Labour market information

Systematic skills anticipation and matching strategies essential for inclusive economic recovery, say experts at ILO webinar

The online event showcased successful approaches and lessons learned on developing effective skills and employment strategies and policies to reduce skills mismatches.

News | 01 June 2021
A woman works at an office in Indonesia. ©ILO
The rapidly evolving labour market along with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world of work highlight the need to adequately prepare the workforce to meet future skills needs, said experts at a webinar organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s Skills for Prosperity in South-East Asia programme (SfP-SEA), which is funded by the United Kingdom government.

There is a need to address not only currently-observed skills mismatches, but also those that could potentially appear in the future, they said. In order to tackle these issues, policy-makers, employers, workers, education and training institutions, and students all need timely, reliable and consolidated information about skills supply and demand.

Entitled “Making South-East Asia skills and TVET systems future-ready: The role of skills anticipation systems in matching future skills needs in the labour market”, the virtual webinar was held via Zoom on 25 May 2021.

“Investing in skills education in ASEAN during this unprecedented global pandemic, and recovering from that, is essential to ensure that we have a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery,” said Kebur Azbaha, Head of Prosperity and Economics Team of the British High Commission in Malaysia.

Innovation in understanding skills demand and anticipation will play an important role for skills and education to improve livelihoods of the poorest people in ASEAN, he added.

Olga Strietska-Ilina, ILO Senior Skills and Employability Specialist, explained how skills anticipation is a strategic and systematic process based on social dialogue through which labour market actors identify and prepare to meet future skills needs, thus helping to avoid potential gaps between skills demand and supply.

She also stressed how sectoral approaches to skills development are crucial in the immediate effort to lessen the impact of COVID-19 while the pandemic is active, both by increasing the employability of workers of workers and preparing enterprises for recovery.

“Technology, digitalization, and global changes cause changes in the composition of skills within qualifications and occupations, therefore education and training systems need to adjust”, she said.

Terence Hogarth, Professor at the University of Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER), explained to the audience the demand-led system of skills anticipation in England. A substantial amount of investment in skills anticipation has taken place over recent years, he said, with the aim of increasing the amount of information young people, job seekers, and employers have in making decisions about which skills to invest in.

Dissemination of data from skills anticipation activities was critical to the success of governmental policies, he added.

Much of the data collated has been integrated in the “Labour Market Information for All” (LMI for All) online data portal, which connects and standardizes existing sources of high quality, reliable labour market information with the aim of informing individuals’ career decisions, said Prof. Hogarth.

Hoosen Rasool, Director at South Africa’s FR Research, shared that country’s lessons learned on the development of a skills planning mechanism, which started in 2011. During that time, there was no common and shared vision among parties involved with building this system.

South Africa has rich sources of data including reports on skills demand and supply, which have been used for student funding, enrollment planning and career advisory services. The country also produced reports on workplace skills plans along with conducting relevant qualitative interviews with industry.

He also shared successful examples of skills measurement and analysis. These components have helped analyse emerging new sources of data that have the potential to provide real-time and detailed information on skills needs. Therefore, they have brought about the linkage of skills development to career paths, career development and promoting sustainable employment and career progression, he said.

However, there is room for improvement when it comes to communicating these rich sources of information, planning education and training policies, and implementing skills programmes, he concluded.

This webinar is part of SfP-SEA’s work to provide opportunities for mutual learning among Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines where the programme operates, as well as among other ASEAN members, not only showcasing the results and lessons learned from the programme, but also facilitating the sharing of best practices on relevant international approaches to skills anticipation and matching.

SfP-SEA aims to increase national capacity to achieve sustained and inclusive growth through the enhancement of inclusiveness, quality, relevance and cost-effectiveness of skills development and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) systems in the three countries.