02 SES 04 B, Labour Market and Skills
European Commission’s ‘New skills agenda for Europe’ represents a comprehensive strategy that combines improvements in education, enhancement of skills matching policies, as well as new activities of upskilling and reskilling of workers and unemployed persons (European Commission, 2016). EU skills matching policies include different aspects, such as the identification of at-risk groups, optimization of training to solve learner skill gaps, the improvement of learning at the workplace, and stronger inclusion of stakeholders in training and broader design of education. In addition, each EU member country should fit the overall strategy to its’ own situation and demands.
In the last few decades, researchers have shown a great interest for considering a number of issues pertaining to the basic skills, knowledge and competences, especially those related to the labor market (Toner, 2011). This is to some degree influenced by fast development of new technologies, technological challenges of production, changes in the structure and challenges of work tasks (Gale, Wojan, & Olmsted, 2002; Kuruvila & Chua, 2000; Toner, 2011).
One of the traditional research challenges is related with appropriate conceptual definition of competences and skills. The existence of consensus regarding the classification and demand of skills for particular occupations also serves to improve the measurement procedures used in the educational and work-related guidance (Gatewood, Feild, & Barrick, 2016), which can lead to a reduction of skills mismatches and problems of overqualification or underqualification. In that context, the need to consider the possibility of describing particular occupations and the selection of particular occupations based on a set of shared, more permanent skills, which also have universal meaning, and can be applied in different fields, is especially important.
At the level of European national economic policies, and especially labor market policies, when it comes to knowledge, skills and competences of today students and future workers, additional challenges are present. National educational and labor related policies have to consider the appropriateness of transnational policy related to knowledge, skills and competences taxonomy, and to take efforts in the own national context and to harmonize educational system and the labor market. Therefore, national policies are mostly based on own occupational and qualifications policy, mainly in the form of national qualifications frameworks (NQF).
The Croatian Ministry of Labor and the Pension System and Ministry of Science and Education issued a decade ago the first version of Croatian Qualifications Framework and different normative regulation, which include a number of activities that should be conducted with the aim to conceptualize, develop and describe the occupational standards for several hundred occupations. Expected activates are fully, conceptually and operationally, described through a set of guidance, in the document that sets the theoretical basis for the development and provide the fundamental information, guidelines and explanations for description of each occupation (Croatian Qualification Framework -CQF).
In year 2019. Croatian national authorities decided to revise CQF regarding to occupational standard development, as many existing evidence indicate how there is need to harmonize national activities with EU activities and to improve effectiveness of overall procedure of occupational standards development and definition.
The present submission deals with research evidence about a process of revision, where information aboutconceptual and methodological challenges and improvements of the national occupational standards framework will be presented, and evidence about quality and effectiveness of new design methodology, especially regarding VET, are the subject of the present contribution.
All the empirical data are derived from the national project “Implementation of the Croatian Qualification Framework and the Development of Tools for Connecting Education and Labor Market” (2018-2022). Authors are as expert and researchers actively engaged in project, regarding to conceptualization of competence and skills taxonomy, operationalization of methodology for surveying needs and opinion of employers and workers in particular occupation, and conceptualization of set of guidance and indicators for evaluation of quality of finalized occupation standards. We employed desk research and comparative method to analyze various taxonomy of skills and competencies, and contrasting them with ESCO (European Skills, Competence and Occupation Taxonomy). The main aim of this part of analysis was to analyze how the effective and useful taxonomy of key jobs, skills and competences could be implemented in national occupational standard framework and could be feasible regarding the number of included stakeholders and implemented as through a set of connected activities. Second, at this level of research approach, we analyzed and stressed the critical points in the communication between the education and training sector, and provide analysis of strength and weakness of particular measures which are in use to facilitate the exchange of data between employers, education providers and job seekers, regarding to occupational standards and matching a labor market needs and education, in general. In the second part, in the paper we used existing national data related to experience to occupational and qualifications standards activities which were performed in the past. All data are collected through 'Occupational Standards Survey', surveying activates which represented an integral part of the previous methodology for developing occupational standards. Occupational Standards Survey represent an instrument with open-ended question, and rating scales, used for collecting information from employers related to different aspects of occupation, work-place, working conditions and information about key jobs workers perform in a particular occupation. Survey also provides information about knowledge and skills which particular occupation needs to possess related to general or particular job activates. In addition to these data, Survey provides information about key competences, generic skills, psychomotor skills, and the required education and job characteristics of workers in a particular occupation. The existing survey data are collected through online survey, where a sample of employers who are hiring or planning to hire workers in a particular occupation participated. The paper is based on a total of 2182 surveys.
Activities regarding the establishment of occupational and qualifications standards are challenging. At the conceptual level, the operationalization of an appropriate taxonomy of competences, knowledge and skills is challenged by with various obstacles. ESCO, as the general European Framework, is useful in the national context, to a certain degree, but it does not provide the possibility for comprehensive and fully operative national applicability. There are also various methodological challenges, mostly related with representativeness of employers’ sample, their readiness to participate and scope of their participation, where quality and validity of obtained data is matters of concerns. Empirically derived results in the paper will provide information about the reliability of occupational assessments by participating employers related to skills, structure of assessments of skills, and analysis of possibility to group in some meaningful clusters set of hundreds of occupations, especially in VET, with respect to skills, knowledge and competency ratings as grouping dimensions. Performed analyses demonstrated how skills rating by employers is generally very reliable, while the reliability of psychomotor skills assessments is lower but still satisfactory, with minor deviations from the optimal reliability in few occupations. An analysis of the latent structure of skills list used in the Survey indicates that two latent factors could be identified, which mostly cover occupation specific (typical) skills and some generic skills. The possibility to describe occupations through the used skills is generally satisfactory. Lastly, we will present some good practice regarding how evidence-based policymaking could enhance the analysis of skills supply and demand, especially concerning some disadvantaged socioeconomic groups or groups with lower formal qualifications and fewer opportunities to build skills.
Reference Burusic, J., Sakic Velic M. and Ribar, M. (2019). Research Report Regarding to New Questionnaire for Development of Occupational Standards. Working paper. Zagreb: Ivo Pilar Institute / The Ministry of Labour and Pension System of the Republic of Croatia. Burusic, J., Sakic Velic M. and Ribar, M. (2019). Research Report Regarding to Methodology for the Development of Occupational Standards in the Republic of Croatia. Working paper. Zagreb: Ivo Pilar Institute / The Ministry of Labour and Pension System of the Republic of Croatia. Alfirević, N., Burušić, J., Pavičić, J. & Relja, R. (2016). School Effectiveness and Educational Management. Springer: Palgrave Macmillan. European Commission (2016). Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. A New Skills Agenda for Europe - Working Together to Strengthen Human Capital, Employability and Competitiveness. Bussels: European Commission. European Commission (2018). New Skills Agenda for Europe. Bussels: European Commission. Toner, P. (2011). Workforce Skills and Innovation: An Overview of Major Themes in the Literature. Paris: OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry. Gale, H. F., Wojan, T. R., & Olmsted, J. C. (2002). Skills, Flexible Manufacturing Technology, and Work Organization. Industrial Relations, 44(1), 48-79. Gatewood, R. D., Feild, H. S., & Barrick, M. R. (2016). Human Resource Selection. Boston: Cengage Learning. Kuruvilla, S., & Chua, R. (2000). How do Nations Develop Skills? Lessons from the Skill Development Experiences Of Singapore. Retrieved January 31, 2020, from Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations site: http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cbpubs/8/
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