Assessing policy performance Measuring the outcomes of skills development


Assessing policy performance
Measuring the outcomes of skills development systems is not straightforward. Poor
outcomes are more readily spotted, in the form of mismatches, shortages and gaps.
Good outcomes are easily lumped into other indicators, for example low unemployment or increased productivity, exports or investment.
Nevertheless, measuring the outcomes of skills systems and policies is essential in
order to monitor and improve their effectiveness and relevance. Four key elements of a
sound assessment process are: 

■ quality assurance, based on employers’ and trainees’ feedback, to capture the
labour market outcomes of training: this represents the monitoring of performance that training institutions, students, their families, their prospective employers
and taxpayers need most;
■ regular and timely labour market information on current demand, broken
down by occupation and skills level, including early identification of sectoral
trends and of changes in technology and occupations leading to changing skills
■ quantitative and qualitative forecasting of future demand for skills;

 ■ channelling of information to training providers, career guidance and employment services to enable them to adapt training provision to changing demand.
Box 10:  Financial incentives for training in Argentina
Argentina uses its tax credit regime to target incentives to SMEs to invest in training their workers.
Under this regime, SMEs can finance training projects up to the equivalent of 8 per cent of total
remuneration. They can also be reimbursed for costs incurred in undertaking skills assessment and
certification in addition to actual training – an incentive to boost recognition of skills learned informally or on the job. This feature helps make the programme (begun in 2007) attractive to SMEs,
which comprise 70 per cent of beneficiaries.
34 A Skilled Workforce for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth
Illustrations of recent training policy applications
Skills for economic recovery
In response to the global economic crisis, all G20 countries have stepped up investments
in training. Measures widely adopted have included additional training combined with
reduced working hours and part-time unemployment benefits, skills upgrading for workers changing jobs and initial training for young people entering the labour market.
At its 98th Session in June 2009, the International Labour Conference adopted the
Global Jobs Pact to guide governments in pursuing a jobs-led recovery. The Global Jobs
Pact acknowledges the key role of training and employment services in both immediate
crisis response and longer-term development.
The Global Jobs Pact encouraged countries to invest in training in order to:
(1) prepare displaced workers for different kinds of jobs expected in the post-crisis
(2) use the downtime to invest in upgrading skills of employees, and thus improve
both their employability and employers’ productivity; and
(3) target training to avoid skill constraints in implementing stimulus programmes.
Examples of country responses are given in box 11.
Box 11:  Training to speed recovery in employment
(Re-)training displaced workers
The majority of Canada’s employment activation measures have been devolved to provincial and
territorial governments and to community organizations, in order to better meet local needs as well
as to avoid duplication of effort across levels of government. Programmes already in use with proven
track records were expanded to support workers training for new jobs. For example, the “Second
Career” programme in the province of Ontario provides laid-off workers with training in occupations
deemed to be in high demand, supporting tuition and living costs for up to two years.
Retraining for displaced workers was also largely decentralized to local government in Indonesia.
The Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration allocated IDR 300 billion (about US$ 31.5 million)
to upgrade workers’ skills and employability, targeting training for jobseekers and migrant workers
as well as upgrading the infrastructure of training centres. Those regions with severe unemployment
and large numbers of laid-off workers received funding for training and were able to target it to meet
local demand. Three elements have enhanced the effectiveness and relevance of the training: partnerships with local business; incorporating entrepreneurship in the training; and the use of mobile
training centres to reach laid-off workers who had returned to rural communities.

 Upgrading employees’ skills
Work-sharing programmes, such as in Germany and Canada, help avert lay-offs during temporary
downturns by offering income support to subsidize lost wages when employers opt to reduce working
time rather than to reduce their workforce. The income support is typically provided through unem- 

