, academics, and civil society organisations) to discuss and identify a set of policy objectives and policy actions relevant for Latvia’s EDG. While the OECD team delivered the opening keynote presentation in the workshop, based on the findings and recommendations of the 2019 OECD assessment and recommendations report, the discussions were facilitated by the Latvian project team and took place in working groups organised by level of education, ranging from early childhood education and care to adult learning. The reason for dividing the groups in this way was to make best use of the expertise and experience of participants who were often specialists and responsible for a specific level of education. The results from the workshops were then field tested with a broader group of stakeholders during focus groups, which were also organised by level of education and led by the OECD. As the findings from the workshops and focus groups were still preliminary at the time of writing, they are not featured in this report. Instead, the proposed policy actions based on the recommendations of the 2019 “OECD Skills Strategy Latvia Recommendations and Assessment” report are presented here, as these have been developed with a broad range of actors during the extensive engagement processes of Phase I of the OECD Skills Strategy project, and are based on an in-depth assessment of Latvia’s education and skills system. As the context significantly changed due to COVID-19 after Phase I was completed, further guidance from Phase II is provided as to how the proposed policy actions may be applicable in the current context. Phase II recommendations are complementary to the Phase I recommendations, and therefore the recommendations of both phases should be considered.

At the time of the consultations, the specific policy objectives were identified on a conceptual level and were further developed and discussed by the Ministry of Education and Science based on the input received during consultations with stakeholders, and taking into account the 2019 OECD assessment and recommendations report conclusions and recommendations. The four policy objectives identified as a result of the consultation process and further work from the Ministry of Education and Science are:

  1. 1. Highly qualified, competent and excellence-oriented teachers and academic staff.

  2. 2. Modern, high-quality and labour market oriented education.

  3. 3. Support for everyone’s achievement.

  4. 4. Sustainable and effective governance of education system and resources.

In line with how the consultations were organised, the policy objectives and policy actions are listed by level of education: 1) early childhood education and care (ECEC); 2) general education (primary to secondary education); 3) vocational education and training (VET); 4) higher education; and 5) adult learning.

For each level of education, a table shows for each objective the relevant OECD findings from the 2019 “OECD Skills Strategy Latvia: Assessment and Recommendations” report. Most, but not all, levels of education have relevant OECD assessments and recommendations for each policy objective, depending on whether the objective was covered in the report (OECD, 2019[20]). For simplicity and clarity of presentation, each OECD assessment and recommendation is associated with a single policy objective, but a recommendation may nevertheless be considered as relevant for multiple policy objectives.

The first years of life provide the foundations for an individual’s future attitudes, behaviours and skills, and support their future skills development. The Latvian government recognises that investment in high-quality ECEC pays dividends in terms of children’s long-term learning and development.

Columns 1 and 2 in Table 2.3 show a summary of the findings from the 2019 “OECD Skills Strategy Latvia: Assessment and Recommendations” report. As the context has significantly changed since the launch of the report due to the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, column 3 provides further complementary guidance on the policy actions that can respond to the pressures that the pandemic has generated. This is based on the recent OECD publications (www.oecd.org/education/) related to COVID-19 and education.

Strong skills developed in youth not only pave the way to success in higher education and the labour market, but also help foster a culture of lifelong learning that can make individuals more adaptable to future changes. Countries whose youth develop strong skills typically have highly skilled adult populations.

Columns 1 and 2 in Table 2.4 show a summary of the findings from the 2019 “OECD Skills Strategy Latvia: Assessment and Recommendations” report. As the context has significantly changed since the launch of the report due to the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, column 3 provides further complementary guidance on the policy actions that can respond to the pressures that the pandemic has generated. This is based on the recent OECD publications (www.oecd.org/education/) related to COVID-19 and education.

Improving the VET system has been a priority of government in recent years. As a response to skills imbalances in the labour market, the government wants to strengthen the sector’s prestige, increase student participation in VET and improve student outcomes.

Columns 1 and 2 in Table 2.5 show a summary of the findings from the 2019 “OECD Skills Strategy Latvia: Assessment and Recommendations” report. As the context has significantly changed since the launch of the report due to the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, column 3 provides further complementary guidance on the policy actions that can respond to the pressures that the pandemic has generated. This is based on the recent OECD publications (www.oecd.org/education/) related to COVID-19 and education.

Given the significant skills imbalances, and in particular a shortage of workers with a higher education to fill high-skilled jobs, improving higher education and making it more labour market relevant is a priority for the Latvian government. Recent initiatives include the restructuring of the university management system, strengthening of management capacity and strategy development, and the implementation of the new academic career model.

Columns 1 and 2 in Table 2.6 show a summary of the findings from the 2019 “OECD Skills Strategy Latvia: Assessment and Recommendations” report. As the context has significantly changed since the launch of the report due to the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, column 3 provides further complementary guidance on the policy actions that can respond to the pressures that the pandemic has generated. This is based on the recent OECD publications (www.oecd.org/education/) related to COVID-19 and education.

A strong culture of lifelong learning, particularly in adulthood, is essential for Latvia to boost the skills of its adults, and can generate a range of personal, economic and social benefits. Adult learning matters for Latvia, as the lack of productivity in workplaces, coupled with demographic trends, are exacerbating skills shortages, thus requiring workers to enhance their skills.

