The Network works to develop and scale innovations that support skills development for employability of workers, productivity of enterprises and promoting social justice. The Network primarily focuses on eight key areas that are crucial to achieving its mission:
1. Apprenticeships and Work Based Learning
Apprenticeships mean any system by which an employer undertakes by written or verbal contract to employ a young person and to train him (or her) or have him (or her) trained systematically for a trade for a period the duration of which has been fixed in advance and in the course of which the apprentice is bound to work in the employer’s service.
Work based learning refers to all forms of learning that takes place in a real work environment. Apprenticeships (formal and informal), internships/traineeships and on-the-job training are the most common types of work based learning
2. Assessment, Certification and recognition of Skills
Assessment and certification are the key processes by which an individual’s knowledge, skills and attitudes are evaluated and formally recognised against a predetermined standard. The assessment and certification of skills formally recognises that a person is able to perform a defined job or occupation, resulting in the award of a credential which gives formal recognition of skills acquired. Recognition of skills is a process used to identify, assess and certify knowledge, skills and competencies – regardless of how, when or where the learning occurred – against prescribed standards of part (modular) or a full qualification.
3. Career, Entrepreneurship and Employment Services
Individual careers increasingly involve a combination of part time and full time employment, self-employment and volunteering across various job roles in different sectors. In today’s dynamic labour markets, career guidance, employment support services and lifelong learning to support more frequent career transitions is a growing need. Entrepreneurialism has become an important skill, both for self-employment and active career management. Public and private employment services are one of the major conduits for implementing employment and labour market policies. Strong employment services play a key role in job matching, enhancing employability, addressing skills mismatches and linking support directly to employers and workers through a variety of programmes.
4. Data and Analysis for Skills Development
Skill systems require labour market intelligence and data to understand the skills in demand and to develop and implement program and policy responses. Forecasting and anticipation of skills in demand at national or sectoral level will help create the necessary feedback loops to provide evidence to inform strategies, policies and programmes on skills development. Data on key performance indicators and outcomes are central to measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of skills systems. With a systematic approach to the collection, analysis and use of data, government and employers’ and workers’ organisations can strengthen labour market and management information systems.
5. Industry-institute linkages, Clusters and Skills Ecosystems
Strong linkages between education and training providers and enterprises are at the heart of effective skills systems. Providers should develop strong local partnerships that connect their products, services and learners with enterprises and employers. How skills are used in the workplace and how businesses engage with the local skills ecosystem are important factors that shape the real demand for skills. Skills policy and programmes should also link with efforts to support innovation and growth of workplace and industry through an integrated skill ecosystem.
6. Sectoral Approaches
Sectoral approaches allow education and training stakeholders to understand and respond more effectively to a sectors’ skill needs. They are a means of connecting national systems, policies and programs with the specific challenges and demands of individual economic sectors. It allows institutional arrangements, such as sector skills bodies, which bring together employers’ and workers’ organizations, education and training providers, research institutions, development agencies, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders to create and develop coordinated strategies to effectively respond to the specific needs of each sector.
7. Training Delivery
The delivery of training is central to any skill system and there is considerable scope for innovation. Courses and programmes should be accessible to a wide range of learners and be delivered through quality pedagogy, using tools, equipment and methods used in industry. Experiential and work based learning is an increasingly important element for the development of professional skills and competencies. Through flexible scheduling and options for modular and micro learnings with the use of digital technologies, training should be more accessible and relevant to the needs of every individual in both formal and informal economies.
8. Social Inclusion
Increasing opportunities and improving quality of work for those disadvantaged in the labour market is a key element of effective skill systems. Concerted and focused efforts are needed to improve outreach, quality and relevance of education and training, and strengthen their links to the world of work. Given the heterogeneity of disadvantaged groups, such as women, youth, persons with disabilities, migrants or refugees, and workers in rural areas or in the informal economy, education and training systems and programmes need to overcome the range of existing barriers through carefully designing policy intervention; responding flexibly to different needs, and addressing structural challenges including social perceptions.