Regional, rural and urban development

International Symposium - Skills and training ecosystems for local revitalisation


International Symposium - Skills and training ecosystems for local revitalisation : 

International innovations in vocational education and training (VET) and the post high school education for employability in an ageing society

Kyoto Sangyo University Musubiwaza-kan, Kyoto City, Japan, 12 December 2013




Japan currently faces far reaching social and economic challenges resulting from an unprecedented triad of depopulation, aging population and economic stagnation. This national challenge is particularly marked in local areas where demographic and economic decline have been sharp and new approaches to economic revitalisation are needed. A broad array of significant policy changes are being discussed as potential components of an overall strategy to adjust institutional structures to this changing environment. This study addresses one such policy area, namely, how training ecosystems can be strengthened and adapted so as to become an important driver of local revitalisation.

Two trends in Japan's aging society motivate the study outlined here. First, the country has recently embarked on a policy program of decentralization. This has increased the importance of and scope for increased public-private collaboration in the provision of VET. Secondly, employment opportunities for high-skilled youth are scarce, suggesting a mismatch between skills production and labour market demand. One key research need is thus to better understand the evolution of employers' skill needs and how well this demand matches the evolving supply. In Japan, VET has traditionally been used in private companies to foster "tailor made" workers. But because of current globalization and demographic changes, this system needs to adapt to accommodate an increased role for worker mobility and SMEs. Japan is now considering ways to redesign its traditional VET, both to allow more job-related skills certification options and to create more training options exterior to private companies, for example, using facilities of the educational system per se. However, much remains to be learned about how best to adapt the VET system.

In this context, university faculties of policy studies in the Kyoto Prefecture are collaborating to develop vocational and educational programs and qualification systems. These efforts take the form of public-private partnerships joining the forces of a variety of stakeholders. This study will assess the progress that has been achieved and the additional steps needed to realise the full potential of this collaboration.

Issue to be addressed

  What kind of skills development strategies and education systems are required for revitalizing local urban areas and developing human resources in ageing societies?

  What type of skills & training ecosystem for revitalising local communities and economies can be fostered?

  What inter-generational knowledge transfer (including VET) and innovative Higher VET can lead to reforming university education and innovating educational systems for human resource development?

  What is the role for universities to dynamise stagnated labour markets?

This study will examine both inter-university alliances for local collaboration and case examples of CUANKA, a co-ordination platform in the Northern Area of Kyoto Prefecture for collaborative projects between municipal and university stakeholders. The study will include the activities of the Glocal Human Resources Development Center, an NPO that places university students with local businesses where they can acquire practical knowledge and real-life skills while still at school. These potential models of educational systems will be analyzed in terms of their effectiveness for creating the type of advanced human resources relevant to local revitalization efforts.

A number of potential roles universities may play in the local revitalization effort will be addressed. Promotion of inter-generational skill transfer (including VET) can be achieved through a variety of methods. Enhancing the knowledge intensive activities of older workers and people in the third age provide community benefits on a number of different levels. By increasing skill transfer and creating more efficient methods for matching skill development with local demands, universities can play a crucial role in community revitalization. Though examining such efforts, this study will outline the key characteristics of an educational system that is responsive to the new demands of sustainable and resilient local communities.

The study will include comparative analysis in other OECD countries. For information on participation in the comparative analysis, please contact Prof. Katsutaka Shiraishi at Ryukoku University.


Symposium in Kyoto to discuss findings of the study - including a study tour

Date: 12-13 December 2013

Place: Kyoto Sangyo University Musubiwaza-kan




  • Kyoto Prefectural Government
  • Kyoto Alliance for Human Development on Local Community Revitalization
  • Kyoto Alliance for Human Development on Local Economy Revitalization
  • LORC, Ryukoku University
  • Kyoto Sangyo University

Members of Kyoto Alliance for Human Development

9 universities (Ryukoku University, Kyoto Sangyo University, Kyoto University, Kyoto Prefectural University, Doshisha University, Kyoto Tachibana University, Bukkyo University, Kyoto Bunkyo University, Seibi University), Kyoto Prefectural Government, Kyoto City Government, Kyoto Cities Towns and Villages Promotion Association, Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kyoto Association of Corporate Executives, Kyoto Employers' Association, Kyoto Industrial Association, COLPU, CUANKA, Kyoto NPO Centre, Consortium of Universities in Kyoto, NPO Glocal Human Resources Development Center.