Columns 1 and 2 in Table 2.7 show a summary of the findings from the 2019 “OECD Skills Strategy Latvia: Assessment and Recommendations” report. As the context has significantly changed since the launch of the report due to the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, column 3 provides further complementary guidance on the policy actions that can respond to the pressures that the pandemic has generated. This is based on the recent OECD publications (www.oecd.org/education/) related to COVID-19 and education.

This section presents four actions Latvia should consider for further developing its EDG: 1) include policy actions at the system level; 2) define responsibilities and timelines; 3) identify funding implications; and 4) strengthen strategic planning. Each of these opportunities is discussed with relevant information on Latvia, practical suggestions of what could be done, relevant country examples and specific recommendations.

Although consultations on possible policy actions were structured by level of education, there are also policy actions that should be considered at the education and skills system level (i.e. those relevant across levels of education and learning). Such policy actions were not discussed in great depth during the workshops, largely due to the framing of discussions around distinct levels of education. However, given their importance to the whole education and skills system, policy actions at the system level should still be considered. The following are system-level assessments and recommendations from the 2019 “OECD Skills Strategy Latvia: Assessment and Recommendations” report, which Latvia should consider for inclusion in its EDG. They include strengthening oversight of skills policy; improving co-operation at different levels of government; building an integrated monitoring and information system; and raising, targeting and sharing investments in lifelong learning.

Effective oversight bodies are part of the “enabling conditions” to support a whole-of-government approach to skills policy, and are important for ensuring stakeholder engagement, integrated skills information and co-ordinated financing (OECD, 2019[20]).

Effective co-ordination between Latvia’s ministries, agencies, municipalities (novadi) and cities (pilsētas) will be essential for implementing lifelong learning policies and integrating skills and learning information. Such “whole-of-government” co-ordination is crucial to minimise overlaps and gaps in services, share experience and sectoral expertise, identify opportunities for partnerships, design complementary policies, and develop better processes for engaging with stakeholders. Effective stakeholder engagement can lead to better quality skills policy and lifelong learning services. Stakeholder engagement throughout the policy cycle helps to ensure that relevant actors in the private sector, such as trade unions, businesses and employer associations, are meaningfully involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of skills policies. Engaging stakeholders can improve policy relevance, flexibility and sustainability, as well as the effective implementation of policies (OECD, 2019[20]).

As education and skills systems evolve and become more complex, managing data and information becomes a key policy issue. Effective information systems are needed to collect and manage the data and information that governments and stakeholders produce, analyse and disseminate. This helps to ensure that policy makers, firms, individuals and others have access to accurate, timely, detailed and tailored information. Relevant data and information include the skill levels of individuals, the skills demanded by the labour market, skills needed in the future, as well as information on learning and training opportunities and their effectiveness (OECD, 2019[20]).

Governments, individuals and employers need to work together to share the costs of investing in lifelong learning; the government alone cannot shoulder these costs. However, certain individuals and firms are unlikely to invest in learning without government and or/sectoral support. The targeting and sharing of investment in lifelong learning is important for the sustainability and equity of lifelong learning financing in Latvia (OECD, 2019[20]).

Give consideration to policy actions that need to be taken at the system level in order to address challenges that affect the entire education and skills system and not just a specific level of education. Policy actions at the system level include efforts to strengthen oversight for skills policy; to improve co-operation across different levels of government; to build an integrated monitoring and information system; and to increase, better target and share investments in lifelong learning. These system level policy actions are required to strengthen the governance of the education and skills system and raise the effectiveness of all other policy actions.

In order for the EDG to achieve its policy objectives it needs to specify the actors responsible for individual policy actions and those who will be contributing to these efforts. The actors designated to lead efforts are given legitimacy, authority and responsibility to co-ordinate the efforts. The EDG should also specify the timeline for the actions and what intermediate milestones should be reached at what moment. This would hold relevant actors accountable for achieving milestones, allow for corrective action to be taken if they are not met, and contribute to reaching the policy objectives. A brief description of each element is discussed below, along with some of the methodologies that can be used, relevant country examples and how these are relevant for Latvia’s EDG.

By identifying and aligning actors to their corresponding responsibilities for specific policy actions the implementation of the EDG can be better co-ordinated and become more effective (Viennet and Pont, 2017[9]). Each policy action needs to clarify who is supposed to implement what and who is to be held accountable. Responsibilities should be allocated on the basis of the capacity and preparedness for taking responsibility for specific policy actions. Capacity includes resources such as funding, experience, expertise and networks (Malen, 2006[45]). Capacity and preparedness for implementing policy actions applies equally to government institutions and stakeholders.

In Latvia’s previous EDG 2014-2020, the actors were clearly defined in terms of the main responsible institution and any other participating institutions (Figure 2.9). For almost 80% of the 84 policy actions a single institution was designated as responsible. The responsible institution was most often the Ministry of Education and Science, followed by the National Centre for Education, the Council for Higher Education, the State Education Development Agency, the Latvian Language Agency, the State Service of Education Quality and the Agency of International Programmes for Youth. Around 20% of policy actions were assigned to multiple institutions, which were often a combination of the above. With more than one institution responsible for a policy action it is important to clarify the respective roles, how decisions regarding the implementation of the policy action are made and how disagreements are resolved. Without such clarity, sharing responsibility for a policy action can be challenging. A significant share of policy actions were also assigned to participating institutions such as other ministries and municipalities (36%), various stakeholders (6%) or a combination of both other ministries and municipalities as well as stakeholders (31%). While their names are mentioned in the EDG document, it is not clear what contributions participating institutions were asked to make regarding implementation of the policy action. Without specifying their respective contributions, it could be difficult to hold them accountable afterwards.

