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Questions about skill needs

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What is Skillsnet?

Skillsnet is a network which was established by Cedefop in 2004. It is coordinated by Cedefop's skills analysis team and brings together researchers, experts and other stakeholders from across the world to present and discuss outcomes and methods of research and analysis on new and changing skill needs as well as medium to longer term prospects of skills available in the labour market.

The network provides a forum for generating new activities and projects in the early identification of skill needs by bringing in a multidisciplinary cross country perspective. The outcomes of research are discussed with policy makers, practitioners, training organisations, employment services, social partners and others actively working on the identification of skill needs for their transfer into education and training policy and practice.

Why the network?

The issue of early identification of skill and competence needs is growing in importance. In a rapidly changing environment, policy makers and practitioners must be able to identify and respond promptly to new and changing skill and competence requirements. Such decisions depend on reliable information provided by research, which therefore takes on a central role in shaping future oriented education and training.

Further, the process of European integration and EU enlargement makes the provision and availability of information about trends in the development of skills and competences even more important. Relevant findings could support both development of a European knowledge based society and achievement of various objectives set in European employment and lifelong learning strategies.

The principle language of the webpages and network on early identification of skill needs is English but you may find some literature and documents in other languages.

What are the approaches, methods and target groups?

Early identification of skill needs concerns research and analysis at national, regional, local, sectoral and occupational levels as well as analysis of skill needs of specific target groups, such as the low skilled, those at risk, the disabled, minorities, and others.

Approaches mainly include enterprise and labour force surveys at different levels, forecasting techniques, case studies, analyses of job advertisements, expert inquiries, scenarios, and observatories on skill developments. Similarities across territories, sectors and occupations help to identify common European or international trends in skill requirements. Examples are the ‘green economy’. tourism, logistics and new technologies (nano-/biotechnology, fuel cells, etc.). Priority is given to holistic approaches and to innovative solutions in research and analysis that can cater for the time gap between the actual change in demand and the policy and implementation response.

The transfer of findings into policy and implementation of reforms are of central importance and involve all actors – policy makers, social partners, training organisations and researchers – to ensure the acceptance and legitimacy of reforms.

What are the activities?

While many countries, both European and non European, have varying levels of experience in anticipation of skills, approaches to analysis differ considerably. Information on activities and results is sometimes difficult to obtain – not least because of language problems. Cedefop aimes at improving transparency, fostering exchange of both information and experts, and promoting cross country cooperation.

Currently, Cedefop works on four main projects: 

  • forecasting skill demand and supply,
  • skill needs in sectors,
  • employers' surveys,
  • analysing skill mismatch. 

Regular activities related to these projects include thematic workshops, organised in close cooperation with network members, publications and conferences organised by Cedefop and partner institutions.

All the conference and workshop materials are available under each event's announcement (sorted by sub-project).

What research results/publications/data can I find in the Skillsnet webpages?

Members can share articles/publications/research results related to early identification of skill needs. You can access these materials under the section publications and working papers. The webpages also contains proceedings from various conferences and workshops related to skill needs, which you can find under the section events.

What types of access are offered?

There are two sections. The public section gives all web portal users access to the information provided by Cedefop and network members for public use. The restricted section can only be accessed by network members, and provides additional information for internal communication and knowledge sharing within the network.

How do I become a member?

Skillsnet welcomes researchers, experts and stakeholders active in the field on early identification of skill needs to join the network. If you are experienced in skill needs research and analysis and forecasting or if you are engaged in the transfer of research results on future skill requirements into policy and practice, you are welcome to submit an application form in the section membership.

How do I share my article/publication regarding skill needs on the Skillsnet webpages?

If you have recently published a new paper or a book on early identification of skill needs you can make it available online by sending the electronic version to the Cedefop Skills analysis team.

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