Skills policies and systems

The ILO works with member States to reform and strengthen their national skills policies and improve their training systems. Experience shows that an enabling framework linking skills development to productivity, employment, development and decent work targets three main objectives:
  • matching training to demand for skills in the labour market;
  • helping workers and enterprises adjust to technological or market changes, making it easier to move from declining or low productivity activities to growing and higher productivity activities through re-skilling and lifelong learning; and
  • building and sustaining competencies for future labour market needs, focusing on the strategic role of education and training policies in triggering and continuously fuelling innovation, enterprise development, technological change and competitiveness.

    Coordinated efforts are needed to promote skills development at the workplace and along value chains, to help manage the drivers of change at work today, among them, new technologies and climate change, and to integrate skills development into national and sector development strategies. ILO work in this area supports mechanisms, institutions, and social dialogue that can sustain inter-ministerial coordination and improve the early identification of skill needs and reduction of skill gaps. Our research agenda focuses on sustainable forward-looking frameworks for skills development; country experiences worldwide in developing and implementing national qualifications frameworks; improving informal apprenticeship systems (see skills for youth employment), and meeting the training needs created by economic stimulus programmes and emerging green jobs.

What's new

  1. Meeting skill needs for green jobs: Policy recommendations

    25 November 2013

    This document, jointly prepared by members of the Inter-Agency Working Group (IWG) on Greening Technical and Vocational Education and Training and Skills Development, presents a set of policy recommendations formulated in response to a request from the G20 Development Working Group (DWG) under the Human Resources Development (HRD) pillar.

  2. Key Elements of Quality Apprenticeships

    27 September 2012

  3. Upgrading informal apprenticeship A resource guide for Africa

    12 January 2012

  4. Skills for Employment Policy Brief: Formulating a national policy on skills development

    09 November 2011

  5. Teachers and trainers for the future – Technical and vocational education and training in a changing world

    30 September 2010

    Report for discussion at the Global Dialogue Forum on Vocational Education and Training (29–30 September 2010)

  6. Knowledge sharing in early identification of skill needs

    28 May 2010

    The ILO is conducting research into the identification of skill needs to help smooth transition to a low-carbon economy. The work is co-funded and jointly managed by the European Commission.

  7. Skills for Green Jobs

    22 October 2009

    The ILO is conducting policy-applied research into skill needs for greener economies. The research is based on fifteen country studies worldwide with a primary focus on good practice examples of how national policies for greening economies are complemented by identification of skills needs and efficient skills response strategies. The ILO is partnering with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) who is conducting six additional country studies in Europe.

  8. ILO research programme on implementation and impact of NQFs

    06 May 2010

Key Resources

  1. R195 Human Resources Development Recommendation, 2004

    17 June 2004

    Recommendation concerning Human Resources Development: Education, Training and Lifelong Learning

  2. Learning and training for work in the knowledge society. Report 91 IV (1)

    04 February 2002

    Explores contemporary trends in human resources development and training. Examines the shift towards economies and societies that increasingly rely on human knowledge and skills in producing goods and services and reviews the new objectives of education and training. Investigates reforms in education and training systems and examines policies and practices that encourage more and better training opportunities for employed and unemployed workers and those with special needs. Looks at international cooperation and donor policies in this area.

  3. The implementation and impact of National Qualifications Frameworks: Report of a study in 16 countries

    21 October 2010

  4. Report V - Skills for improved productivity, employment growth and development

    15 April 2008

  5. Conclusions on skills for improved productivity, employment growth and development

    13 June 2008

    International Labour Conference, 2008

  6. An introductory guide to national qualifications frameworks : conceptual and practical issues for policy makers

    01 January 2007

    Provides guidance on how to design and implement National Qualifications Frameworks, an instrument for the development, classification and recognition of skills, knowledge and competencies along a continuum of agreed levels.

  7. Managing vocational training systems

    18 January 2000

    Provides state-of-art materials relating to the management and organization of public vocational education and training (VET) systems and suggests a framework for developing the management competence of senior VET administrators encouraging them to review critically their administrative practices in order to move towards professional excellence. Covers management, organizational structure, target setting, planning, financing, and training administration.

  8. Supporting workplace learning for high performance working

    11 June 2002

    Explores workplace learning as a means of enhancing both work performance and the quality of working life. Identifies characteristics of high performance work organizations, considers the implementation of high performance work practices and investigates how far these practices are embedded in different countries. Examines ways in which public policy can be used to encourage organizations to make more effective use of the skills of their employees.