A new thematic paper by the European Network of Public Employment Services (PES Network) highlights how PES are developing their skills-intelligence systems to enhance their understanding and analysis of future skills needs in the European labour market. It includes a series of recommendations for PES to further reinforce this important contribution to the EU Skills Agenda.
In light of the need for a sustainable recovery after the coronavirus pandemic, and to adapt to the challenges of digitalisation and greening, Europeans will need to acquire new skill sets or improve their existing skills to adapt and thrive in the future labour market. For this reason, one of the key actions under the European Skills Agenda is strengthening skills intelligence in European countries.
In terms of their current approach to future-skills intelligence, the paper finds that: “Most PES use a mix of methods, including descriptive statistics, skills and jobs surveys, qualitative research and foresight methods. Quantitative forecasting is less common, and only few have adopted AI/big-data analysis.”
Based on their analysis – and identification of examples of good and promising PES practices – the paper’s authors make a number of recommendations for strengthening PES’ efforts in this field.
To strengthen their future skills intelligence systems, PES should:
- focus on skills rather than occupations – e.g. by adopting skill-based classifications like ESCO or national level skills repositories;
- develop a more holistic methodological approach –balancing the use of different methods (big data, AI, machine learning, qualitative methods…) to inform evidence-based policy;
- develop a common framework – to bridge the differences in language used by job-seekers and employers through software which can analyse vacancies and match skills data;
- involve external and internal stakeholders – to strengthen the development and execution of skills analyses, as well as the uptake of findings;
- balance and coordinate demand and supply perspectives – by creating methodologies and databases that take into account both perspectives at the same time;
- provide information meeting the range of needs – including both short-term policy needs and forward-looking studies, for policymakers, employers and training professionals;
- strengthen PES potential in relation to skills intelligence – including by investing in qualified and motivated staff and ICT infrastructure, and providing stable financing; and
- continue to learn from each other – improvement of skills intelligence should be seen as a journey, with continuous learning as the way forward.
The paper and its recommendations are based on a review of existing sources, as well as the findings of a questionnaire sent to European PES in summer 2021. It follows on from a PES Network Seminar on ‘Future skills, career guidance and lifelong learning’, held online on 9 February 2022.