The number of responsible and participating institutions may vary depending on the complexity of the policy actions. Narrow and self-contained policy actions might only require one actor, while broad and cross-cutting policies may require the collaboration of a multitude of actors. When considering the number of responsible and participating institutions it is important to take into account any resulting trade-offs. Selecting too many actors might increase the amount of conflicting interests between actors, raise the complexity of the decision-making process in planning and implementing the policy actions, and slow down implementation, particularly if co-operation and collaboration between actors had already been lacking before the implementation of the policy action was initiated. However, selecting too few responsible actors may mean that not all parties with an influence on the desired outcome are held accountable, and may entail a lack of capacity to implement the policy action in a timely manner.

When allocating a specific policy action to actors it is also important to consider their disposition and level of support towards the policy action. Multiple actors may have to work together, and the (mis)alignment of their respective interests has an impact on whether the policy action will be implemented effectively (Spillane, Reiser and Reimer, 2002[47]). Competing interests may affect a policy’s implementation process by creating or exacerbating ongoing conflicts between actors. The deliberation and decision-making process of how to implement a policy action may create tensions. A clear and well-considered allocation of responsibilities has to take into account such possibilities, and should therefore clarify which actor is leading the efforts among various involved groups to implement a specific policy action.

In order to determine which actors should be responsible for and participate in certain policy actions for Latvia’s EDG 2021-2027, Latvia should consider the relative capacities of actors to implement the various policy actions. Analysing the capacity of actors for implementing policy actions, and therefore determining how to allocate those policy actions, can be done using various methodologies, for example:

  • Analysis of system capacity: Analyses the internal capacity within the government to effectively implement an education strategy. The analysis covers public financial management, competencies and qualifications of staff in relevant departments, capacity to respond to changing policy contexts, capacity to identify and engage stakeholders, and organisational aspects, such as the functioning of the education system at the national, regional and local level with respective roles and responsibilities for implementation (UNESCO-IIEP, 2010[1]).

  • Partners’ role matrix: Informs a dialogue with external relevant actors about the appropriate role that they should play in implementing an education strategy. The aim is to ensure ownership, mutual respect and collaborative efforts. The matrix is completed according to current roles and proposed roles. Relevant actors are largely divided into more active and more passive roles. While the tool was developed initially for capacity development planning, it could equally be applied to strategy planning in education and skills policies (European Commission, 2010[48]).

As Latvia develops its EDG it should carefully consider which actors should be given responsibility for which policy actions. The presented methodologies can support and inform such deliberations. Latvia should also consider how effective certain actors were in implementing policy actions in the previous EDG. In cases where policy actions were not effectively implemented, further analysis may be necessary to identify the reasons and the implications this may have for the new EDG. For example, if a lack of capacity was identified as the main reason for an actor not being able to implement a policy action, then further measures may be required to raise the capacity of that actor for the new EDG policy actions. If more than one institution is responsible for a policy action it is important to clarify the respective roles, how decisions regarding the implementation of the policy action are being made, and how disagreements are being resolved. The respective contributions of participating institutions should also be clarified to hold them accountable.

The experience in Estonia shows the importance of identifying clear responsibilities (see Box 2.1 in Section 2). In Estonia’s Lifelong Learning Strategy, several programmes and actors were responsible for the same goal, which led to a lack of clarity in terms of responsibility and an excessively long decision-making process. This challenge highlights the importance of assigning clear responsibilities and leadership roles.

Having a clear timeline is another crucial factor for the successful implementation of policy actions and to achieve the policy objectives. By setting a clear timeline the government sets the pace and expectations for all actors to implement the policy actions. Time constraints can determine to a large extent the success of implementation (Viennet and Pont, 2017[9]).

The previous EDG 2014-2020 differentiated timelines for its 84 policy actions. While almost 80% of policy actions had target goals for 2020, there were a number of policy actions with target goals between 2015 and 2019 (Figure 2.10). A separate implementation plan also existed for the first three years with detailed policy actions and deadlines. Some of the policy actions were scheduled to begin later in 2015, and others were planned to continue beyond 2020. However, it was not always clear in the EDG why certain policy actions were scheduled at different times. If single actors are responsible for multiple policy actions and have limited capacity for implementation, a large share of policy actions due in 2020 may have exerted a lot of pressure towards the end of the EDG. Further differentiating the timeline of policy actions and providing a clear explanation is something Latvia should consider for its new EDG.

When planning the timeline for the EDG, balance needs to be given to quick solutions to urgent policy needs that can generate immediate political wins and generate reaction for the strategy, and implementing complex policies that may take years to show results but have a more profound and lasting impact.

When the timeline is shorter than ideal, this may limit the ability of actors to organise themselves and co-ordinate policy responses, which may negatively affect the effectiveness of the implementation. It may also mean that not all relevant information has yet been collected to inform and guide the implementation process. When the timeline is longer than ideal, this may unnecessarily consume many more resources or could result in policy efforts losing momentum. Finding the right balance is challenging and depends to a large degree on the level of ownership and willingness of involved actors, as well as their respective capacities to implement the policy action (Haddad and Demsky, 1995[49]).

