Skills: How can sectors prepare for the future?

Skills: How can sectors prepare for the future?

esf logoIn a fast-changing labour market, employees must evolve accordingly (by retraining or further education) and graduates must possess the right competences to be employable. IDEA is working on a number of interesting projects in this context.

In order to meet future challenges in the field of competences, in 2021, IDEA is carrying out two ESF SCOPE studies in association with Constructiv (construction sector) and Liberform (liberal professions sector). These studies focus on identifying and analysing relevant trends for the sector, their impact on competence requirements and the implications for the range of available training options. We are consulting experts and employers using a combination of desk research, workshops and company visits. This will result in a strategic forecast: a picture of the anticipated changes in terms of jobs, knowledge and skills in the sector. In parallel, we are also analysing the range of training options available to be able to confront the demand and future demand for competences with the (available) education and training options. The result: an action plan with specific commitments from the stakeholders involved.

One important route to prepare sectors for the competences needed in the future involves greater cooperation on training. This was also highlighted in the EU Skills agenda. To identify the potential for cooperation on training for companies in the Midwest region, we mapped out existing cooperation partnerships for technical profiles in 2020 at the request of POM West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders Development Agency). We did this based on surveys of companies and training providers and with input provided by sectoral organisations. We identified factors for success and bottlenecks. Competition proved to be the most significant barrier with regard to business-to-business partnerships. There is a fear that employees will be poached or that important business information will be passed on. Nevertheless, good examples (such as Plastics@Tielt: a long-term cooperation between a number of plastic processing companies and a technical school) show that this can be overcome with open communication and a clear, common goal. Finally, we formulated specific recommendations and opportunities. One example is a speed date between companies and training institutions. The study showed that the parties still lack sufficient knowledge of one another as well as of the other’s needs. A low-threshold event aimed at actual supply and demand of companies and training institutions could lead to many quick wins for both sides.

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