6. How to assure a better match?

Employer and training-related journals alike refer broadly to ‘Jobs as a moving target’ or ‘The moving target that is the job description’. Indeed, there are references to ‘Careers as a moving target’. Throughout the QSE-VET project, there has been an underlying consideration that industries and the jobs market are dynamic. So, job requirements are a ‘moving target’ for VET programme providers and employers and planning to match them is not easy. Essentially, to better understand the ‘current situation’, impact should be considered both in terms of quantity and quality. Quantity in terms of student numbers along with their sustained career progressions. Quality in terms of curriculum design and content. Besides establishing the current content of a specific role or series of jobs (tasks and abilities or a progression scale/career route), we also have to look at the changes in the level of demand and supply - as well as market developments in the context of the job role to meet on-going demands in terms of technical skills to do a particular job.  There is also the importance of considering new regulations, materials and techniques that find their way into new and future jobs descriptions. Thus, the need for diverse stakeholders to influence the refresh of curricula and learning material of VET programmes so that students emerge, near enough, ‘job ready’.

A plethora of reports exist on the theme of matching skills and jobs, essentially as skills mismatches are a high-priority policy concern. In the Matching Skills and Labour Market Needs report, it is interesting to see that it is considered that some mismatch is inevitable. Simply, as the labour market involves complex decisions to be made by employers and workers, often influenced by external factors. Further, the report cites that a more worrying phenomenon is sizeable qualification mismatch. Along with promoting jobs without paying due attention to their quality and to the skills required.  Ultimately this may prolong the job crisis.  The report goes on to say that skills shortages and mismatches tend to be associated with poor working conditions, low pay, jobs involving routine tasks and higher levels of job security. In the section to follow, we explore how the EQAVET cycle can be used by stakeholder collaborations committed to addressing the skills mismatch.