Overview of the Croatian approach
Overall responsibility for skills anticipation rests with the Ministry of Labour and Pension System (Ministarstvo rada i mirovinskog sustava, MRMS), which has jurisdiction over the public employment service (PES). In practice, the PES is the principal agency involved in skills anticipation. It undertakes assessments of current and future skill needs with a view to informing the education system (secondary and tertiary level) about future provision of programmes. In addition to the activities of the PES, sectoral assessments are also undertaken and there has been an initial foray into formal skills forecasting.
The HKO, introduced in 2013, provides a structure for skills anticipation activity. Important in the development of the HKO is the role of sector councils that have a responsibility for advising on changes in qualifications deriving from changes observed in occupational standards or other developments at the sectoral level. These councils comprise various stakeholders including the social partners and sectoral experts. The National Council for the Development of Human Potential also has an important role in relation to the HKO in making recommendations about how the skills supply system should respond to changing patterns of skills demand. The HKO falls under the domain of the Ministry of Science and Education (Ministarstvo znanosti i obrazovanja, MZOS).
As of late 2016, the main aim of skills anticipation is to inform policymakers and education and training providers. It is being further developed so as to also include careers guidance professionals and, increasingly, inform the decisions of jobseekers and prospective students.
Although it is commonly accepted that Croatia has for years continued to face high levels of skills mismatch, the research evidence to support this (1) (other than employers’ reporting on hiring difficulties), is rather weak. In this regard, the primary aim of skills anticipation is to improve the skills intelligence available about the demand for, and supply of, skills. In turn, this skills intelligence aims to ensure that those responsible for the provision of education and training are better informed. There is scope for skills anticipation activity to increase the range of its target user groups, but for the moment it is very much orientated towards influencing the decisions of those responsible for the supply of education and skills.
As noted above, the HKO is considered a critically important first step in providing a structure for conducting skills anticipation exercises.
There are three key regulations relating to the development of skills anticipation activity in Croatia.
The Regulation on Monitoring, Analysis and Forecasting of the Labour Market Needs for Particular Occupations (Official Gazette No. 93/2010) was introduced in the wake of the financial crisis in order to bring about a better match between the supply of, and demand for, skills. It requires the PES to analyse and forecast current and future labour market skill needs on an annual basis and make recommendations for educational enrolment policy. Once a year, the PES sends its recommendations to educational institutions, local and regional administrations, sector councils and the Ministry of Science and Education (MZOS).
The Vocational Education and Training Act (Official Gazette No. 30/2009) established the first sector councils, which comprised representatives of social partners and education and training providers, plus experts in the skills needs of different sectors. In addition, new sector councils were introduced by the 2013 Croatian Qualifications Framework Act.(2)
In addition, there are two strategy documents that have been important in shaping the developing skills anticipation activity:
The Strategy on Development of the Vocational Education System in the Republic of Croatia 2008–2013 established, among other things, a methodology for labour market research on skills demand and supply and made recommendations regarding the collection and analysis of labour market data. The new strategy for vocational education and training (VET) which covers the period 2016–2020 was adopted in late 2016. (3)
The National Strategy for Lifelong Professional Guidance and Career Development in the Republic of Croatia 2014–2020 emphasises availability of high-quality information on career opportunities and provision of professional guidance for individuals and/or groups of jobseekers.
The Ministry of Labour and Pension System (Ministarstvo rada i mirovinskog sustava, MRMS) has overall responsibility for skills anticipation on the government side. Within the MRMS, the PES has operational responsibility for skills anticipation through its regional and local offices.
The development of the HKO rests with the National Council for Development of Human Potential, which monitors and validates the impact of the HKO. It makes recommendations based on the work of sector councils as to how to better connect the educational offer to labour market needs. Ultimate responsibility for the HKO rests with the MZOS.
The role of stakeholders
The PES is the main provider of skills anticipation information plus guidance and counselling to jobseekers. Social partners are represented on the managing board of the PES. Aside from the MRMS, PES and MZOS, the other key authorities that will have a role in skills anticipation as the process develops are:
The Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education
(Agencija za strukovno obrazovanje i obrazovanje odraslih), which has responsibility for developing qualifications based on competences and learning outcomes, and the continuous alignment of education with labour market needs.
The Agency for Science and Higher Education
(Agencija za zanost I visoko abrazovanje), which has a role in implementing the HKO in higher education.
The sector councils
(Sektorska vijeća), which advise the HKO on changes to qualifications based on changes observed in occupational standards or other developments at the sectoral level.
Employers’ associations, trade unions, education and training providers, and experts will be represented in the skills anticipation process by their participation in the sector councils.
Social partners are also represented on the sector councils and in the National Council for the Development of Human Potential, along with training providers and assorted experts.
The main users of the outputs of the skills anticipation process are policymakers (across a number of ministries and agencies) and educational institutions (VET and higher education). The PES, at both national and local level, is also a target group for the use of labour market intelligence. Ultimately the aim is to expand the target groups to include students and jobseekers via labour market intermediaries.
Funding and resources
Funding for skills anticipation is provided by the MRMS to the PES. Despite regulation obliging the PES to further develop skills anticipation activity (Official Gazette No. 93/2010), its budget was not increased to accommodate this new responsibility..