Given that efforts required for implementation vary across policy actions, it may be necessary to have a differentiated timeline that distinguishes between short-term and long-term policy actions. This could provide the necessary flexibility to allocate the time required for different policy actions. A single timeline for all policy actions could exert unrealistic pressure on policy actions that might need more time, and be insufficiently time bound for policy actions that could be implemented more quickly. A differentiated timeline would also make it possible to consider sequencing policy actions that may have to follow another action.

There are various tools that can be used to set timelines. While many of these tools are common in the private sector, they are also increasingly being used in the public sector for policy planning and implementation purposes. These tools include:

  • Work breakdown structure: This approach breaks the policy action into smaller tasks and provides guidance on the schedule to implement the tasks. Tasks must be measurable and independent, with clearly defined limits. This structure defines and organises the required tasks by identifying, assigning and tracking each one. Required funds are also determined (US Department of Energy, 2003[50]).

  • Gantt chart: This gives a graphic representation of the different activities to be completed for specific tasks of a policy action. It provides the estimated time for a task and is modelled by a horizontal bar, the left end of which is positioned on the intended start date and the right end on the intended end date. Tasks can be placed in sequential chains or carried out simultaneously (UNESCO-IIEP, 2010[51]).

  • Critical path method: This is an algorithm for scheduling a set of policy action tasks. A critical path is determined by identifying the longest stretch of dependent tasks and measuring the time required to complete them from start to finish. By finding ways to shorten tasks along the critical path, the overall project time be reduced (Levy, Thompson and Wiest, 1963[52]).

Latvia may wish to explore using some of these tools to plan the policy actions in the EDG and to consider how to set an appropriate timeline. Since the level of ownership and willingness, as well as the level of capacity, play a role in determining actors’ ability to implement policies within a certain timeframe, it will be important to engage with those actors so that they can inform the decision-making process of setting timelines. If single actors are responsible for multiple policy actions and have limited capacity for implementation, it may also help to sequence policy actions more with differentiated timelines in order to lessen the pressure of many policy actions being due at the same time.

In order to set a timeline for each of the policy actions, Latvia may wish to consider the Irish National Skills Strategy 2025, which clearly identifies what each actor is to achieve by when, as well as the targets for measuring their achievements (Box 2.2).

Identify the responsible actors for a policy action based on their capacity and disposition towards supporting the policy action and collaborating in its implementation. The capacity for taking responsibility for specific policy actions refers to governmental and stakeholder actors having the relevant resources, such as funding, experience, expertise and networks, to implement policy actions. In selecting the relevant actors for a specific policy action, consideration needs to be given to identifying actors who collectively have both sufficient capacity to implement the policy action and who have a favourable disposition towards supporting the policy action and collaborating in its implementation. It is also important to ensure that the number of responsible actors is not so large as to unnecessarily slow down implementation. Latvia should consider how effective certain actors were in implementing policy actions in the previous EDG. In cases where policy actions were not effectively implemented, further analysis may be necessary to identify the reasons why, and what implications this may have for the new EDG. For example, if a lack of capacity was identified as the main reason for an actor not being able to implement a policy action, then further measures may be required to raise the capacity of that actor for the new EDG policy actions. If more than one institution is responsible for a policy action, it is important to clearly specify their respective roles, how decisions regarding the implementation of the policy action are being made, and how disagreements are to be resolved. The respective contributions of participating institutions should also be clarified to hold them accountable.

Create a timeline that distinguishes between short-term and long-term policy actions. Such a timeline reflects the different time required to implement different policy actions, but also allows actors to track and demonstrate progress. The timelines should be determined by assessing the capacities of actors to implement the policy action, as this influences how much time would be needed. If a single actor is responsible for multiple policy actions and has limited capacity for implementation, it may also help to sequence these actions over time to lessen the pressure.

The EDG should describe the funding implications of the proposed policy actions, and where the funding is coming from. The implementation of each policy action requires the allocation of sufficient funding. The necessary financing can be determined by a number of different factors, discussed below, which need to be taken into account when calculating the estimates. Once the necessary funding has been calculated, adequate funding sources need to be identified. Funding for education and skills policies can be diverse, ranging from the government, employers, individuals and international partner organisations.

The funding implications can be described by: 1) estimating the cost of each policy action; and 2) identifying the source(s) of funding. A brief description of each element is discussed below, along with some of the methodologies that can be used, relevant country examples and how these are relevant for Latvia’s EDG.

The implementation of each policy action requires the allocation of sufficient funding. The funding allocation process needs to take into consideration multiple aspects, such as the total amount needed for a policy action, as well as the period of time over which it has to be allocated. When the implementation of policy actions is delegated from the national to the subnational level, or from government to semi-public or private actors, it is important to provide these delegated actors with sufficient funding to match their responsibilities (OECD, 2020[8]). If the allocated funding is insufficient, it could jeopardise the effective implementation of the policy actions and make reaching the policy objectives difficult (OECD and Wurzburg, 2010[54]; OECD, 2010[55]). However, if the allocated funding is excessive, this may mean wasted resources that could be used for other policy actions

The required funding for policy actions can be categorised as either variable or fixed costs. Variable costs are expenses that vary according to the volume of outputs, activities and services provided (e.g. materials, communication costs, training costs). Fixed costs are constant and do not vary according to the volume of the given activity (e.g. office rents, utilities and overheads). When the required funding for a policy action is being calculated, it is more important to be clear about what variable costs will occur as they usually constitute an additional financial burden to the existing budget (Vági and Rimkute, 2018[56]).

