Tools: Identifying skills needs in sectors and occupations

The joint report Approaches to anticipating skills for the future of work1 prepared by the ILO and OECD for the G20 Employment Working Group provides a set of principles for an effective skills assessment system. It summarizes various skills anticipation and forecasting methods, their requirements, advantages and disadvantages. It also includes a list of ILO tools for skills needs analysis and anticipation. For example, six guides produced by the ILO, ETF and Cedefop offer a wide range of methodologies that may complement each other (refer to box 33 of Toolkit 1). They include both qualitative and quantitative approaches and advocate strong social dialogue and institutions that are conducive to a better understanding of future skills needs. They provide professionals, policy-makers, researchers, social partners and experts with an overview of how different skills anticipation and matching methodologies can generate reliable labour market information, and how such information and evidence can be analysed and used for the development of policy interventions or adjustments in education and employment strategies.

In addition, the tools detailed below are used by practitioners at national, sectoral and enterprise levels in various countries.

The Greening of Registered Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor

This report is an environmental scan of the impact of recent policies and investments supporting “green jobs” on current and potential Registered Apprenticeship and other labour management training programs in the United States. The scan highlights the trends, activities, and changes that are underway in several key industries that will likely make up a significant portion of the emerging green economy.

It discusses how green economy is impacting the skills needs and type of changes being made in the apprenticeship programme to accommodate the new emphasis on Green.


Skills shortage research methodology, Australia

In Australia, the National Skills Needs List identifies trades that are experiencing a national skills shortage. The Department of Employment undertakes detailed labour market research and analysis on an ongoing basis to identify skills shortages to underpin policy, planning and resource allocation. A key element of the skills shortage research is the Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised (SERA), which collects two kinds of information about employers’ experiences of recruiting skilled workers:

  • The first is qualitative information gleaned from discussions with employers and recruitment professionals, which enables the identification of key labour market issues for each occupation.
  • The second is quantifiable data about employers’ recruitment experiences, including the proportion of vacancies filled and the number of applicants, qualified applicants and suitable applicants. This provides the basis for historical comparisons and analysis across states/territories and occupations.

The results inform a range of education, training, employment and migration policies and programmes and are publicly available.


How to conduct a quick and simplified sector analysis, Asian countries2

This tool provides steps, processes and a template for selecting sectors (refer to annex 1 of the tool).

Source: GIZ (2017) Down to earth: A practitioner’s guideline to work with business and industry in TVET,

Questionnaire for sector selection and assessment of frame conditions, DC dVET

Ideally, the selection of sectors is based on a comprehensive sector analysis. Once a number of promising sectors have been identified, a “quick-and-simplified sector analysis” could be applied to assess the potential for increasing the engagement of the business sector. This online questionnaire enables the analysis of three selected sectors. Each sector is evaluated against a set of criteria, which are derived from the relevant frame conditions, i.e. societal, political/legal and economic. Respondents to the questionnaire are required to reflect on whether the relevant frame conditions in the local context are conducive to the engagement of the business sector or not.

Source:, pp. 3–6.

Sector skills plan of merSETA, South Africa

In South Africa, each Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) develops a Sector Skills Plan (SSP) that serves as a comprehensive document outlining the skills demand and supply and resultant skills gaps in the sector. These skills gaps (scarce or critical skills) inform the development of priority actions aimed at addressing skills needs in the sector. This plan is from Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA (MerSETA), one of the 21 SETAs, and includes information about the research methodology employed in producing information about skills demand and supply. The methodology uses a combination of both primary and secondary research.


Guide on employer skills survey, ILO/ETF/Cedefop

The guide, which is part of the ILO, ETF and Cedefop series of guides on skills anticipation and matching, covers the development and implementation of an employers skills survey (ESS). Such surveys are designed to generate data on employers’ skills needs and their human capital development strategies. If carried out regularly, the surveys help to analyse trends in skills needs and identify potential skills bottlenecks.

The guide provides information to help institutions running an ESS to determine what is necessary at each stage of its development. It provides tips and methodological discussions on the main issues in each phase of survey development, the decisions that have to be made and what the outcome of each phase should be.


Workforce planning, including for apprentices at company level, the United States

Effective workforce planning is the foundation for creating workforce strategies that are closely aligned with business needs. The Employer’s playbook for building an apprenticeship program explains what workforce planning is, details its various approaches and components and provides key information for its successful implementation. Furthermore, this guide provides sample tools that can facilitate workforce planning at a company level, such as a detailed workforce development project plan and a strategic job gaps worksheet, among others.


Guidelines on Rapid Assessment of reskilling and upskilling needs in response to the COVID-19 crisis, ILO

Skills development has an important role to play in the immediate effort to lessen the impact of COVID-19 while the pandemic is active, in building the resilience of workers and firms, and in preparing for recovery. Time is of the essence in this response, to help speed recovery from recession, to get people back to work safely, to limit the career scarring effects of prolonged unemployment and skills mismatch, and to take advantage of opportunities that may otherwise dissipate over time. These Rapid Assessment guidelines aim to inform timely and practical action within the constraints of public health and workplace OSH policies. The guidelines focus on three broad types of impact on the labour market, and hence on demand for skills and opportunities for workers, with implications for reskilling and upskilling needs


In addition to the above tools, chapter 3 of the ILO’s guide to apprenticeships for enterprises (ILO, 2018) provides detailed insight into how selected enterprises decide to take on the apprentices.

See [6 Dec. 2019].

The source publication was developed by the Community of Practice “Private Sector Cooperation in TVET” within the GIZ Sector Network Assets for Asia. The Community of Practice comprises GIZ staff (international experts, national personnel, integrated experts and development advisers) from the following Asian countries: India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.