The fact that individual workers have a different skill bundle (knowledge, qualifications and work-based experience) is unchallenged. Moreover, these skills bundles change over time – we can safely assume that the workforce of 2020 will look slightly different in 2030. Therefore, actors and participants working collaboratively to address skills mismatch (here and now) and future skills mapping is essential.
The QSE-VET project reinforces the basic expectation of having actors and participants as stakeholders. Therefore, it is essential that a Stakeholder Analysis is undertaken.
Also known as a Power Interest Grid, it is important to engage diverse stakeholders within your structural approach, as follows:
- Gathering Critical Input: … it is commonly said that “You don’t know what you don’t know”. So, key stakeholders can help develop valuable insight.
- Gaining More Resources: … working collaboratively can bring additional people, skills, expertise, tools and resources.
- Building Trust: … building trust-based relationships thorough an equitable approach from the outset, will help gain commitment and achieve impact.
- Planning Ahead: … consistent feedback from stakeholders can ensure ‘buy-in’ from the outset.
Therefore, with the above in mind, effective leadership can be considered essential. What does it take to be an effective leader? Here’s a few examples:
Then, there must be focus on fostering an effective decision-making style, and the following can be considered as tried and tested:
- Decisive: for individuals and groups that value action, speed, efficiency and consistency, which requires honesty, clarity, loyalty and brevity.
- Flexible: is for those individuals, groups and a time when an adaptable approach is needed and is most effective when a decision needs to be made at speed. It allows for a different course of action to be taken, quickly.
- Hierarchic: for use in situations where a great deal of information is needed as is the input. There is a need for challenging views, time of analysis and, for making sustainable decisions.
- Integrative: is a process for decision making that consists of broadly defined and multiple courses of action. It requires a great deal of input so that a range of viewpoints can be explored.
Across Europe, indeed, worldwide, there are a number of cross-sector approaches used to address the skills mismatch and need for future skills mapping. However, it is often the Vocational Education and Training sector that takes the brunt of the blame. According to Forbes there has been “Countless papers on how vocational education and training (VET) needs to evolve to meet employers’ needs, and evidence of large employers working more closely with tertiary institutions to produce new workers with skills that tick more boxes.” In this article there is reference to the need for Government to play a role in bringing stakeholders together to support upskilling. Also, that “taking a longer-term perspective, educators also (need) to play a crucial role as they are in a strategic position to nurture the next generation of workforce. Navigating this challenge makes it necessary for educators to be nimbler and lean on the larger ecosystem to help. The skills mismatch cannot continue to persist, but a conscious effort must be made to break the gridlock.”
In summary, according to the Cedefop Research Paper No46 … “Effective cooperation between stakeholders in the complex field of combatting skill mismatch, is the involvement of the following stakeholders: government, the education sector, social partners, and employers. These have to be involved not only at the national, but also at the regional/local and/or sectoral levels.” The Research Paper goes on to highlight that, “It is also necessary to identify one problem owner or a small group of problem owners who will mobilise the other parties and feel the responsibility to ensure the success of the programme.” In this Paper, there are a number of effective practice examples, from pages 114-115. Pertinent to the QSE-VET project, is the Paper’s reference to the lack of evaluation (page 116), which highlights the lack of well-established practice in evaluation, or within the context of QSE-VET ‘evidence based VET’.