The required amount of funding for a policy action is determined by a number of factors, such as the complexity of the policy action and the required input. The ability of the responsible actor(s) to efficiently use the funding also affects the costs. There may also be external circumstances (e.g. recession) that can affect costs. Any cost estimates are therefore based on past data and some assumptions about the future (Vági and Rimkute, 2018[56]).

Estimating the funding required for each policy action can be accomplished via various methodologies, for example:

  • Bottom-up costing (engineering approach): This is based on a detailed analysis of resource requirements and their costs to determine the estimated cost of a project or programme. This requires the breaking down of a project or programme into its smallest components (e.g. activities or actions). Resource requirements (e.g. labour, materials, infrastructure needs) and their respective costs are estimated at this lowest level. Cost is calculated by multiplying quantities of resources by their unit cost. The total estimate is built by summing up detailed estimates, calculated at lower levels (Vági and Rimkute, 2018[56]).

  • Top-down costing (parametric costing): This is estimated based on past costs of similar programmes. The similarity may be determined by a programme’s volume, scope or complexity (e.g. number of participants and institutions, geographic coverage, complexity of training). It is important to identify the characteristics that most influence or drive the programme cost (e.g. the number of training interventions directly affects the cost of programme, but the complexity of training may not be relevant). The assumption is that the same factors that affected cost in the past will continue to affect future costs (Vági and Rimkute, 2018[56]).

  • Analogy costing: This is based on the assumption that new programmes are evolved from those already implemented, but have different features or components. The costs of new programmes are therefore estimated based on actual costs of a similar programme, with adjustments to account for differences between the requirements. For example, if the previous project amounting to EUR 1 million involved the construction of a 500 m2 school building and the new project will involve the construction of similar school building of an area of 800 m2, the cost of the new project can be roughly estimated as: EUR 1 million / 500 x 800 = EUR 1.6 million, assuming a linear relationship between the projects (Vági and Rimkute, 2018[56]).

  • Simulations based approach: The Simulation for Education (SimuED) and its predecessor, Education Policy and Strategy Simulation (EPSSim), are tools that allow policy makers to make simulations about various scenarios and plan accordingly. The simulations are run with data on the school-age population, enrolment rates, graduation rates, teacher numbers, infrastructure, materials, and macroeconomic and budgetary data to calculate educational expenditures and provide different cost scenarios for alternative scenarios in the future (UNESCO, 2020[57]; UNESCO, 2005[58]).

Latvia can draw upon these various methodologies when budgeting for the individual policy actions of the EDG. These funding discussions may also impact which policy actions Latvia will prioritise. For example, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and a constrained budget, funding could be reallocated from a lower priority policy action to a higher priority action. Lower priority actions could also be eliminated or reduced in scope. These deliberations may also result in a sequencing of the policy actions, so that the cost is spread out more over time. These discussions should also involve the Ministry of Finance, as there may be certain rules and regulations determining the flexibility of how funding can be allocated within the medium-term expenditure framework.

In the Estonian Lifelong Learning Strategy, the strategic priorities and goals are expressed in concrete financial terms by the Ministry of Education and Research’s four-year Medium-term Expenditure Framework. They are also revisited every year and adjusted based on economic forecasts and in discussions with the Ministry of Finance and Parliament (Box 2.3).

Once the required funding for each policy action has been calculated, it is important to assess how the funding will be sourced. Financial feasibility should therefore be assessed in relation to the country’s medium-term expenditure framework, and current or future annual budget. Funding may come from the government, stakeholders, other international partner organisations (e.g. EU, International Monetary Fund) and individuals. Since these actors benefit in different ways from the returns on investment in education and skills policies, they may be willing to contribute financially.

In Latvia’s previous EDG 2014-2020, 54% of funding came from the national budget, 43% from EU funds and another 3% from international funding sources (Figure 2.11). While the EU funding and international sources all require a certain amount of national co-funding, the overall reliance on external funding in Latvia has been significant. International sources have made it possible to fund ambitious projects, such as the new competence-based curriculum, the development of digital learning tools, drop-out prevention measures, professional development for teachers, career guidance services, work-based learning in VET, modernisation of higher education, and adult learning programmes.

Diversifying funding sources has a number of benefits, such as reducing over-reliance on a single funder to avoid the risk of not having sufficient funding if that single funder has unexpected financial constraints or changes its priorities. Involving other funders in financing the costs of a policy action, such as stakeholders and individuals, may also increase their ownership of a policy action. Securing funding from international partner organisations may be an important boost to the available funding for policy actions, which otherwise may not have been possible. Large-scale implementation may thus be more effective when using multiple funding sources for implementation (Gage and et al., 2014[59]).

It also important to consider the sustainability of funding sources. This is particularly relevant given the uncertain environment due to COVID-19, and potentially shifting priorities for international funders (e.g. “Brexit” in the EU). For the purposes of planning Latvia’s EDG it is important to confirm that the funding source is available for the entire duration of the planned policy action. This would reduce the risk of not being able to implement a policy action due to funding suddenly becoming unavailable. In the long term, it may be prudent to plan and identify alternative, in-country funding sources that could supplement and eventually replace international funding sources. An example of this would be piloting a shared training fund in some sectors that employers contribute to and can draw from (OECD, 2019[20]).

