Overview of the Czech approach
Various skills anticipation initiatives have been initiated over the years. These initiatives, however, have not (yet) grown into a connected system of skills anticipation, despite declarations of high-level political commitment. That said, there have been some positive developments; for example, employers are becoming more involved in the co-ordination of skills demand and supply in the context of vocational education and training (VET), and sector councils have been successfully established to provide a forum for stakeholder involvement in skills anticipation. Existing activities include ad-hoc regional labour market forecasts, labour market monitoring and skills assessments by sector councils and training providers, and a new tool focusing on the labour market position of recent higher education graduates (at the national level). Some initiatives using comprehensive forecasting methods have also been developed.
The aims of skills anticipation activity is to:
Inform policymakers and employers;
Inform decision-making regarding VET provision; and
Inform future students who are trying to choose secondary and higher education courses.
The development of a coherent set of skills anticipation activities is a priority of the 2007 ‘Lifelong Learning Strategy’, with the MoLSA named as responsible for its implementation.
Vocational education and training is governed by the 2004 Education Act (since amended several times), while higher education is regulated by the 2004 Higher Education Act. The MEYS has overall responsibility for education policy, but schools are governed and maintained by the regional authorities.
Training for jobseekers (under the remit of public employment services [PES]) is regulated by the 2004 Employment Act, and the MoLSA holds responsibility for its implementation.
At the national level, there is no representative advisory body concerned with skills that could serve as a platform for information sharing and the coordination of all relevant actors. Existing regular skills anticipation initiatives have been developed under the auspices of the MoLSA and the MEYS. In the EEPO report on the Czech Republic, policy collaboration in this area between the MoLSA (focusing primarily on employment, unemployment and retraining issues) and the MEYS (focusing primarily on formal education) was considered to be generally weak. (2)
At regional level, each regional assembly and regional council (the executive body of the assembly) hold direct responsibility for establishing and maintaining VET institutions at upper secondary level. Regional assemblies have decision-making powers regarding the number, structure, provision, quality and funding of schools, with these decisions supported by regional labour market forecasts (described in section “Methods and tools” in more detail). Regional authorities are not responsible for tertiary level education.
Recently, Territorial Employment Pacts (Teritoriální pakty zaměstnanosti, TEPs) have been established in most Czech regions. Obligatory members of the TEPs are the regional authorities, regional employment services and regional employers’ representatives (usually via the Chamber of Commerce), in addition to other bodies and institutions responsible for VET and employment. They will be incorporated into the future regional skills forecasting system (see the ‘Labour Market Barometer’ under the ‘KOMPAS’ project in subsection “Skills forecasts”).
The role of stakeholders
The main stakeholders are employers and education and training institutions. So far the stakeholder involvement tends to be ad hoc (for example, social partners occasionally commission skills anticipation exercises). Stakeholders are also involved in skills anticipation indirectly through their participation in discussions about VET and higher education.
To encourage stakeholder participation in decision-making on labour market issues, 29 sector councils have been established. The main activities of the sector councils are: labour market monitoring; sectoral skills assessments; and supporting and cooperating with schools and training institutions. The councils include representatives of employers, education and training providers and the government.
Coordination of skills anticipation activity is currently limited, although the introduction of a project, called ‘KOMPAS’, which will collate skills anticipation information, may change this somewhat (see subsection “Skills forecasts”).
Regional governments involve employers in their ‘Councils for Human Resource Development’ and rely on their input in identifying local labour market needs when making decisions about the provision of secondary education. These dialogues, however, are likely to include only selected groups of employers, and the outcomes are neither systematically monitored nor assessed. Given these limitations, it is difficult to assess the extent to which these analyses are used, for example, where regional governments make decisions on which schools to downsize or close in face of the ongoing decline of student populations.
In sum, there are channels for stakeholder involvement around skills anticipation activities, especially in the context of VET. Nonetheless, it is unclear how these channels help to improve policy decisions given the lack of formal evaluation.
Existing skills anticipation initiatives primarily target policymakers and employers at a national and regional level. One of the new skills assessment tools, the ‘Information System on the Situation of Graduates in the Labour Market’ (described in section “Methods and tools”) is targeted at young people who are in the process of selecting a higher education course, and at public authorities, which may use the information for improving the provision of secondary education.
Funding and resources
There is little information available on expenditure for skills anticipation exercises. While there appears to be no budget specifically dedicated to them, some resources for such activities (especially in the development of new tools) come from the European Social Fund (ESF).