Low skills represent a considerable risk in today’s knowledge economy, and local level stakeholders are increasingly becoming important players in addressing skills issues. Local labour markets have particular skills needs, and local policy makers are developing specific strategies to address them. Such strategies often focus on three particular issues: attracting and retaining talent, upgrading the skills of the current labour force, and integrating hard to reach groups into the skills development system. All three factors are essential to ensuring a skilled and effective labour force: however getting the right balance between them may be crucial to achieving economic competitiveness and social cohesion.
In 2007 the OECD LEED Programme is examining 10 case studies of strong and innovative practice in designing local skills strategies from East Asia, Europe, Australasia and North and South America. The project is receiving support from the European Commission. With this project, LEED is looking at (a) case studies which illustrate the best and most innovative local skills strategies currently visible in the field; and (b) case studies which address the particular problems of local areas that are losing skills through demographic change and emigration.
For more information, please contact Ms Francesca Froy from the OECD Secretariat.
(a) Examples of strong local skills strategies
Skills are held by people, and in a global context of demographic change and migration, people are no longer a ‘fixed resource’. Because of this localities and regions now have to focus on both the development and the attraction of talent. At the same time, traditional jobs are being destroyed and being replaced by higher skilled ones. Training and education systems need to adapt to the evolving economy, planning for the future and upgrading the skills of lower-qualified people within the workforce. Further, in order to maximise the skills and manpower available, localities need to support the integration of untapped ‘pockets of skills’ in the community, particularly those of workless groups, and support their participation in vocational training. The OECD LEED Programme is interested in examples of local areas that have developed skills strategies which tackle these three fundamental issues, and have achieved an effective balance between them which reflects the needs of their own local area. A good strategy is not just about content, however, but also design. Strategies which set out a robust framework for implementation, converting aims and objectives into clear instruments and mechanisms, are more likely to be concretely implemented. A key feature of a successful local strategy will therefore also be robust mechanisms for implementation.
(b) Examples of skills strategies in areas experiencing a loss of skills
The loss of skilled people is an issue which has particular consequences for local areas experiencing high emigration, often rural areas and small towns, leading to tight labour markets, skills shortages, and a de-professionalisation of the local labour force. We are looking for examples of local areas experiencing such conditions that have responded by developing effective strategies which respond to these particular issues. Such strategies might also include the development of bilateral relationships with localities in countries of immigration, in order to better manage emigration and/or gain support for local development back home. It will be important to assess the degree to which such arrangements contribute to sharing and spreading the benefits of migration and the embeddeness of skills strategies on both sides.
Just published: OECD LEED “Designing Local Skills Strategie”.
Read the preliminary findings: an extract from the interim report.