Determining how the required amount of funding is sourced can be done with various methodologies, for example:

  • Funding gap analysis: This identifies the difference between the projected costs of the strategy and the projected domestic and external resources available for education. If a funding gap remains between the costs of the plan and the expected funding from domestic and external resources, the strategy will need to be revised to reduce the resource gap. There may be an opportunity to find more cost-effective implementation strategies or prioritise policy targets. It could be useful to review the unit costs and see where they can be reduced by sharing information on best practices (UNESCO-IIEP, 2015[60]).

  • Funding source analysis: This identifies which sources of funding are available and which are likely to be available based on current projections. It also reviews other potential funding sources and whether they can be channelled through general or sectoral budget support, or through earmarked funding for selected activities. The analysis should take into account the macroeconomic projections that may affect funding availability (UNESCO-IIEP, 2015[60]).

Given the current uncertainty of available funding for future policy actions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its secondary effects, the EDG should consider a number of different projections, ranging from best case to worst case scenarios, so that the implementation of the EDG is not jeopardised and can be quickly adapted should the policy context face further significant changes and/or should funding become further constrained.

Estimate the financial resources required for each policy action. The estimates should be informed by considering the complexity of the policy action and the required inputs for implementation, the ability of responsible actor(s) to efficiently use the funding, and any external circumstances (e.g. recession) that could influence cost. The data and assumptions on which the estimates are based should be made transparent. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and a constrained budget, funding could be prioritised for higher priority policy actions, while lower priority policy actions could be eliminated or reduced in scope. In order to spread the cost out more over time, policy actions could also be sequenced. Funding deliberations should involve the Ministry of Finance as there may be certain rules and regulations determining the flexibility of how funding can be allocated within the medium-term expenditure framework.

Identify for each policy action the party responsible for funding that action and assess the sustainability of the funding source. Funding sources could come from government, employers, individuals and international partner organisations, or a combination thereof. Given the uncertain budgetary environment due to COVID-19 it is important to consider the sustainability of funding sources and confirm that the funding source is available for the entire duration of the planned policy action. The EDG should consider a number of different scenarios, ranging from best case to worst case, so that in the case of a significant drop in future funding contingency plans are in place and the implementation of the EDG can be adapted accordingly.

As policy contexts inevitably change, long-term strategy documents such as the EDG should be designed to evolve. Strategic planning is an approach that balances short-term priorities with long-term perspectives. This approach adapts strategies as new developments are anticipated and emerge, continuously (re)assessing long-term goals while staying true to an agreed, long-term and overarching policy objective. Strategic planning helps to make informed decisions, find better strategies and challenge existing mindsets (OECD, 2019[62]). Strategic planning can be strengthened through: 1) applying a foresight approach; 2) conducting risk assessments; and 3) conducting resilience systems analysis. These approaches are complementary.

The required capacities for strategic planning include:

  • Regularly assessing signals of change and levels of risks within the internal and external environment.

  • Developing multiple plausible scenarios to inform strategic planning.

  • Designing and facilitating strategic dialogue across government and with stakeholders.

  • Identifying how to address the risks.

  • Designing and testing policy proposals against multiple scenarios.

Effective strategic planning capacity also requires those not directly involved to understand its overall purpose and use, and how to implement this approach in their respective work. As such, governments may want to provide basic strategic planning training for all public servants, as well as tailored training for senior decision makers.

Latvia is becoming increasingly interested in strategic planning and has engaged, for example, in a number of foresight activities in the context of the OECD Skills Strategy Latvia project and the OECD Digital Review project (OECD, forthcoming[63]). However, based on the feedback the OECD has received, activities like these have so far been one-off events and are not widely adopted across the Latvian government. In the context of COVID-19 and the high level of uncertainty, strategic planning takes on greater importance and could be useful for Latvia to consider.

A brief description of the three strategic planning approaches, some of the methodologies they use, the benefits they provide to governments, country cases where they have been applied and how they could be useful for Latvia’s EDG are discussed below.

Foresight is a systematic approach that looks beyond current expectations and takes into account a variety of plausible future developments in order to identify implications for policies. It does this by revealing implicit assumptions, challenging dominant perspectives, and engaging with surprising and significant disruptions that might otherwise be dismissed or ignored (OECD, 2019[64]).

Foresight can support government policy making by supporting better anticipation in identifying and earlier preparation for new opportunities and challenges that could emerge in the future, by encouraging policy innovation that spurs new thinking about the best policies to address these opportunities and challenges, and by future-proofing to stress-test existing or proposed strategies against a range of future scenarios (OECD, 2019[64]).

Foresight does not attempt to predict or forecast the future, which would be of limited benefit in a world of high uncertainty. Instead, it seeks to identify a number of different plausible future scenarios, explore what impacts they could have, and identify potential implications for policies. Foresight looks beyond the scope of traditional policy silos and considers how multiple developments can intersect and interact in unexpected ways. Change may be happening further and faster than current deliberative and sometimes lengthy policy processes are designed to cope with, and when change grows exponentially, so too must a government’s ability to respond (OECD, 2019[64]).

Foresight uses a range of methodologies, for example:

  • Horizon scanning: This involves seeking and researching signals of change in the present and their potential future impacts. Horizon scanning is the foundation of any strategic foresight process. It can involve desk research, expert surveys and the review of existing futures literature.