PART III Building blocks of strong training and skills development strategies 35
Skills for green jobs
The goal of cutting carbon emissions poses significant challenges to the world of work.
The ILO estimates that employment in carbon-intensive sectors accounts for about
38 per cent of jobs across the world, accounting for some 600 million workers (World
of Work Report 2009). Also, as with any other structural change, the speed and extent
of the transition to a greener economy will be substantially affected by how successfully technical and entrepreneurship skills are matched to new job requirements, how
fast new technology spreads and how effective labour market policies are in supporting
workers and businesses in making the transition.12
12 For example, simulation analyses estimate that shifting taxes away from labour and onto CO2 emissions could
lead to net job gains of 2.6 million in developed countries and over 14 million worldwide (ILO, World of Work
Report 2009: Global jobs crisis and beyond (Geneva, 2009).
ployment insurance benefits or other social income programmes. Social dialogue to gain agreement
on such schemes is essential. In Germany, reimbursement of employers’ social security contributions increases to 100 per cent if the employer devotes downtime to staff training. In Canada,
individual training plans range from upgrading skills in current jobs to preparing for promotions and
even training for jobs outside the company. Workers remain employed – helping retain aggregate
demand in hard-hit communities – and acquire new skills, while employers are able to retain staff
and avoid having to train new workers when markets pick up.
In France, national and particularly regional government provided generous funding to help enterprises train or retrain workers, often in combination with reduced working hours, but without loss of
salary, as an alternative to lay-offs. A Social Investment Fund financed by the State, the European
Social Fund (€5 billion) and social partners (€500 million) was set up to finance measures which
promote the employment of young people, enable workers made redundant to re-enter the labour
market and facilitate access to vocational training.
Crisis-response measures in Russia included RUB 36.3 billion from the federal budget to implement regional programmes to upgrade the quality of the workforce by providing vocational training
to nearly 150,000 people and on-site training to 85,000 graduates.
Integrating training in public investment programmes
In the United States, training policies to prevent poverty among low-skilled and low-income workers
were one of the main focuses of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Some
US$4 billion was earmarked in 2009 to expand existing job training programmes and provide
grants for training and job placement in high-growth and emerging industry sectors such as renewable energy and health care. US$150 million was allocated to Pathways Out Of Poverty, which
provides grants for job training directed towards the clean energy industry for individuals living
below or close to the poverty line. Skills measures accounted for about 0.6 per cent of the total
US$118 million invested in stimulating activities deemed important for “greening” the economy.
Box 11:  Training to speed recovery in employment (continued)
36 A Skilled Workforce for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth
Regulatory reforms and emissions targets will bring about downsizing and restructuring in emissions-intensive industries. On the other hand, employment growth can be
expected in renewable energies and activities to support energy efficiency, especially in
construction and transportation. What does it take to turn this potential into real jobs?
Part of the answer to that question lies in overcoming skills gaps.
Although job growth in low-carbon activities is estimated to offset job losses in
high-carbon ones, the skills needed in the new green jobs will not necessarily be the
Box 12: Skills for green jobs: illustrations of coordinated approaches
■ In Spain, high oil prices hurt the competitiveness of the automotive industry in Navarre in the
1980s and 1990s. Unemployment in the region soared to 13 per cent in 1993. The regional
government, working with industry, promoted wind-generated electricity as an alternative source
of employment as much as an alternative source of energy. Since then Navarre, a small region
of Spain with a population of just 620,000, has become Europe’s sixth largest producer of
wind power. The policy mix incorporated environmental and skill measures to respond to an
immediate economic crisis through a long-term development strategy. In the current economic
and employment downturn, Navarre boasts the lowest unemployment levels of any region in the
country. In the Environmental Training Plan of the Autonomous Community of Navarre, begun
in 2002,

 the regional government responded to assessments carried out with regional industry
showing that skills gaps were opening up in areas not covered by initial vocational training and
were largely company- specific. To meet this need, the regional government and enterprises set
up a public training centre for renewable energies. 

■ In South Africa, a public works programme addresses the problem of biodiversity and water
security. The Working for Water programme, launched in 1995 and administered through the
Department of Water Affairs, works with local communities on jobs and training. It also works
in partnership at national and local levels with the Departments of Environmental Affairs,
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Trade and Industry. Technical training for up to 30,000
people per year targets marginalized groups, including young people (40 per cent) and people
with disabilities (5 per cent), and is coupled with training in core skills, life skills, and safety
and health issues. Although many jobs created through the public works programme are of short
duration, attention is mandated on working conditions, transferable skills, and career paths
after exiting the public works programme

■ The objective of France’s National Plan for Mobilization of Territories and Industries for the
Development of Green Jobs and Skills is to support the creation of 600,000 green jobs by
2020. The Mobilization Plan is a collaboration between ministries, regions, training providers,
advisory bodies, social partners and employment agencies. Sectoral committees (comités de
filières) were set up in the 11 sectors considered most promising in terms of green jobs creation. The comprehensive implementation plan begins with identification of relevant professions, definition of training needs, setting up training and qualification pathways, training for
jobseekers in occupations suffering shortages, and advocacy for the green growth plan.

 ILO: Skills for green jobs (Geneva, 2010a), country studies
PART III Building blocks of strong training and skills development strategies 37
same as those used in the jobs at risk in other sectors. Retraining is the key to smooth
and equitable transition. Transversal skills as well as specific technical ones increase
adaptability and occupational mobility.
Skills policies and environmental policies are still often dealt with in isolation from
one another. One of the hallmarks of successful deployments of training programmes to
speed the transformation to lower-carbon activities and respond to other environmental
concerns (box 12) is that they have overcome this policy coordination challenge.

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