Overview of the Slovakian approach
The skills anticipation process in Slovakia is still in development and remains fragmented. Most activities, such as the collection of administrative data and surveys of employers, aim to establish current and predicted skills demands. There are also developments in new forecasting tools, inspired by the CEDEFOP methodology and supported by European Union funding (namely the ESF). But on the whole, linkages between existing skills intelligence exercises remain underdeveloped.
In Slovakia, the primary aim of skills anticipation activities is to inform policy-making on employment, to harmonise VET, and to provide information to employers at national and regional levels.
The National Employment Strategy of the Slovak Republic to 2020 (2014) outlines the two overarching aims regarding skills anticipation:
‘provide sufficiently qualified labour in all sectors of the national economy’
‘ensure that the education system is responsive to the needs and requirements of employers’.
The Act on Employment Services (No.5/2004) orders COLSAF and regional labour offices to analyse and forecast labour market developments and to publish them on their website (starting in 2013). (1) To date, only sporadic outputs are provided and made publicly available at a local level.
The Act on Vocational Education and Training (No. 184/2009) stipulates that professional associations should cooperate with COLSAF in the preparation of analyses and forecasts of labour market developments. Vocational education and employment-oriented training are coordinated at the national and regional levels.
Other relevant legislation includes:
The Education Act (2008);
The Act on Teaching Staff and Vocational Training employees (No. 317/2009), which covers the issue of vocational and careers guidance of students;
The Act on Higher Education (No. 131/2002), which foresees the obligation to provide career counselling services to students in higher education.
The National System of Occupations (NSO) and the related National Qualifications System (NQS), completed in 2015, are two elements of the legal framework relating to skills and skills forecasting in Slovakia. The NSO hosts a job registry which provides information on employers' job needs (e.g. required skills and qualifications). These two elements were funded by ESF grants.
COLSAF is responsible for the public employment service: it implements national labour policy via the regional and local labour, social affairs and family offices (2) (hereafter: labour offices). Self-governing regional authorities are responsible for secondary schools, including VET-oriented secondary schools, mainly with respect to the planning of educational provision.
The role of stakeholders
Given the lack of a formal, coherent system of skills anticipation in Slovakia, cooperation between employers and VET providers and/or the regional authorities responsible for VET institutions is important.
Employers and Government representatives were brought together to create sectoral VET councils as part of the 2009 Act on Vocational Education and Training. Their role was to undertake sectoral skills anticipation activities, but they ceased exist in 2013. The responsibility for skills anticipation was then given to COLSAF, the regional labour offices, and the sector councils newly created within the emerging NSO.
There is consensus amongst stakeholders that the education and training needs to meet labour market demands. Twenty-four new sectoral VET councils were created by mid-2015 by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport and employer representatives. They include key stakeholders (including MPSVR, employer representatives and an expert from the State Institute of Vocational Education) responsible for the definition of occupational standards, the preparation of sectoral analyses, skills needs surveys and prognoses. The main driving force in adapting the VET offer to skills needs of employers is the private business sector, in particular, representatives of the automotive industry.
High-level bodies relevant for skills anticipation include the following:
Social partners (representatives of employers and employees), who are represented in the Economic and Social Council, a consultative body of the Slovak Government and social partners at the national level. The social partners comment on issues of economic and social life, including employment, and on draft strategic and conceptual documents, policies and legislation. The formal nature of the Council may stifle debate about issues relating to employment, skills, etc.
The Government Council for Vocational Education and Training, an advisory body to the Slovak Government on vocational education and training, also includes representatives of employers’ associations.
Social partners are not consulted regularly concerning the demand for the foreign labour force and the impacts of labour migration on the national labour market, since no such mechanism has been in place in Slovakia. The social partners are only involved on an ad-hoc basis, for example, as part of projects or in the preparation of legislation and policies.
Overall, the coordination of activities between the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport and MPSVR appears to be crucial as these two institutions oversee all ESF co-financed skills anticipation projects.
The main intended target groups of skills anticipation exercises are:
Policymakers (in the fields of employment and education);
Public employment services;
Regional self-governing authorities that oversee VET secondary schools;
Funding and resources
There seems to be no budget specifically dedicated to skills anticipation exercises and no information is available on the exact expenditure on skills anticipation in Slovakia.
The established skills anticipation exercises (described in Section 2.3), conducted by the public employment services, are funded by the Government. The development of new skills anticipation instruments are funded from ESF grants and/or the national budget.
Resources flowing into building the skills anticipation system are not sufficiently coordinated, with various autonomous projects being implemented by different public institutions.