  • Megatrends analysis: This involves exploring and reviewing large-scale changes taking place at the intersection of multiple policy domains that have complex and multidimensional impacts in the future.

  • Scenario planning: This involves developing multiple stories or images of how the future could look in order to explore and learn in terms of implications for the present.

  • Visioning and back-casting: This involves developing an image of an ideal (or undesirable) future state and working backwards to identify what steps to take to achieve (or to avoid) this state.

Governments around the world are using foresight. Canada produces regular “meta-scans” on key emerging changes that have transformative potential for the country as a whole (Box 2.5) (Government of Canada, 2020[65]). The US National Intelligence Council publishes a regular strategic assessment of how key trends and uncertainties might shape the world over the coming 20 years to help senior US leaders think and plan for the long term. The Committee of the Future of the Finnish Parliament has published 100 anticipated radical technologies and identified 100 legislative objectives to streamline the adoption of technologies. It has also identified 200 new professions of the future so that the country can prepare for upcoming challenges with the right knowledge and skills (Committee for the Future, 2019[66]; OECD, 2019[64]). In Singapore, a common practice is to place policy makers in central foresight institutions to gain experience and then deploy them across government to propagate their expertise. The Strategy Group located in the Prime Minister’s Office drives whole-of-government strategic planning by identifying key priorities and emerging issues over the medium to long term. It is led by the head of civil service/permanent secretary (strategy) and two deputy secretaries. It also serves a training and consultancy role to support foresight mainstreaming across government (OECD, 2019[64]; Government of Singapore, 2020[67]).

Latvia’s EDG development and implementation would benefit from a foresight approach. During the OECD Skills Strategy project, a foresight workshop was held with government officials and stakeholders in Latvia to provide an initial experience of foresight approaches and discuss multiple scenarios that may be relevant for Latvia’s EDG. A description of the four different scenarios that participants came up with, their implications for skills issues, as well as some considerations for Latvia’s EDG are presented in Box 2.4. In order for this foresight workshop experience to not just be a one-off event, Latvia should consider further foresight interventions. Foresight discussions with relevant actors could allow Latvia to reflect upon multiple possible future scenarios, anticipate possible changes in society, and adapt the implementation of the EDG as needed.

Risk assessments evaluate the probability and consequences of risks in order to better understand where contagion effects and amplification are likely to occur. The aim is to identify risky events that could result in adverse impacts of national significance that disrupt vital sectors, degrade key assets, negatively impact public finances and erode public trust in government (OECD, 2011[68]). Risk assessments can support the government by identifying and assessing risks arising from vulnerabilities in the status quo, as well as promoting a shared understanding of the risk landscape (OECD, 2011[68]).

Risk assessment is enriched by the involvement of a variety of stakeholders who can provide insights and feedback on the wide-ranging impact that certain risks can have, and what capabilities would be required to address these risks (OECD, 2015[69]).

Risk assessment can be done through various methodologies, for example:

  • Mapping: This involves providing a conceptual system for understanding networks, processes and organisational features. It helps to identify the hubs most likely to serve as the propagation pathways for a large-scale risky event.

  • Modelling: This involves understanding what conditions and variables make an event more likely to result in propagation effects. Models are able to identify the general conditions that might lead to a risky event.

Risk assessments have been undertaken across OECD countries. For example, after two hurricanes hit France in 1999 and damaged 5 489 schools, the government introduced regular risk assessments to provide early warning and anticipate the impact of such a crisis. It also designed safety plans and strengthened a programme with “major risk co-ordinators” to provide training in how to deal with such a crisis. Similar risk assessment approaches exist in countries like Mexico, Turkey and Iceland to help them be better prepared for earthquakes (OECD, 2004[70]). The Netherlands conducts regular national risk assessments to define priority risks that need preparation and capacity development. An impact assessment allows for the determination of which capabilities are needed for each type of risk (Box 2.5).

Recent crises such as COVID-19 show the adverse impact a crisis can have on Latvia as a whole and on its education and skills system. Given the wide-ranging medium-term and long-term economic and societal repercussions of COVID-19, Latvia could benefit from further consideration of the risks of these repercussions for the effective implementation of the EDG. In order to better position itself to anticipate such a crisis in the future and to incorporate the potential impacts of such crisis into the design and implementation of future education policy, Latvia should consider conducting regular risk assessments.

Resilience systems analysis is complementary to risk assessment. Once risks have been assessed through risk assessment methodologies, resilience systems analysis aims to identify ways to boost the resilience of individuals, households and communities, and countries to the risks they face. Resilience systems analysis seeks to answer questions such as where to invest time, skills and funds to empower at-risk people, helping them to better absorb shocks, adapt so that they become less exposed to shocks, or transform so that shocks no longer occur (OECD, 2014[71]).

Resilience is defined here as the ability of individuals, households, communities and countries to absorb and recover from shocks, whilst positively adapting and transforming their structures and means for living in the face of long-term stresses, change and uncertainty. (OECD, 2014[71]). For Latvia’s EDG, such a resilience systems analysis could consider the ability of Latvia’s education and skills system to absorb and recover from shocks, while positively adapting and transforming the structures and means for living in the face of long-term stresses, change and uncertainty.

Resilience systems analysis can support governments by identifying which components of the system are resilient and which are not, and the reasons why. It can also establish a shared vision among all relevant actors of what needs to be done to boost resilience in the system, and how to integrate these aspects into policies and strategies (OECD, 2014[71]).

Resilience systems analysis can be done through a variety of methodologies, for example:

  • Analysis of system parts: This involves explaining how different risks affect the various parts of the system, and understanding where the system is resilient and where it is weak.

  • Resilience gap analysis: This involves sharing a vision of the priority gaps in resilience both now and in the future.

  • Roadmap construction: This involves developing a roadmap to boost resilience in the short, medium and long term.

Resilience systems analysis, and variations thereof, have been applied across OECD countries. For example, Sweden has used the resilience systems analysis framework in its development co-operation approach (Box 2.5), the results of which have informed its decision to prioritise vulnerable groups and regions that would be most affected by identified risks (OECD, 2017[72]).

As can be seen in many countries, the current COVID-19 crisis has exposed the vulnerabilities of Latvia’s education and skills system and its challenges in adapting to changing circumstances. As Latvia begins to move towards recovery it may consider conducting a resilience systems analysis to identify which parts of its education and skills system have been most affected and are most vulnerable to shocks. This would allow Latvia to prioritise those parts of the system with further support and thus strengthen the overall resilience of its education and skills system during and beyond the EDG.

Consider multiple possible future scenarios, anticipate possible changes in society and the economy, and explore their potential implications for education and skills policies in Latvia. Explore how multiple developments from other policy sectors (e.g. economy, labour market, health, technology) can intersect and interact with education and skills policies in unexpected ways, and may require adjustments to the EDG. Encourage openness about the assumptions behind analyses and create an opportunity to evaluate the drivers of uncertainty in Latvia. An information system that collects and links data from diverse policy sectors, provides frequent updates, and supports the detection of emerging trends would be useful to inform implementation decisions of the EDG.

Assess the risks of the different possible future scenarios and identify the vulnerabilities in the current education and skills system in adapting to such changes. Identify ways to address the risks and prepare accordingly in EDG implementation. Make the results of risk assessments available for policy makers to inform decisions and allow them to make explicit trade-off and prioritisation decisions.

Conduct a resilience systems analysis to identify which parts of Latvia’s education and skills system have been most affected by the recent COVID-19 crisis and are most vulnerable to future shocks. This would allow Latvia to prioritise those parts of the system with further support, strengthen the overall resilience of its education and skills system, and support at-risk groups during and beyond the EDG.

Latvia’s EDG is a strategic document that lays out what Latvia wants to achieve in the medium term in education and skills policies by describing the policy actions Latvia plans to implement to achieve its policy objectives. The benefits of a well-defined EDG include aligning policy actions with policy objectives, providing clarity about what needs to be done by whom and by when, communicating priorities, and holding all relevant actors accountable for implementing the policy actions and achieving the policy objectives.

The elements of an effective process for identifying policy actions for Latvia’s EDG in education and skills policy include using a robust framework for selecting policy actions and engaging all relevant stakeholders in the process. A robust framework can facilitate the selection process by guiding involved actors to reflect carefully on the feasibility of the proposed actions and on the extent to which they advance the policy objectives of the EDG. The identification of policy actions and the implementation of the EDG require the engagement of relevant stakeholders as they possess important sectoral knowledge and valuable insights, and play an important role in the implementation of the policy actions. Tailored engagement strategies are needed to reflect the varying importance and commitment of different stakeholder groups to the success of the EDG.

A number of trends play an important role in shaping Latvia’s skills needs and opportunities. Megatrends such as globalisation, technological progress, population ageing, migration, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, are driving significant changes in skills needs in society and the economy, and are making it increasingly challenging for education and skills systems to adequately prepare individuals for the future. Given this context, the OECD provides guidance on the implications of this policy environment for the selection of policy actions that advance the objectives of the EDG.

In developing the EDG, Latvia based the proposed policy actions on the “OECD Skills Strategy Latvia: Assessment and Recommendations” report. These policy actions were developed based on input from a broad range of actors and an in-depth assessment of Latvia’s education and skills system. Since the context has significantly changed since the launch of the recommendations and assessment report due to the unforeseen COVID-19 pandemic, this report provides further guidance and policy actions to help Latvia respond to the pressures that the pandemic has generated. These proposed policy actions should be further discussed in Latvia in order to determine to what extent they could be included in the EDG.

Latvia should also consider the suggestions for how to further develop and implement its EDG. It should include system level policy actions, allocate roles and responsibilities to actors for policy actions, set clear timelines for implementation, determine the amount and source of required funding, and strengthen strategic planning to better anticipate and plan for possible changes in the policy context. Further developing the EDG in this way would allow Latvia to more effectively implement the policy actions and ultimately achieve the policy objectives.

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Notes

← 1. Market sentiment refers to the overall attitude of investors toward financial markets.

← 2. The school as learning organisation model focuses the efforts of school leaders, teachers, support staff, parents, (local) policy makers and all others involved to realise different key dimensions in its schools: 1) developing a shared vision centred on the learning of all students; 2) creating and supporting continuous learning opportunities for all staff; 3) promoting team learning and collaboration among all staff; 4) establishing a culture of enquiry, innovation and exploration; 5) embedding systems for collecting and exchanging knowledge and learning; 6) learning with and from the external environment and larger system; and 7) modelling and growing learning leadership.

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